There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the topics of faith and hope. I really believe that the majority of people misunderstand what faith actually is. When I hear someone say “just have faith,” I’m fairly certain they mean hope. The thing is that faith is not merely something that you “have”. It’s not something that you coerce upon yourself. Hope is. Hope comes from within, it comes from your aspirations for what will become. Faith, however, is something quite different.
In the book of Hebrews, it say that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Now this seems radically different than hope. The bible actually talks about faith as some kind of “substance.” And note that it doesn’t call faith the substance of hope, but calls it the substance of things hoped for. It’s the evidence of things not seen.
Now clearly, faith isn’t an actual substance. I don’t really believe that literally. But I do believe it is much more concrete than hope is. Hope doesn’t have the power to bring things into being, it doesn’t have the power to move mountains. Faith does. So what is faith? Faith is a result, as well as a means. One doesn’t create faith out of thin air like one does with hope. Faith is gained, developed. It’s a natural evolution of our spiritual walk. Perhaps that’s the reason why faith is also a synonym for religion. Because when a religion first springs forth from spirituality, it is conceived in faith.
I’d liken faith to perhaps a kind of radar. Radar is able to detect things at a distance too great for us to directly perceive. Similarly, I’d say that faith is a form of spiritual radar/perception. But that analogy doesn’t perfectly fit either, it doesn’t really describe how it’s a means as well. It’s a means, because there are things done by faith. Walking on water, moving mountains, these things can’t be done with merely a form of spiritual radar. Perhaps a parallel analogy of a tractor beam/magnet may work too. Magnets attract. So does faith, it detects a possibility within the spiritual realm prior to manifestation. And then it pulls that possibility further towards actuality, increasing it’s probability. (Perhaps this is the mechanism, or one of the key mechanisms, behind the Law of Attraction?)
How is this all accomplished? Galatians tells us that “faith works by love.” And remember that God is Love. As one deepens their spiritual walk, more closely communes with the divine and lives in the consequent love, faith naturally grows out of it. I’m not calling faith a branch or a part of love. They are different, and you can have one without the other. But faith is to love, as religion is to spirituality.
So when someone says “just have faith,” remember what faith actually is. Hope still is useful. Hope provides strength in the moment. Do not take this article as me degrading hope. Hope is good. But when possible, have faith. And if not possible, then draw closer to the divine, and faith will be granted.