A few weeks ago, I found myself with a little time to waste. A very little time… It was the night of the high school Bible study that my husband teaches, and I was sitting in our host church waiting for a couple more leaders to arrive so we could begin setting up. I sat down in a chair in a corner of the lobby, and noticed a lovely little plaque sitting on a shelf. It said, in a beautiful curly script: “Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that God will.”
And you know what? I’m really not sure that’s true.
I sat there for several minutes, trying to figure out why that catchy little saying wasn’t sitting right with me. And I looked online to try to find a little more about it and it appears that the fact that I’m just now hearing this phrase makes me a little slow on the uptake. Not the first time, I’m sure…
The saying is widely attributed to Ben Stein, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect. So if that’s so, then it’s not about the origin for me. And it’s a popular saying. When I looked online for a sample to show you, I found no shortage of the words:
Now I’ll be honest ~ I’ve been told I’m very literal. By my daughter. Who, frankly, knows me pretty darn well. And she’s right. And sometimes that tendency can frustrate me, when I misunderstand what someone is trying to say. But other times I think it’s a good thing, in that it’s part of my analytical nature, which generally helps me learn. So there’s the disclaimer, and please don’t take offense if this wonderfully pithy phrase is your life’s credo. You’re fine. It’s not you; it’s me.
But here’s my issue…. first of all, faith is believing that God can. That, to me, is the essence of faith in Him. I believe that He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Love that trio…. so lyrical! But what those beautiful, lyrical words mean is that I have faith that He is capable of anything. There is nothing He can’t do. Which I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere…. Oh yes! With God, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27.
So, to sum up: I believe that God can. That is faith.
Point 2 ~ “Faith is… knowing that God will.”
Yeah… no. I have all kinds of faith ~ in His power and in His love ~ and I don’t know for one minute that He will do anything. Other, of course, than every promise in the Bible. Of all that, I’m sure He will. But that doesn’t mean that I’m any less sure that He can, ya know? When it comes to the things He has said He will do, Faith is both believing that He can, and that He will.
But when it comes to everything else, the question of whether He will, is entirely up to Him. Will He bring a better job? Heal your chronic illness? Bring sense back into your wayward child? I don’t know. And believing that He will grant our wishes is a sure path to disappointment. There’s a reason that the model prayer Jesus taught His disciples includes the words, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are supposed to want His will, even if it directly conflicts with our will.
So I think if I were doing to design a catchy, inspiring little saying to put on a plaque, it would say something like this:
It’s a bit long, I admit. But it’s all true. So tell a friend.