“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
- Hebrews 11:1
My friend – singer, song writer and renowned harmonica player – Buddy Greene tells a beautiful story about once attending a funeral service for a man named Charlie. So moved was he by what happened that day that it inspired him to compose and record a ballad describing it. The song lyrics tell the story best:
“Now the sky was cold and gray / at the funeral home that day / And the friends and family gathered from far and wide / And they all stood by Charlie’s grave / and they listened to the message the preacher gave / And thought it was over when up stood Charlie’s bride. / She said ‘I’m sure glad to see you all here / ‘cause Charlie held you all so dear / And he wants to see you all in heaven when it comes your time. / So if you want to die like Charlie died / you’ve gotta live like Charlie lived / Loving God and people and longing for the other side.’”
It goes without saying that Charlie was a man of deep faith. But what does that mean? First of all, faith is not optimism, a “Pollyannaish” belief that a positive outcome is forthcoming. Neither is it a philosophy or religious system. Rather, faith is just as the scripture defines it, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”, derived not from scientific proof or mathematical fact, but from an intimate relationship with God. It’s like when my mother who, after being told she only had a few months to live, proclaimed boldly to those of us gathered round these exact words. “Don’t worry about me,” she said. “Grieve because you miss me, that’s okay. But don’t worry about me. I know where I’m going!” She was as sure and certain as anyone I’ve ever seen and remained resolutely so up to her final breath.
The surety and certainty of our faith gives us the strength to overcome the difficulties we inevitably face in this life – including our current global health crisis – and provides the freedom to use our lives for good purposes. It is by faith that we are able to live like Charlie lived, and one-day die like Charlie died. For faith comes from being sure and certain of that empty tomb on Easter morning. As the witnesses cried out, “The Lord is risen!” Yes, He is risen indeed, and I am sure of that! Happy Easter!