“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
- Hebrews 11:1
Inspired by a funeral he once attended, singer, songwriter and renowned harmonica player Buddy Greene composed and recorded a ballad about the life of an old acquaintance of his named Charlie, a notably righteous man who had lived a good life, but whose health began to fail and eventually died. Except as Buddy describes so eloquently in the ballad’s lyrics, that was hardly the end of Charlie’s story.
“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 should be obvious that Charlie was a man of deep faith. But what is faith? First of all, it is not optimism, that is 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. Like my mother who, after being told she only had a few months to live, looked her family boldly in the eyes. “Don’t worry about me,” she proclaimed. “Grieve because you miss me, that’s okay. But don’t worry about me. I know where I’m going!” She was as resolute about that as I had ever seen her, and remained 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 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 as resolute in that faith as Charlie (and my mother) were; for faith is about being sure and certain of that empty tomb on Easter morning. As the witnesses cried out, “The Lord is risen!” Yes He is, He is risen indeed! Happy Easter!