Faith continually goes through ebb and tide. With spiritual maturity, however, it becomes more stable.
Why is this so?
Well, life itself is made up of ebbs and tides. The divine order is for us to be tested through thick and thin. Good times and bad times are all a seemingly bizarre obstacle course to test one’s mettle – one’s understanding and acceptance of the Divine Providence and ability to rise to the occasion through forgiveness and generosity or patience and gentleness as the situation demands. Thus, one may avoid being full of oneself or full of despair. Trust in God deepens gradually, incrementally. To be included in God’s circle is a feat that is earned, not vested. As they say: when the going gets tough the tough get going. How can God enter one into His mercy when one fails to be merciful? So, just as pure gold is extracted by use of fire and heat, so also does faith blossom with trial and tribulation.
When one anchors expectations to individuals, looks for quick fixes, expects rapid reward or a quick turnaround following prayers, one’s faith will inevitably, over and again, stumble and dive. Why should attainment of genuine faithfulness be any different from other achievements in life like education, research, sports, business, politics, marriage, parenting, creativity, etc? For success, all of them demand patience, practice and perseverance. Thus, along the way, kinks in faithfulness have to be recognized and worked out.
So, belief is not magic. It is a process! Also, it is not established by a mere claim to faithfulness. Such an expression is only a declaration of submission, that is all. God sees and knows what is in our hearts, the abode of total trust in Him.
However, there are two insidious invasive foreign seeds, if they take root in the Faith Garden, then literally all hell will break lose. They must not ever touch the soil of the precious garden, much less receive sunlight and water. These are the seeds of pride and arrogance. The first spoils the heart. The other wrecks the head. The ultimate outcomes are vanity in worship and loss of faith.
So, how does pride ruin faith? Pride is a measure of one’s sense of superiority, of being special, different, chosen, standing out from all others of humankind. Thus, racism and class consciousness are some of its outcome. However, when it truly goes to the head, it even makes faith and worship just another cosmetic means to set one apart from the rest. Faithfulness is no longer real, it is merely a decoration to draw attention to oneself by exaggerating and making one socially more flamboyant. Then faith and vanity become symbiotic as well as synonymous. One’s faithfulness is borne out with fanfare, din and clamor, not privately or guardedly but in the glare of public consumption.
Then, how does arrogance poison faith? When one begins to believe in one’s reasoning ability a tad bit too much and turns it around to evaluate faith, then one begins to run aground. While many elements of faith and its prescriptions have a logic to them that is immediately clear, not all of it is amenable to such a dissection. That is not because that part has no logic, but because the mind and its experience are not open and intelligent enough to decipher the hidden codes. The algorithm of God’s meta-logic and minutiae are beyond its capacity to recognize, much less integrate. In fact, contrary to the common deduction on the saying, “faith is blind”, faith is not above explanation. How can something that is not forced and sold through fear and superstition find acceptance unless it is driven by inherent, pervasive logic untainted by man’s embellishments? Using the five senses, the tools of materialism, we judge spiritualism! Foolishly and full of oneself, one may jab and spar with God’s wisdom and plan. With puny, facile, putative intelligence, a gift by itself, one may brazenly call out the Divine Agenda. If one only knew that in this particular arena, realization and understanding are ceded to only those who enter with humility and not haughtiness. They are the ones who cultivate with time and nurture with patience the ultimate connectivity that faith facilitates. So, the ambitious, conceited logician, judgmental and in haste, having failed to connect the dots, declares faith as being obsolete and faithfulness arcane.