How is faith possible during the hardest of times? Learn how to grow your faith, even when change brings fear and uncertainty
How strong is your faith today? Where are you putting your faith?
Faith is not necessarily believing God will make everything better.
Faith is believing that something—anything—is steering the course of your life. You get to choose what that is.
A beloved story about Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore goes like this:
Once Unity was in serious financial straits. Bills that had to be paid were piling up, and there did not seem to be money enough to meet the payroll. The Fillmores called their staff together to pray about the matter.
One of the staff said, "Let us pray that the money holds out."
"Oh, no," whispered Myrtle Fillmore, "let us pray that our faith holds out."
—From The Story of Unity by James Dillet Freeman (Unity Books, 2007)
Taking a Faith Inventory
Is your faith in the stock market to determine your fortunes? In a job to make you secure? Is it in the media to tell you the best course of action? In government to oversee a crisis? In the health care system to combat disease? Or maybe your faith is pinned on another person to take care of you or make you feel happier.
Institutions and other people may indeed be reliable and helpful, but any human undertaking is fallible.
So what is better to have faith in?
Is it even possible to have faith when your world seems upside down and the future is dramatically uncertain?
Faith is your ability to believe even when you can’t see results yet. You were born with an immense capacity for faith. Consider that even in the dark of night, you have faith the sun will rise again. We exercise faith anytime we take something for granted.
Growing Through the Four Levels of Faith
Faith falls roughly into four levels.
Level 1: Hope
Hope is not as strong as faith, but sometimes it’s the best we can muster. Hope acknowledges that things might get better; it expresses a wish.
The problem with hope is that it also acknowledges things might not get better, and it stems from resistance to the way things are now. We hope things will change and be different. It’s perfectly human, but it’s low-level faith.
Level 2: Blind Faith
“Everything will be okay,” or “God will provide.”
Blind faith may be the best we can do, and it certainly feels better than despair.
However, blind faith can become magical thinking with a big dose of denial. It also doesn’t require our participation. We just wait for some kind of intervention from outside of us.
Level 3: Understanding Faith
Spiritual maturity brings about understanding faith. Just as we now understand why the sun seems to rise in the east, we have learned who we truly are and why we can trust life.
We know the ancient teachings that God is all there is, and we are part of the whole. Our thoughts have creative power, so we are key participants in life’s unfolding. We are never separate from an infinite presence, and we can act from the awareness of our spiritual identity.
All our thoughts and choices can be grounded in our understanding of spiritual principles.
Level 4: Knowing
The deepest faith is also the simplest: knowing.
We don’t struggle to adjust our thinking or believe in good instead of bad. We just know.
We know we live in a universe of abundance. We know health is our natural state. We know the universe is biased for good, and most things work out for the best, at least in the long run. Call it grace.
When Change Tests Our Faith
Our most challenging spiritual practice is to live in the world as humans.
We have to deal with human reality, which sometimes appears grim, without forgetting the truth of abundance, peace, and health that is our birthright. We continually get to practice living from our divine core instead of the reactive human ego.
Change is often difficult, even for those of us who believe in transformation. Change can bring about disruption, pain, and discomfort. However, change is the only way life can get better.
In faith, we focus on the good we know is present, even when we can’t see it yet.
This is not to deny or ignore what is happening around us. It’s like focusing a camera lens on a single bud in a trampled garden. It’s noticing the first leaves on a tree while it’s still cold outside. It’s remembering all the times past when something we resisted turned out to be exactly what we needed or had asked for. It simply arrived in a package we didn’t recognize.
Faith grounded in spiritual knowing is a mind-set, a level of consciousness. It is living from the inside out, projecting our spiritual awareness onto outer circumstances rather than allowing them to victimize us.
Calling upon our innate power of faith, we can see the world with perfect trust and humility, no matter what is happening.
Your spiritual work has prepared you for this. Stay awake.
For more inspiration from Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore, read How to Let God Help You, a collection of her most inspired writings, letters, and lectures. From the Unity Classic Library Series, with introduction by Rosemary Fillmore Rhea. Available also in e-book.