Reflections April 2010—Sustaining Faith

 

April 2010

Sustaining Faith

s the years pass, we discover that our faith is challenged again and again by unexpected developments along the road of life. At such times, reason alone is not enough to hold us firm. Only faith can sustain us.

C.S. Lewis offers insights that can help when those times come:

Just as the Christian has his moments when the clamor of this visible and audible world is so persistent and the whisper of the spiritual world so faint that faith and reason can hardly stick to their guns, so, as I well remember, the atheist too has his moments of shuddering misgiving, of an all but irresistible suspicion that old tales may after all be true, that something or someone from outside may at any moment break into his neat, explicable, mechanical universe. Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that….

When we exhort people to Faith as a virtue, to the settled intention of continuing to believe certain things, we are not exhorting them to fight against reason. The intention of continuing to believe is required because, though Reason is divine, human reasoners are not. When once passion takes part in the game, the human reason, unassisted by Grace, has about as much chance of retaining its hold on truths already gained as a snowflake has of retaining its consistency in the mouth of a blast furnace. The sort of arguments against Christianity which our reason can be persuaded to accept at the moment of yielding to temptation are often preposterous. Reason may win truths; without Faith she will retain them just so long as Satan pleases. There is nothing we cannot be made to believe or disbelieve. If we wish to be rational, not now and then, but constantly, we must pray for the gift of Faith, for the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference that which reason, authority, or experience, or all three, have once delivered to us for truth.1

Because reason cannot survive unless built on a foundation of faith, we must diligently seek to grow in faith, to grow from little faith to great faith. And as we do, we will find that faith will sustain us whatever may come and will see us safely home.

 

1 C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids, MI, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), pp. 41-43.


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