Friday was my first day in Greek class at LTSG (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg) and, toward the end of the class, while we were learning about verb endings, our professor went over the vocabulary for the upcoming chapter. One of the words was πιστεύω, which means “to believe.” Interestingly enough, it can also be translated as “to faith.”
In English, we simply say “I have faith” and we do not have a verb for “faithing.” Our professor pointed this out, using the example of holding faith in our hands and then dropping it. We all laughed to think of such a silly thing, but as he explained further, the Greeks did not often say “I have faith” but rather used the “I faith” or “I am faithing” form instead. To them, faith was an action – something to be pursued, worked at and continued. It was not seen as something you could have and then drop or lose.
The more I thought about this, the more I liked it. People often talk about losing faith; when you seem to have lost it, it does seem to be very difficult to find again. You find yourself thinking, “how can I get back to that place of comfort and certainty?” I believe the answer lies in actively continuing to pray and continuing to hope and strive for that joy, comfort and peace. As the author of Hebrews 11:1 writes, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The very acts of continuing to pray, to worship, and to hope are the “faithing” – the active verb.
You might not be able to see faith or to grasp it, but you can actively pursue it and participate in it. Perhaps that is why people speak about their “faith journeys.” Faith is not something that you can swing by and pick up at Target or Wal-Mart. It’s something that you wrestle and struggle with, find comfort in, and work at, that it may grow stronger over time. It’s like kindling a fire; you may start with just a match, but if you tend the fire carefully, it will grow stronger and brighter.
© 2009. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.