I went on a word search today- a Hebrew word search. I wanted to find the Hebrew word for “faith”, and, not surprisingly, found a couple of words that loosely translated over as such. The word “emunah” (same root as “amen”) is translated as ‘faith’ in the Hebrew-English dictionary, but interestingly, the word “emet” was also included alongside as one of the Hebrew descriptives. I find this fascinating, because the word “emet” (as spelled out in the Hebrew) actually means “truth”. We are told that “Adonai emet” (God is truth), and He restores our life to us every morning ‘b’chemla raba emunatecha’ (..because His faith is great). There is another word used for faith- “bitachon”, which would be better translated as ‘trust, confidence, security’. This concept of faith differs from that which was taught to me in my younger years. I was taught that ‘faith’ was something you ‘accepted’ without question. If things were going badly in my world (if I was sick, if finances were tight, if I struggled with relationships), it was a sign that I was sadly lacking in faith. St Paul talked about faith ‘being the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen’. Mysterious. It was described as that which ‘came by hearing’, and was dispensed as gift, with ‘each man having a measure…’. And yet, faith is not an item. The word “belief” also translates as ’emunah’, with the word ‘d’at’ (knowledge) also appearing on the same line. Again, this intrigues me- somehow ‘faith and truth’ are inextricably bound together, as are ‘belief and knowledge’, in the Hebrew understanding. It should be so that faith is based on unshakeable truth. Beliefs can change, depending on the knowledge at hand, but faith is eternal. Faith must have an object of relationship, and for faith to grow, there must be trust in something that is true. The sun will rise tomorrow. Somehow all things work for good when God is the object of our love. I wonder though if faith has to be completely ‘fear-free’. Philip Yancey speaks openly about his wrestlings in his book “Disappointment with God”. “The Growing Pains of Adrian Plass” also chronicle the earnest attempts of yet another pilgrim to acquire that ‘faith which moves mountains (or paper clips)’. Faith is built on the confidence, security, and trust that God, Who is Truth, will not pull the plug on His universe. Confidence and security are based on experience. Experience derives from relationship- interaction with the animate and inanimate. But relationships are not always predictable. Sometimes there is pain, the despair that comes from ‘seeing through a glass darkly’, and the anguish born out of isolation and loneliness. Relationship involves process, just as dying and living. I would love at times to be two-dimensional for awhile- removing the pure sensual physicality of pain, and remaining in the Narnia of the printed page, where endings can be peeked at ahead, and the bloody violence of intervening chapters avoided. Like many of my patients, I do not fear death, but the pain of living the dying process. And somehow, it is this fear that cripples my faith- making me bow my head in shame at my cowardice. But this is the face of my broken humanity- created, as it says in sacred writ, ‘b’tzelem Adonai’. Now I am rambling…as usual. Back to faith, hope, and love. Perfect love is supposed to cast out all fear- may it be God’s will to bequeath that perfect love to me, for the sake of my family and friends. I have no other option but to fling myself at His mercy seat.