Some people have very odd ideas about faith, so odd that here we need to clarify what, in fact, we are discussing when we talk about faith. Faith is not believing something you know is not true; neither is it believing something for which there is no evidence. That is simply foolishness. The Bible is a big book all about faith, and in it, we find a few facts about faith that will help us get the definition straight.
The elementary fact is that faith is a built-in part of all humans. We are born to be believers. If you think you have no faith, try it! Try not believing in anything or anybody—your wife, husband, doctor, bank, boss, baker, or chef. There are no guarantees, yet we put our lives into the hands of surgeons, and we trust drivers of trains, cars, and airplanes without thinking of faith. But that is what it is. Faith is a kind of immune system to filter out fears that otherwise would paralyse all activity. When it fails, we develop all kinds of phobias and compulsions. It is a nervous breakdown. Jesus said to not have phobia but faith. (See Luke 8:50.)
If you stopped using this faculty of faith, you would never get out of bed in the morning or step outside. You might think the sky could fall down. In this world, a million cobra troubles are coiled to strike, but we carry on, usually quite aloof from them and confident. The Bible says, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Christ said, “Only believe” (Mark 5:36), because we can.
Getting married is the best illustration of faith I know of. Has any bride or bridegroom ever imagined the other was perfect? Yet they commit themselves to each other for life, for better or worse. One bride refused to repeat the words, “I take thee for better or worse.” She said, “I only take him for worse. I know he’ll never be better.” She still went ahead, confident but not optimistic!
There is no mystique about faith. Perhaps little children are the biggest believers. Many times I have lifted a child in my arms, but not once has the child screamed for fear of falling. Jesus Himself carried a child as an illustrated sermon. He said the child carried a passport to the kingdom of God. Faith does not come by murdering common sense. It is not a peculiar psychology developed with great effort by saints in caves and living on bread and water. It is not peculiar at all. It is natural. Doubt is peculiar—irrational in fact. It is the only thing that ever surprised Jesus.