Faith is the bird that sings when the sky is darkest

Published 12:01 am Saturday, September 7, 2013

“If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”  That question was posted on a Facebook page for the Alpha USA outreach, a small group “safe place to ask spiritual questions and explore the Christian faith.”

There are times when I want to ask God many questions. I want to understand the meaning of theological terms such as faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJ).

My search for an answer defining faith includes Christians who are examples of faith. For instance, Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom once said, “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic for decades due to a diving accident, has said, “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.”

I turned to three of my favorite Christian authors.  C.S. Lewis has written, “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” Max Lucado put it this way, “Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”  Philip Yancey’s words speak to me, “I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said, “Faith gives us living joy and dying rest.” Minister and author E.W. Kenyon remarked, “Faith talks in the language of God. Doubt talks in the language of man.”

“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t,” mathematician/theologian Blaise Pascal. Oswald Chambers, who worked with the YMCA in Egypt during World War I, described faith as “a deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

Methodist bishop W. Ralph Ward defined faith as “raising the sail of our little boat until it is caught up in the soft winds above and picks up speed, not from anything within itself, but from the vast resources of the universe around us.”

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  First century theologian Augustine summarized, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

The research I discovered included quotes from anonymous sources and I learned lots from them.  “Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.”  “When faith goes to market, it always takes a basket.”

“Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer.”  “Faith is the bird that sings when the sky is darkest just before dawn.”

I once read the words a prisoner carved on the wall of a concentration camp.  Perhaps these words define faith the best, “I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine. I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.  I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.”


Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is