You’ve listened to people ask, “Are you a believer?”
Some answer, “I trust in Him. I believe.”
The word belief is often attached to religious faith. Those who do not have such convictions are called agnostics or atheists. But the word has a broader scope.
Those who deny faith continue to believe differently.
Allow me to explain.
Perhaps unaware of it, they appear to rely on others in a manner similar to how religious people depend on a deity. This is not to say true believers lack the same everyday bolstering backstop found in non-believers.
Consider the pedestal occupied by physicians, especially those doctors we appreciate through long familiarity. They earn our trust if they are confident, knowledgeable, and kind. We turn to them for the maintenance of our lives and health. We entrust them with the well-being of our children.
Their role is godlike, without the ritual, ancient scripture, prayer, and attendance at a house of worship.
Such women and men provide confidence and strength, the ability to persist, the knowledge we are not alone, and, often, that all will be well. Healing us is their business, and sometimes we consider our survival miraculous.
Ah, but perhaps you recall times when a physician did not save you from disability or someone you love from dire illness.
Then you may have a crisis of faith in him, not unlike the intrusion of doubts about God. You might reject one or both, but not everyone does. Many recognize the medical profession’s limitations and continue to hold on to their confidence in a doctor’s value. Or, they might search for another practitioner to take his place.
The human response to tragedy is not so different in those who are religious. Blaming your God or yourself is common. Uncertainty frequently arises about why the misfortune was permitted by an all-good and all-powerful being.
“What did I do to deserve this?” can be followed by self-incrimination or pointing the finger at a deity. Just as the atheist might seek another doctor, the believer may seek another sect — or none.
Yet many — perhaps more — recover their belief and reliance, and the shaken trust regrows. The New Testament provides consolation and an alternative view of adversity:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Regardless of the particular religion, the sufferer might accept the limitations of a superior being alongside the strengths attributed to him.
The need for assurance provided by a cosmic entity or influential person on our side is vital. To be without faith in anyone, mortal or immortal, is a lonely and terrifying human experience.
We desire others we can trust with parts, if not the whole, of our well-being. They come to recapitulate our parents’ role as protectors in our early lives, if not to the same extreme.
Unfortunately, the urge to lean on someone or something more substantial can also be misplaced.
Some are vulnerable to the allure of charismatic, persuasive political leaders who disguise their corruption with smoke and mirrors. They offer much the same sense of caring about us, defending us from real or imaginary enemies as our mom and dad did, and offering the belief in a better future. To an extent, these individuals might be perceived as the agents of the actual deity, doing HIS work on Earth.
If officeholders are unscrupulous, sound evidence of their iniquity is sometimes shrugged off. More than a few followers find the need to believe is more essential than being alone without a worldly savior. The tricksters can appear as necessary as a God in the heavens and reinforce the thought HE has willed the anointed one’s presence.
Facts fail to defeat our reliance on a dynamic and persuasive duplicitous leader if his departure would leave us with no substitute champion to fill his role. This woman or man stands unique and extraordinary, occupying a position reminiscent of the physician or loved caretaker.
We live in hope and belief.
In their search for someone or something more extraordinary than themselves, the faithful and the faithless are not as different as they sometimes think.
In a world of uncertainty, we are thereby sustained.
Both of the photographs were provided with the kind permission of Laura Hedien: Laura Hedien Official Website. Both date from this year. The first captures a Sunrise in the Italian Dolomites in early September. The second offers the Dolomites in the Clouds.