By Guest Blogger Mandie DeVries
St. Paul defines faith as the “evidence of things not seen,” but we all experience times when circumstances appear to be evidence that our faith is vain, that God does not save, and that the Holy Spirit does not move with power–or at least (and maybe worst) that He does not really love us at all.
I have experienced times like this. My faith gets the “weakies”, worn down by perceived Job-like suffering, (mine or someone else’s) or maybe just by chronic bad moods, and I feel like I’m all out of juice, sputtering along with a nearly empty tank.
Then I wonder, how can I write an article about faith and the Holy Spirit when I feel like I’m about to run out of gas?
Faith and Miracles
For a long time, I have looked at miracles as a kind of “faith juice.” You know, when our faith is running low on power, God sends a miracle to help fill us back up.
But there are some problems with this notion. What if God doesn’t send a miracle? What if despite all of the rosaries and novenas and fasting, a friend’s husband still dies of cancer, or a 13 year old is tortured and martyred for his faith, or that precious infant whose conception itself was a miracle dies before she has a chance to be born?
The Old Testament and New are filled with examples of folks who stall out in this loop between miracles and faith. God sustained the physical needs and the faith of the chosen people with parting of the Red Sea, the manna, the quail, water from a rock, etc. Yet they grumbled and doubted.
Jesus changed water into wine, fed the five thousand, raised people from the dead, and was even transfigured before the eyes of Peter and the sons of Zebedee. Yet when the moment of apparent contradiction came—the test of faith—only John remained. It’s like their faith ran out of gas.
All the memory of great works in the world could not withstand the scandal of the cross.
While it is true that miracles attest to the fact that Christ is sent by the Father and that the Kingdom is present in him, miracles are an invitation to belief (CCC 547-550). Faith must be powered by something else.
Perhaps if this article were on the topic of miracles, I would never have made this connection, but we do know that the Apostles and Christians down through the centuries have laid down their lives in the midst of difficult and impossible situations, and have persevered in faith. Since the morning of Pentecost, our Church has been infused with the powerhouse of faith: the Holy Spirit.
This knowledge is comforting to me. Rather than my faith simply being a response to God—as if the Holy Spirit were only the object of my faith, I can finally see that that faith can survive, nay, thrive, even in the darkest hour of suffering. “The evidence” of the unseen Holy Spirit is that we can persevere, even when we feel like we’re running out of faith. “I believe, help my unbelief!”