Faith as a Tool for Meaning-Making
I shared with someone recently about how faith is much deeper, richer and personal than a religious tradition or set of doctrinal beliefs. It’s more about the quality of the individual than of the system. This type of faith is the kind that carries a person through adversity and tough times. It allows us to make sense of the world around us and our relation to it.
This truth comes up almost daily in my ministry to people undergoing a crisis, like in the case of a traumatic event, death, poor diagnosis, etc. People find ways to make sense of and understand life-changing moments, relationships, and themselves. This process is called meaning-making.
I’m reminded of a quote I read from James Fowler’s book titled “The Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.” It says:
“Faith, then, is a quality of human living. At its best it has taken the form of serenity and courage and loyalty and service: a quiet confidence and joy which enable one to feel at home . . . and to find meaning in the world and in one’s own life, a meaning that is profound and ultimate, and is stable no matter what may happen to oneself at the level of immediate event.”* Fowler goes on to explain that these kinds of people face catastrophe and confusion without being shaken.
This hits home right now as the world is experiencing a health crisis. How do we make sense of everything that is going on? I suggest that we make sense of what’s going on by relying on and trusting in God. Our faith in Jesus is what allows us to say that “we’re going to make it.” This was the message that Pastor Craig gave last week. It’s the message that he repeated this week. More importantly, it’s the message that is written throughout the Bible.
Our faith in God is a disposition of the heart. It’s about trusting and relying on God completely. Although we may not know what is going to happen in the future, we know who holds the future. This is more of less what the Psalmist was sharing in the 23rd Psalm. It says:
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
As we all deal with the effects of COVID-19, I encourage you to remind yourself about how God has carried you through tough times in the past. I invite you to journal or reflect on the following questions:
1) How has God carried you through tough times in the past?
2) How has faith given you a sense of calmness and peace during tough times?
3) How do you see God involved in your life during the COVID-19 health crisis?
* James W. Fowler, Stages of Faith: the Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (New York: HarperOne, 1995), p.11.