Every Christian believes. Belief, faith, is the gateway to the Christian life and we mark our conversion from the moment we first believed: I have heard the gospel, I have put my faith in Jesus Christ. I believe!
Belief is the gateway to the Christian life but it is far more than that. I believed in the day I put my faith in Jesus—a once-for-all belief that can never be removed or revoked. But belief is also a decision I need to make day by day and circumstance by circumstance. The longer I live as a Christian, the more I find myself declaring to myself, “I believe.” Especially in moments of sorrow, loss, or confusion: “I believe.”
A couple of weeks ago, just as my flight touched down in Vancouver, my phone buzzed with a notification. It was my childhood best friend letting me know that his mother had died. Surgery had led to complications, her condition had deteriorated, intervention had failed, and she had passed away. Irene had played a major role in my younger life, loving me almost as a son, providing a source of wisdom and godliness that complemented my parents. My phone buzzed, I saw the words, and said, “I believe!” I believe in the gospel. I believe in salvation by grace through faith. I believe in the resurrection. So right here and right now and in this very circumstance I will believe. For the next hour, as I drove to the conference location, I reflected, I prayed, I worshiped, I believed.
On a recent trip to Ireland I was down by the ocean, working my way to the best vantage point for a photograph when I slipped, fell hard, and heard something in my arm go crunch. For a moment I lay on the ground. I knew this was no major medical trauma, but I also knew I was thousands of miles from home, away from my wife and family, away from my doctor, away from my medical care. I knew that something was pretty badly amiss in my arm. Lying on my back, wiggling my fingers, trying to straighten out my arm, what came to mind was “I believe.” I believe that God’s sovereignty is real, that his love is true, that his purposes are good, even though it may be tough to see while lying flat on my back in a foreign land.
Time and again I’ve encountered difficult circumstances, I’ve felt pain, I’ve experienced loss, I’ve wondered why. I’ve had to choose to believe. Right here and right now, I’m making the decision. I’m declaring it aloud to myself and anyone else who cares to hear it: I believe.