If you leave your house certain you turned off the stove you do not fear a fire. You do not give it a second thought. Yet if you are uncertain of having turned off the stove it is very difficult to stop thinking about it. Faith is like the certainty of having turned off the stove.
It is human to move from faith to faithlessness throughout the day. Being animals with a fight, flight, paralysis survival instinct our biology often hijacks our higher intelligence and common sense. It doesn’t help that most of modern advertising is designed to influence and control is through our survival instincts. Craving and fear are manipulated. Just think of a food commercial showing you delicious food. Food makers in know that humans are designed to get the most amount of calories with the least effort. So foods high in calories are more naturally appealing in terms of short term survival. This of course goes against the facts of modern life where high calories are not needed for survival and actually are the source of much sickness.
Luckily faith can be much easier to develop than a diet change or exercise habit. I have found that a quick thought that God protects me, my family, and friends works much better than prolonged prayer. When prayer and blessings became my work I actually had to stop and think about why this was true. I went through a period of wondering if I was just lazy. Slowly, through through investigation, I realized that I had such confidence in God that I assumed my quick prayer would be answered. I have found the opposite to be true. A prolonged intense prayer did not yield better results. I suspect it is because the more intense the prayer the more fear and doubt was infused in it. Quick confident prayers without much emotion, but full of faith, have been more effective for me.
I’m not advocating laziness. I think about and focus on God often. I spent a lot of time as a child thinking about God and the meaning of life, still do. Looking back I realize I was a strange child. Maybe I’m a strange adult too. But I think I’m no different than people who think a lot about football, politics, music, fashion, food. For me faith is fascinating. I never feel alone. That doesn’t mean I never feel lonely. I’m human and have no desire to run away from my human experience. Hawaiian spirituality is an integrated spirituality. There is no preferring the spiritual to the material and no preferring the material to the spiritual. Nor do we prefer the intellectual or emotional over each other or the spiritual. Everything is kept in harmony.
I don’t always understand God but you don’t need understanding to love. When you were a baby you loved your mom and dad without understanding. In fact, if you think about it, the more intellectual and canals of understanding some people get the more they lose love for their parents. Then it takes a lot more effort to understand them to forgive and love them again. The same can be true of a relationship with God and even ourselves. All relationships are subject to misunderstanding and a loss of faith. These crisis are like sickness. Sickness challenges and strengthens the immune system. Spiritual sickness strengthens faith and develops wisdom.
Of course there are times we can’t do it alone. Sometimes we have to go to the doctor. A spiritual doctor is a monk or minister. Spiritual doctors are not afraid to be compassionate. The definition of compassion is to suffer with. Anyone who is able to suffer with you without preaching or scolding is a minister. True love is warm-hearted presence. Sometimes God sends humans because that is the right medicine for your ailment. All prayers are answered all the time. It is on us to learn to listen and see the answer and then accept the offering. Many times the answer offered is rejected because it doesn’t come in the way we expect. If things aren’t going the way you expect or want, before lamenting, pray for understanding. Then be open. A clenched fist cannot receive and neither can a closed heart and spirit. Be open. Be open even when scared. This is the way to develop strength in faith.