If dark times are inevitable, can we believe during good times? For those whose natural predisposition is optimistic, the struggle of faith seems rather easy. For those who hold a pessimistic attitude toward life, the struggle can seem insurmountable. But optimism and pessimism—even as common as those predispositions are for most of us—differ markedly from what I call the “work of faith.” Some people have the “gift of faith,” but that is not true for most of us. Most of us must “work” at faith. In other words, growing faith is more like exercising for an athletic or health benefit.
As a runner and diabetic I run almost every day. I help manage my diabetes with this discipline, and I find that if something precludes my daily run I pay a price. But my longtime discipline gets me back on the running paths. If I miss more than a day or two then I really suffer, and I have to remind myself that the pain of recovering my conditioning is worth the effort; and it is.
The psalmist opens with his profession of faith: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” He lacks for nothing; God furnishes provision for food, drink, shelter. God leads him, teaches him, just like a good personal trainer or coach. And the perks of getting into “faith” shape is that certain benefits accrue: comfort, goodness, mercy. For some a fearlessness emerges. I want all of these benefits in my life, and my desire is the beginning of faith for me. I am glad the psalmist continues to remind me of this spiritual reality.

Jesus, help me exercise my faith and grow in that discipline, so that I grow closer and closer to you. Amen.


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