"Faith" such an ambiguous word. It is used too many ways to give a clear picture in my head as to what it means. "My Faith" could designate where I go to church, a trust I have given someone or even an ethnic background. It could be a hope: "I have faith that all will work out". "My" faith also has a connotation that mine is different than yours, indicating a catalog of things that I believe and possibly you do not; a differentiator as opposed to a uniter.
I sometimes have trouble wrapping my mind around the word. I do know that it is much deeper than the shallow definitions above.
First of all, I know that it is a choice. A deliberate act of choosing to believe in something. I do not have faith that there is an Earth. I know that there is an Earth. Knowledge and Faith, while not incompatible, are not in the same family of thought. You choose to have faith while with knowledge you either know or you don't know.
Faith leaves open the possibility of being wrong. I have faith in God and Jesus His Son. I have no knowledge of this fact. I was not there. I did not see Jesus. I have never met Moses. Yet I still have faith that these people lived and breathed and were who they said they were. Yet, the atheists could also be right. They too have a faith: They have chosen not to believe. One of is is most assuredly wrong. I can not prove which it is and neither can they.
It is impossible, I believe, to have faith and not have doubt. Especially in this age of reason and science it does seem to be a little naive to believe in something that can not be seen or evidenced though scientific methods. Doubt is the constant companion of faith. Thus, faith must also be mated to conviction. There is a certain amount of stubbornness that must accompany faith to keep the hounds of doubt at bay.
Faith is trust when there is often no foundation to the trust. I look at the Hebrew prophets. They had no written word, for the most part. They only had some history to look back on; things that were told to them and they chose to believe. As I read the Bible I see them being reminded and reminding others of that history. Yet, even with that, which I would call a dubious foundation, they were willing to take great risks, venture into the unknown, uproot families and even die. Their faith clearly included trust.
Faith puts one in a place to be ridiculed. Faith is often called into question. Faith is often challenged. Faith will make you uncomfortable because there are those that are very talented in feeding doubt and making you feel small, out of date or silly because of what you believe. It can even cost you your dignity, friendships, and even family. There is no such thing as cheap faith. If it is cheap, it is not true faith.
Faith is not built on what I know. What I know can change too easily. For example: If I say "I know that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and that there is no room for mistakes or human influence" I can be very happy with my faith for a long time. Then someone says "What about the books that did not get into the Bible as we know it?" or "Did the solders around Saul see the light and not hear the sound or was it the other way around?". We can start a conversation on translations and the theology that os presented based solely on the words the translators chose to render a thought originally expressed in Greek. These things an more can change what I "Know" to be true. Faith, because it is a conscious act of will, unfettered by a shifting knowledge, will not be daunted by these types of enlightenments.
I know faith is more than even these. Faith changes lives, sets direction and is the mother to hope. Faith is much more than could be annotated in a few short paragraphs. Faith, is a creation of God and carries with it a depth that is as deep as its creator.
Though tossed and bruised; though strong one day and weak the next; though my life does not always reflect my faith: I, like Joshua, choose this day and every day to serve the Lord.