Faith, for Jesus, is a power that can achieve the impossible. “If you have faith, as a grain of mustard seed, nothing would be impossible for you…you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it would move” (Matt. 17:20). Even more fascinating to me is that Jesus in his healing ministry did not say, “I” or “God” has healed you, he said “Your faith has healed you.” This faith is not a matter of subscribing to the Bible, to a creed or a set of doctrines and dogmas. It is a conviction—a strong conviction, but not just any conviction—true or false, good, bad or indifferent. It is the conviction that something can and will happen because it is true and good. Faith and hope are aspects of one and the same attitude of mind. My conviction that what is good and true can and will happen gives me hope.
The opposite of faith is fatalism, which is the prevailing attitude of most people, most of the time. Fatalism gets hold of me too. When I dream of a new order where brothers and sisters (of all types) live together in tranquility. When I ponder the ways in which the dispossessed of this world can be reborn and treated equally in all matter of things. When I think of how the bordellos of Rio and the bordellos everywhere might be removed from the face of the earth. When these thoughts come, the voice of fatalism often takes over. I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change the world. I must be practical and realistic. There really is no hope. There is nothing new under the sun. It isn’t possible to change what is. “The leopard cannot change its spots.” I must accept reality. I must accept what is.
To succumb to this fatalistic way of seeing things means that I do not really hope for what is good and true. It means I do not have faith, the conviction that the power of good and truth shall prevail. It means that God’s Dream is just that—a dream! Just as hope is derived from faith, so, too, despair and futility are born of fatalism.
History teaches us (if we pay attention to it) that whenever the general atmosphere of fatalism has been replaced by an atmosphere of faith, the impossible has happened. The faith of the crusaders for the right of women to vote, the faith of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, the faith of our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence, etc., demonstrate the alternative to futility—FAITH—the deep conviction that something can and will happen because it is true and good.