Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1
Faith means believing without seeing or fully comprehending something. Faith is in large part based on trust, and trust is in large part based on experience. No one trusts someone they don’t know at all. 
As I was meditating on today’s scripture verse, the first that came to my mind was comparing faith to going to college, something many of us can relate to. When people go to college, they don’t KNOW exactly how things will work out. Some go to college not knowing their major or even their career objective. But those who go to college don’t know exactly where they will work once they get out, or how much money they will earn, or how they will pay off any student debt, or whether they will do well or even like their chosen career. Of course, none of these variables stop people from going to college. People set off for the great unknown on college and career with conviction that they will be successful. Of course, while those who go to college do not necessarily know how things will work out for them, they go with knowledge of how it worked out for others who have gone there before them. When we were in high school, we all knew people who went to college, graduated, got a career and were doing well. We saw people go to college and succeed, and this helped give us conviction and assurance that we could be successful as well. If the majority of people we knew who went to college went and failed, we would not have been so interested in going. 
The same could be said for finding a new job, moving to a new city, buying a home, getting married or having children. We do all of these things based not on personal knowledge or a guarantee that things will go well, but with a belief, with a faith that they will. 
So, now we go to faith in God. Faith in God is based on two things—our own personal experience of God and the experiences of others. For those who are raised Christian (as opposed to finding Christianity in adulthood), our faith first comes through our parents, who take us to church, teach us how to pray, and talk about Christ with us. Those who grow up in households where God is not spoken of, where prayer is not offered, where church is not attended, well, these children tend to grow into adults who don’t have faith in God. For those who were raised Christian, at some point, the faith has to become personal. We cannot go through life living through the faith of our parents. At some point, there has to be a personal decision to follow Christ for reasons of our own, not because of our parents.  
Growing in faith, and living a life of faith is also based on personal experience and the experience of others. Hopefully throughout life, we see to grow in our faith, to deepen our knowledge of God. We put ourselves in positions to grow—we pray, we read scripture, we worship, we go to confession, we go to retreats, and we serve others. And we also grow through the experience of others. We read the lives of the saints. We find other people of faith to encourage us when our faith is challenged. We find other role models we can look to for inspiration. 
Today’s verse tells us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And when we have faith, we live with confidence (assurance), hope, and conviction. I’ve never been to heaven, yet I believe heaven exists. I don’t know what it is like to die, yet I believe if I die having lived a life of faith, that God will look favorably on me and grant me entrance into His Kingdom. I don’t know exactly how much faith I need or how many good works will give God a favorable impression of my life, so I work hard to grow in faith, by studying, by praying and by serving. 
I still have a long way to go. However, I have a sense of hope for the future, and a sense of conviction about the present, and this is enough to give me assurance/confidence in what I’m doing on a daily basis. As I said, I still have a long way to go. And some days, I have less hope and conviction than on others. This is where my encouragers and role models come in. They help strengthen my faith when I can’t strengthen it myself.
Faith is a daily choice—you have to choose to live a life of faith every day. And with faith comes the choice to be hopeful and the choice to have conviction about that hope. Indeed, faith in God takes some courage—to trust in that which we cannot fully see or fully comprehend. Yet if we have enough faith to enter into marriage, college, career, and so many other things we do not fully comprehend or know how they will turn out, then why can’t we have faith to enter into a relationship with God? I have heard it said that it takes more faith to not believe than to believe. I don’t know if that is true, because I believe. I hope that together we can grow in our faith. I hope these messages encourage you. Your prayers encourage me. 
Lord, make my faith firm. Help me to grow in it. Give me assurance, conviction and hope. Help me to trust, even when I cannot see. Help me to trust in You plan for my life, even when I don’t understand it. Help me to stay faithful in my moments of doubt. Give me joy in my moments of strong faith, so that I may stay faithful even in my moments of weakness, clinging to that joy and that hope. Amen.
Pray, serve, grow, hope, be confident in your faith today!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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