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Life of Faith, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

51- Simplicity of faith

 

Simplicity of faith; many intellectuals seek it but do not find It. Once a philosopher passed by a simple peasant who was praying with strong ardour while kneeling down in solemnity. The peasant was talking to God with persistence and familiarity as if he was standing before Him. The philosopher then said; I am ready to give up all my philosophy, in return that I acquire something of the faith of this simple man who talks with all this confidence to whom he does not see.

The philosopher felt that this simple man possessed something very precious that with all his philosophy he could not obtain.

Simplicity of faith believes everything concerning God and accepts it without investigation or argument, being the argument which the intellectuals are famous for.

This simplicity reminds us of the faith of children who believe in theological and spiritual facts. They have the confidence that does not doubt or lie and does not oppose the mind. Maybe that is one of the reasons that made Jesus tell His disciples Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3). The faith of an adult may be deeper, but the faith of a child is more innocent,

simple and sincere; true faith has no doubt in it. May your faith be strong like that of a child's.

I do not agree with those who say that children are non-believers. Paul the apostle, tells his disciple Timothy From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3: 15). How great was the praise of Jesus to the child He set in the middle of the disciples (Matt. 18:2,3).

St-Takla.org Image: Kids praying - Published with permission of the brother's parents (Philopatir & Fabio Nasser), and the boys themselves - Photograph by Michael Ghaly for St-Takla.org صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أطفال يصلون - منشورة بإذن أسرة الأخان (فيلوباتير وفابيو ناصر) أصحاب الصورة، والأطفال أنفسهم - تصوير مايكل غالي لـ: موقع الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت

St-Takla.org Image: Kids praying - Published with permission of the brother's parents (Philopatir & Fabio Nasser), and the boys themselves - Photograph by Michael Ghaly for St-Takla.org

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أطفال يصلون - منشورة بإذن أسرة الأخان (فيلوباتير وفابيو ناصر) أصحاب الصورة، والأطفال أنفسهم - تصوير مايكل غالي لـ: موقع الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت

He who follows the simplicity of faith, lives far from the complications of the mind, and lives far from what the mind presents from doubts, thoughts, and may be even misleading. Really, the mind's balance is from God but it may err if separated from faith.

Faith is a kind of splendour God presents to the mind so as to enlighten it.

If the mind stands alone it troubles its owner with ideas. If David, the young man, depended only on his mind and thoughts, he would have feared Goliath. Saul and his army did, but David depended on the simple faith, according to what he told Goliath This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand (1 Sam. 17:46). However, how did God give them all in their hands? David did not think of that but left it to God Himself because war is to God (1 Sam. 17:46). This is faith. With it David won the war even more than those who used their minds as to balance the matters.

Simple faith is a matter of confidence and not a matter of thinking.

Even if the mind said that war searches for the balance of powers and how one side will overcome? The answer is simple: if God entered the battle He would change the human idea of the balance of power, and David with God's power will be much stronger than Goliath without this balance of power. Here we see that faith -with its simplicity- does not contradict the mind and its balances.

He who lives in simple faith lives without anxiety because anxiety usually comes because of much thinking or that a person thinks about problems in an intellectual way. But in the simplicity of faith the person does what he can and leaves the more important point to God Himself and is not anxious. His confidence that God works for him gives him peace of heart and does not allow anxiety to overcome his feelings.

He who has this simple faith is not anxious because he leaves God the control of his matters. If he has confidence in the good care of God in his life, so he won't worry about tomorrow, because the God of tomorrow will take care of it, and he will welcome everything that happens in his life with the expression All things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28).

But he who places his thinking in place of the Godly arrangement will tire a lot and carry his anxieties instead of letting God carry them for him.

The confidence of simple faith in granting prayers, takes away anxiety.

Maybe you all know the story of this village that suffered from dryness. The people of the village decided to set a prayer day so that God causes rain to fall. All went to pray and a young girl went carrying an umbrella. When they asked her about the reason, she said: aren't we praying because of rain? What shall we then do when God hears our prayers and it starts to rain and we don't have any umbrellas? She had faith that God will grant their prayer. And because of her faith it did rain.

This simple faith has its strength regarding miracles and visions. A miracle can happen to a person and not to another, because the former, in his simple faith, believes and accepts it. But for the latter, the difficulties that his mind presents, make him doubt inside himself about its ability to happen.

The same also happens concerning visions, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Some see the Godly visions by their simple faith, and others do not owing to the complications of their minds. This is very clear as it happened during the appearance of the Virgin Mary in her church in Zeitoun, Cairo.

The mind tries to analyse everything scientifically or else it will not believe. As for faith, it needs belief, in simplicity, far from the complications of their minds.

That's why miracles and visions happen mostly to simple people. But for most intellectuals, who disapprove of them and who mock their believers, it rarely happens to them whether to bring them to faith or so that they are a witness of them (John 15:22).

Even the Jews did not believe the miracle of the man who was born blind and said that he who healed him was a sinner (John 9:24). The mind put the problem of healing on a Sabbath in front of them, so that they lost faith (John 9:16).

That is why Jesus said of those and praised the simple I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. " (Matt. 11:25). With the word babes, He meant the simple faith. But those wise and learned in this verse are those who are proud of their knowledge and understanding, and who only depend on their minds far from faith, even some of the spiritual men admitted in sorrow and said: this is the fruit which Adam and Eve ate from. they meant by that, the knowledge away from God.

One of the nights I was coming back after visiting one of the fathers in the mountain.

Darkness was already spreading and it was told to me don't come back alone to the monastery so that you don't get lost. I knew the way quite well and I believed in God's guidance and in spite of that I said If I get lost then I'll spend the night in the desert till morning. I had faith in my depth in God's protection, especially that many bedouins spend the nights in the desert without fear, but it was told to me you are more simple than usual, and you don't know the mountain. Because the mountain is full of insects, bears and there is also the danger of fierce animals and other weather conditions. The mind was always talking in my ears to remove what I had in my heart from simple faith. I came back at that same night to the monastery with one of the fathers. My mind did not give me at that time any chance to experience the work of God with those who walk at night in the desert. Or even, to experience the faith of the bedouin who spends each night there, and the care and protection of God is with him.

 

I thank God that He compensated me for that later on when I lived alone in the mountain.

The mind can imagine danger everywhere and at the same time does not give the thinking a chance in God's work. On the contrary, it causes the non believer to be afraid.

That does not mean that a person throws himself in jeopardy without wisdom. If a person was as cautious as can be and then found himself in a so called 'danger' then with all simplicity he will have confidence in God's protection and care, and sings with the Prophet David A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. " (Ps 91:7).

Simple faith has confidence that God's hand will interfere to rescue and solve any problem.

The person believes totally that God, as a lover of human beings, and doer of benevolences, will no doubt interfere in the problem according to His promise to His children and He'll spread His hands to solve it.

But how does this happen? Simple faith does not ask that.

He accepts the work of grace in simplicity without investigating how it works.

How many times did we try to solve our problems with human methods and all these ways failed and did not have any results. The fingerprints of God were clear beyond all thinking.

Simple faith has confidence in God's work, by belief and experience.

Faith brings the person to trials. Tests deepen the faith and build it on firm basis and not on theoretical ones. Faith and trials strengthen one another until the person reaches conviction and simplicity of faith.

Simple faith has confidence that everything is possible and that nothing is impossible.

It has complete confidence that God can do all things and that no plan can be thwarted (Job 42:2), even if it was difficult to understand it happening. The person believes in the Lord's saying All things are possible to him who believes. (Mark 9:23).

That's why simple faith, is beyond all doubts.

It is a strong faith, stronger than any doubt, because doubts are the work of the mind, and the mind is proud of its measures. But the believer has overcome the stage of the mind and has lived in a higher and deeper level. Higher than the doubts is the simplicity of faith.

Some try to transfer the problem of religion to philosophy and to bring it out of the heart and the soul and restrict it only to the limit of the mind.

That was what Saint Paul the apostle fought with all his might, and said Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (1 Cor. 1:17-20)

No doubt, the simple believer who treasures up his faith in himself, above the level of investigation, is stronger in faith than some theologians who acquire their faith from books. They think they have faith. It may be that faith that can be easily shaken by the opposite intellectual thoughts.

Train yourself to the life of simple faith, and make use of the experience that happens in your life or the life of others, and do not let much thinking keep you far from faith.


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