Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Difference Between Belief and Faith

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The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful man-made structures in the world.

The bridge guards the entrance to San Francisco Bay, with rough, shark-infested waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the safety of the bay and the busyness of downtown San Francisco to the east. When the fog rolls in, the deep red earth tones of the bridge seem to seep through the mist and melt it away.

But sometimes the fog is too thick and the bridge is obscured, hidden to those who desire to view its beauty.

photo by Nathan Jones (creative commons)

Countless tourists have been frustrated by the fog, and they never get to see the bridge. It is one thing to believe that the bridge is beautiful without ever seeing it. It is another to view the beauty yourself.

And for most of us, to use an old cliche, seeing is believing.

But Do You Ever Believe Without Seeing?

Belief is about acting on a certainty. Something you can see. Something you can hear. Something you can prove. Something you know to be true without a hint of doubt.

It is crossing a bridge when you can see all the way across to the other side, and when the destination is desirable.

When safety is certain, when the reward is desirable, when you have removed all risk from the equation, who can blame you for getting started?

Most of us, and understandably so, live lives of belief. When we begin with certainty, we are willing to endure something difficult because of the guarantee we begin with.

Acting in Faith is Different than Acting in Belief.

The opposite of faith isn’t unbelief, but rather expecting certainty before you take a step.

Faith is about embracing uncertainty. It is acting even when we don’t know the outcome.

It is choosing to cross a bridge that nobody else has ever crossed and without knowing exactly what is on the other side.

I’m not suggesting that you proceed without caution or that you don’t perform a risk benefit evaluation. Acting on faith isn’t for everyone and it isn’t something we necessarily need to do all of the time.

But the only way we will live a truly incredible story, is if at some point we act in faith. When we do the work even when we don’t know what will become of it.

The Ability to Act in Faith Lies in What You Hope For.

If you your hope is in the outcome, then maybe it isn’t worth it to risk too much.

But if your hope is in the process, the changes that comes as you struggle towards something better, or if your work is important, such as loving those who are unloved, then maybe the outcome and certainty don’t matter as much.

Have you ever acted in faith? When you choose your story, what do you hope for?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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12 Replies

  1. Mark Ackley

    I find it interesting that in those instances when I have lost faith, it has been in people. Unlike the Golden Gate bridge, their paint could not melt fog away, rather it is a facade that prevents others from seeing

    Belief is more personal, and it’s that feeling I get inside me that knows I’m on the right path.

    I think that when we truly believe in ourselves, we are stronger in our faith.

  2. Sabine Jung

    “It is choosing to cross a bridge that nobody else has ever crossed and without knowing exactly what is on the other side.” That’s a great definition of faith!

    Sometimes circumstances force us to walk by faith, when losing partner and job the one after the other, and when life has to go on. Faith is then the choice to stand straight on my feet, to look upwards seeking peace and joice, accepting to change to discover unknown, continuing to walk without any sight foreward.

    Faith is to know that i am not alone, but together with the One who leads me with His light on the path which will be mine as long as i keep moving on it, step after step, overcoming fear and fatigue, with the certitude to arrive one day at the haven He prepared for me…

  3. I just heard to sermons on hope. They both said that we think of hope as merely an “optimistic desire” when the Bible calls it a “confident expectation.” I think hope also helps us differentiate between belief and faith. When we believe its almost more of a desire – but faith is an expectation

  4. Kandace

    I can sometimes struggle with having faith and not sacrificing all wisdom. I seem to lean towards believing for the impossible and many times I have seen just that! I needed this blog today as I am getting ready to step out in faith on a project and I do not want to focus on the outcome but the process that is growing me, leading me and changing me.

  5. Love the reminder to hope in the process and not in the product … that’s a keeper of a concept!


    Good post, Jeremy. Faith is striving for what lies ahead, even when the fog surrounds us. Herb Brooks, the coach of the 1980 US hockey team used to say, “we must sacrifice for the unknown.” That’s something I think about a lot.

  7. That’s a great quote and it sums up what I was trying to say very well.

  8. I’m a product guy myself. I love outcomes and need the constant reminder to live in the process instead.

  9. Wow. Sounds like a great step for you.

  10. Few act on desires, but if we have a confident expectation, then we might act.

  11. Thanks for sharing your journey, Sabine.

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