How do you believe? It’s a tricky question, right? I mean, it’s not like cooking or riding a bike or playing left field where there is a step by step process you can take to learn. You might argue, “But there are belief classes! That’s what church is!” But most of the time, those classes that are about beliefs aren’t so much about how to believe, but what to believe.
Those classes teach you about doctrine, or biblical history, or apologetics, or whatever. They teach you what to believe, but they don’t teach you how to believe.
The Greeks thought believing involved the intellect. We have sort of adopted the same idea into our English understanding, that belief is about assenting to a certain set of facts which you hold to be true. So the “how” of believing, from that mindset, involved proof. But the Hebrew mindset is different. As an illustration, take a look at two ways the root word for “believe” is used in the Old Testament:
Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down (Exodus 17:12).
The first usage is pretty straightforward; the second one is not so much. Where’s the “belief” in the Exodus passage? The word “believe” is the same as the words “remained steady.” Now that’s interesting, and pretty revelatory about the Hebrew concept of belief.
It’s not something you float in and out of. It’s not just about the intellect; it’s hard. It’s about perseverance. It’s about remaining steady. So what is the answer to the initial question of how to believe?
You work at it. And sometimes – many times – it’s hard work to believe. As hard as holding your hands above your head for an entire day. It’s hard to believe God when the circumstances of life are as heavy as your arms at 3 pm.
It’s hard to believe, and that’s why it’s work.