It appears that the biblical authors saw faith as a way of seeing—a way of envisioning the future with hope-inspired imagination. God has given us this incredible gift of being able to shape the world into the vision we have for it. The tools we use are all different, but the effect is the same: our feet and fingers translate what we see (or hear) in our imaginations to physically manifest in the form of art, food, music, architecture, or economic and political solutions. Faith is our ability to see and shape the future into whatever vision we foster on the inside, good or bad, negative or positive.
Ephesians 1:4 “God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God's presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan...” (CEB). Along with the shocking revelation of the Gentiles inclusion in the family of God, it was just as surprising that anyone could become family with God. God's plan to make (any) people his sons and daughters through adoption was only just being understood at the time of Paul’s writing—the first generation of Christians.
Romans 9 has intimidated more believers regarding predestination than probably any other passage in Scripture. Romans 9:18-21 “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use.” (NIV)
Some of us may feel like the bastion of certainty that used to be our faith is now riddled with bullet holes. Few walls remain standing. Some may feel that their spiritual life has suffered so many body slams, they aren’t sure if there is any pulse remaining. I read a poignant confession from someone who misses Jesus like she misses an ex. She misses the comfort in knowing that sweet Jesus is with her and looking out for her. She misses praying the prayers that she now no longer believes to be valid prayers. Her confession of post-deconstruction loneliness mirrors the feelings of a widow yearning for a lost lover, or of an amputee having ghost feelings in a lost limb.
I grew up in a tradition that generally believed that the world was getting worse. The idea was in the atmosphere. It was also explicitly taught as coming from the Bible. There would be teaching series from the pulpit on Bible prophecy and what to expect for the future. It was always pretty negative. And depending on whether you believed in a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture, you would have varying levels of anxiety regarding your future. But rarely ever hope.
This is so foundational to the way the universe works that even if you don't know that God sees you and has real affection for you, when you operate with this, doors will open. Things will happen. Resources will flow toward you. Opportunities will greet you. There are countless stories floating out there proving this principle.