I have spent most of my life in secular spaces. Even the religious people I know are mostly culturally religious. They practice religion because it's what their families do, and not because they profess to believe. There's this idea in secular spaces that faith is silly, and maybe even obsolete. A relic of a pre-scientific past.

To me, the opposite has always felt true. I feel that faith in Jesus and God the father is something I have in spite of myself. And I thought it might be instructive for me to talk about how I experience faith, as a person raised secular spaces. I hope that it gives you an appreciation of your own courage, as people of faith.

According to the gospel of Mark (15:34) and the gospel of Matthew (27:46), just before Jesus died on the cross, he spoke aloud to God. He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" To me, that sounds like Jesus gave up faith. His life's work of being the supposed son of God, which was going so well for him for a while, turned out pretty badly. He was suffering so much, his faith wavered...

Which didn't last long, because soon thereafter he was miraculously resurrected, and what's more, ascended into heaven. Kinda hard to lose faith in God if he brings you back from the dead, and then you ascend into heaven. It's overkill, really.

A skeptic might say, well that's nice for Jesus that he was resurrected, and that's nice for the folks who witnessed it, but I have never witnessed anything like that, and for all I know, it was an elaborate scam. And that's a fair doubt to have. Its not much different from the radical doubt that Jesus embodied, at his breaking point.

The story of the crucifixion of Jesus, represents an analysis of three stages of faith. The "dialectic" of faith, to borrow a secular word.

1) Stage One: Dying on the cross. Suffering so great that you can't help but doubt everything.
2) Stage Two: The Resurrection. "The Miracle." OK, God the Heavenly Father, so you were just messing with me, and you do love me after all. That's good to know!
3) Stage Three: The Ascension. Faith that just blows your little mortal mind. Not much you can say about that one.

I think most of us live our lives in some watered down version of Stage 1. Suffering and doubt. Or at least I do. In rare bouts of vanity, I wish for faith that supersedes hope. I flatter myself that I want proof; that I want to witness a miracle so undeniable that I don't just hope anymore; I know. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. But when I am being honest with myself, I have to admit that I can't handle a miracle like that.

Because think about what that kind of miracle means. Our friend who died three days ago, our friend whom we watched be brutalized to death, our friend whose body was in the equivalent of the morgue, suddenly rounds the corner and he's just standing there. Our dead friend is standing there. And he looks great. He doesn't look like he just nearly bled to death. He looks amazing. Luminous even.

And he's like, "Hey Guys. What's up? Good news! God exists." And all we can think is, What the @#%#$ are you doing here, dude? You're supposed to be dead. Could you possibly doubt God after that? No. You would either doubt your own sanity itself, or you would be quite certain that God exists.

Think. Think about what a burden the Gospel would be. We saw something with our own eyes that makes us doubt our own sanity. We saw something that we want to tell other people about. But what about those other people? They didn't see. Other people surely won't believe us. They will call us crazy, or worse.

It would be like being abducted by aliens, right? Witnessing a miracle, if you even choose to believe in your own sanity, could make your friends leave you, could make your family stop talking to you, or make your spouse divorce you. Sure, now you're absolutely certain God exists, but the vast majority of your mortal cohort does not know this.

Spreading the word is not easy. And when I am being honest with myself, I don't think I can handle a miracle. I can deal with the mundane miracle of Being itself. I can deal with the sun rising and setting, and the abundance of life. But I can't handle a ressurection-type miracle, which maybe is why I have not been chosen to witness it.

This is how I pray. I say, please Jesus, please let me live my beautiful little life. All I want is my family, my friends. An invigorating breeze, the occasional restaurant meal, a good book and a movie. I don't want a miracle. No alarms and no surprises, please.

Santa Maria, Mãe de Deus. Por favor, na me escolha! Please don't choose me. I will meet my miracle that renders hope obsolete, I will meet the miracle that converts my faith into knowledge. That I am sure of, but please, don't let be yet.

How I am sure that I do have faith that is neither mere hope nor mere certainty, is how earnestly I pray to a God that I am not sure exists, to spare me the miracle of true faith for as long as humanly possible.