I wonder if you have heard of Wordle. It has been causing me some serious self-esteem issues over the last few weeks. My kids are better at it than me and my students seem to get it before I do. Wordle is a word puzzle in which you have six attempts to guess a five-letter word. I am not normally one for puzzles and I may have rather mercilessly mocked my wife when she first started doing it with some of her girlfriends. But now I am hooked, and I am not good at it, and it is awful to be hooked on something that you are not good at.
What never ceases to amaze me is how many five letter words there are. So many options. So many of which I have never heard of before. There are, however, two five letter words, that I do know pretty well and I am just waiting for them to appear on Wordle. One is faith, the other is doubt.
As you know our school motto is – The faith must be kept. In latin, it is Fides Servanda Est. In Te Reo, it is Mau tonu ki te whakapono. Our Presbyterian forebears who founded Saint Kentigern chose a motto with the five-letter word faith at the heart of it. I imagine they chose this motto because they knew what the absence of faith can do.
In the letter of James in the New Testament, it describes someone who lives in doubt as like rough water on a sea that is moved here and there. It says, someone full of doubt is double minded and unstable in all their ways. This description of doubt resonates with me. I know what it feels like to be double minded, pulled in different directions and unsure of the way forward. You might find this hard to relate to. You may have the perfect Instagram worthy life and consistently succeed at Wordle in two attempts, but doubt is something that most of us battle constantly. Do I have what it takes? Am I someone that others want to be around? Will things work out?
It comforts me to know that Jesus surrounded himself with these sorts of people. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends sank into the water, when initially he dreamt of walking on it. Thomas refused to believe Jesus could do what he said he could and was nicknamed “The Doubter”. Mary was so full of doubt that she grabbed hold of Jesus and wouldn’t let him go. Even Job described in the Bible as the most righteous man that lived, at one point said “You, O Lord destroy the hope of man.” Job 19:14. Although chances are you will not find that bible verse printed on any pencil or tee-shirt at a Christian bookstore.
Jesus, knew the powerful hold that doubt can have on us. He knew what the absence of faith can do and so he constantly encouraged those who followed him in faith. He spoke of a God unparalleled in his faithfulness to us. A God who never gives up on us. Jesus had this awesome way of seeing the seeds of faith in those he spent time with and he wanted them, just like he wants us to hold fast and stand fast in faith, faith in our maker, faith in ourselves and faith in each other. Jesus promises that when we learn to be faithful with the little things then we show ourselves to be trust-worthy with the great things.
So, in this season of cancellations and disappointments, as our wallets and our patience are stretched, as countries war, and the pressure to “have it all together” seems as real as it is exhausting, can I encourage you to keep the faith. Can I encourage you to trust in the God who can drive the doubt of dark away, the God who will make a way for us when there seems to be no way, the God who is great in faithfulness, so great that morning by morning new mercies we see.
Fides Servanda Est
Rev Reuben B. Hardie