The Math of Faith

Always when we are confronted with a complex math problem we will wrestle with doubt as to whether we can actually solve it. We will feel insecure how to approach it and the path towards the solution, which we know exist, is far from obvious. This is the agony of faith or laboring faith, if you like. It in many ways resembles or feels like laboring up a steep hill. There is nothing wrong with having a laboring faith and we do not take any condemnation for it.

In accordance with the nature of math different paths will have to be explored in order to find the one that leads to the answer. These paths might be Hagar, Saul or even Judas, and they will contribute nothing towards a solution. But, there is wisdom to be extracted from each of them.

While wrestling with the problem still laboring uphill in faith you will pass a certain point of elevation and in the instant you are there you suddenly know that the answer is within your reach. It is like you are standing in front of a wide open expanse, and a profound peace settles in. This is the laboring faith becoming the rest of faith. There is still terrain to traverse, but now the steps are light while the final calculations are made with confidence, peace and a quiet joy.

In a true faith adventure the settling in doesn’t come from the persons involved. Nor does it come from circumstances. It comes from He who is the Substance.

In any commission humbleness is a deed. Don’t think too highly about yourself when there is no reason to. If you are wrestling with doubt; admit it. If you are stuck; admit it. If you don’t radiate the level of faith you thought you had; admit it. Call for assistance from the Teacher who gives liberally without upbraiding anyone. Stubbornly wrestling with the problem without calling for assistance will only leave you mulling over it without making any progress.

The mystery of faith (and of math) will remain unknown to a person if he does not have the will to enter therein. He enters by his own free will and by that is joined to the Spirit of faith. To stand on the outside is safe, but the glory belongs to the one who is inside the adventure.

The desire that drove a person to commit himself to a given task might grow cold halfway through. He might either give up his desire or have it renewed. If he give up he will be praised for his heroic effort and applauded for that he tried, but he will soon be forgotten. No one will charge him for having given up. No one will condemn him for it, but only those who persist to the end will be remembered in the spirit of Abraham.

Of course there will be pain and suffering along the road. It will sometimes hurt so much that we are tempted like Jonah to run away and build our own shield to cast a protective shadow over our heads. However, the shield will soon wither and the sun will find us again and burn our heads until we give in and move on.

A Norwegian poet wrote: Without uphills it is impossible to climb higher.

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10 Responses to The Math of Faith

  1. Roel Velema says:

    Thanks Ole Henric. It reminds me of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems which show that a theorem relative to an axiomatic system cannot always necessarily be proven by logical deductions, nor can an axiomatic system be constructed to solve every possible related theorem.
    Spiritually speaking, there is a possibility that a reasonable answer will never come within our reach, nor through a Hagar, nor through a Judas or whoever. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are God’s dark night of the soul. There may be situations when the theorem of our circumstances will not match the axioms of our convictions or God’s axiomatic system.
    “Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Ps. 97:2).
    God’s axiomatic system, His foundation, which is the foundation of His throne, is surrounded by clouds en thick darkness. The only way to overcome any paradox or perplexity in our circumstances is through “righteousness and justice”, which Paul wrote are ours because of Him (1 Cor. 1:30). The only way to solve perplexity is through our organic union with Christ, because perplexity has no place within our resurrection life with Christ.
    The unregenerated person has his own foundation, the foundations of the earth (Ps. 82:5); therefore he walks in his own darkness. He shall die and fall because he neglected the truth that “you are gods, sons of the most High” (Ps. 82:6). However, the darkness around God’s throne is a blessed darkness, yet the principle remains the same: only through our identity with Christ can we pass though the dark night of the soul to the throne of God.
    You aptly said: ‘It comes from He who is the Substance’. Job never got a logical, straightforward, mathematical answer to his questions, only in terms of Christ, the Substance. Once we know we are substance of the Substance, all the theorems of our circumstances are incorporated in Him, whether we can prove or reason out anything or not.

  2. susan droger says:

    What a wonderfull way to describe our walk of faith…………….thankyou.I look forward to recieving more insightfull messages.Ohhh this love that has no measure………………glorious.

  3. Donald Konick says:

    Ole,
    I really like this, it’s a great analogy.

  4. Roel Velema says:

    Paul was a keen mathematician. This can be seen in Titus 1:12: “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons”.
    Well, if all Cretans are liars, then this prophet – a Cretan too – is also a liar and therefore this saying will also be a lie, which implies that Cretans speak the truth.
    Also, if all Cretans speak the truth, then this saying is also true, which states that all Cretans are liars. In mathematics this is called a paradox.
    How does Paul deal with this paradox? He simple says: “This saying (this testimony) is true”. Paul saw through this mathematical problem and responded in a spiritual way.
    How do we deal with paradoxes and perplexities in our own lives? Simply by saying that it’s true what God has to say about us. What is true about Christ, is also true about us and true about the Word of God. It is a mystery, a contradiction, as God manifests Himself in a hidden way.
    The New Testament is one great paradox of life out of death and an important derived paradox is “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). This paradox was constantly with Paul, for example, when he says that he is the least of all saints. But he adds: “grace was given” (Eph. 3:8).
    Likewise, Paul was ‘perplexed’ about the Galatians, because they didn’t live according to the God given paradox of the mystery, so he was in travail to see Christ fully formed in them. Every believer is a paradox, because who in the world understands that we are “perplexed, yet not in despair” (2 Cor. 4:6), and rejoice in sorrow and sufferings?

  5. Roel Velema says:

    Ole Henrik, your article shows clearly that it’s so profitable when we see with spiritual eyes analogies between mathematics and faith. But this is also true in its seeming differences. For example, in the Bible the number zero is not used. A Jewish child of a few months old was considered to be ‘one’ and a part of a year was reckoned to be a complete year. There is nothingness is the Bible (cp. Gal. 6:3), a complete going down to zero, but once we stand on resurrection ground, where God is All in all, the number zero no longer exists. Therefore, we should never accept with false modesty the voice of the devil that we are ‘a nobody’. We organically are marvelously ‘one’ with Him, with the ‘one’ Man who saved us, and we are sons of ‘one’ Father, in ‘one’ royal family, with ‘one’ hope of our calling, in the ‘one’-ness of ‘one’ Spirit in ‘one’ body with the saints.
    “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day”, says Peter (2 Peter 3:8).
    ‘One’ leads to a thousand, i.e. it leads to victory and abundant fruit (cp. Joshua 23:10; Isa. 30:17; 60:22). A thousand also leads to ‘one’, because it all emanates out of Him.
    So, we should never lose sight of this ‘one’ thing.

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Dear Roel, again I am blessed by your words and insights into the mystery. I love how you add to and expand on what I penned down one night I couldn’t sleep. This sentence in particular jumped out from the page and flashed up something inside of me: “A Jewish child of a few months old was considered to be ‘one’ and a part of a year was reckoned to be a complete year.” Yes and amen! Thanks for blessing me again! Have a great day!

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