This is such a big topic I'm sure whole books could be written about it. My discussion of it will be very personal. When you read our book, Aloha is Forever, you'll understand much better the role faith had in our lives when our son disappeared in Hawaii.
We've received a lot of feedback from people stating they were amazed at our faith and that they would never have enough faith to be able to face a similar circumstance. So let me start out by saying that we take no credit at all. There really is nothing special about us! The Bible says in Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." And in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
There is no doubt in my mind that faith was the most important ingredient in facing the loss of our son. Losing a loved one whether that be a child, a grandchild, a spouse, a parent or even a pet is one of the most difficult and potentially devastating situations we face in life. And we all face it numerous times.
It can strengthen our faith or destroy it. It's a little bit like the parable Jesus told about the man who built his house on the rock and the one who built his house on the sand in Matthew 7:24-27. The preparation for facing life's difficulties has to be made ahead of time.
I recall struggling with this issue once quite a number of years ago. A woman who had visited our church challenged me one day by saying, "I've done everything I needed to do. I've tithed, I've gone to church regularly, I love my neighbor, etc .... so why isn't God blessing me and giving me all that I need?" Just as an aside, if you listen to many of today's televangelists, this is exactly the message you will hear - "You do this and God will do that for you." Whoops! Although blessing is a biblical principle, trials and tribulations are also. Faith doesn't manipulate; it just is. Thinking that we can get something from God by doing something for Him is flawed. God cares for us because of His great love for us in the same way we care for our children because they are our children and we love them.
If I can say one thing about faith it would be this; your faith must be in a loving God, whether your day is sunny and filled with roses or strewn with the destruction left by a tornado. The fact is that we live in a fallen world filled with anger, hurt, pain and destruction. But God is able to take us beyond all of those things and give us joy, peace and hope in the midst of the trials and tribulations. That is what faith is! Faith believes that in spite of death, there is resurrection; in spite of pain, there is comfort; in spite of loss, there is restoration; in spite of hurt, there is healing; in spite of loss, there is gain; in spite of ashes, there is beauty; in spite of bad, there is good. The list could go on and on.
I can honestly say that because of our son's faith and our faith in a loving, giving, wise and powerful God, we experienced all of these things when John disappeared. And our faith was strengthened, not weakened. We were able to trust God in the midst of the storm and our house stood strong on the rock that is Jesus. But it's because our faith had been tried and tested through many other lesser trials first.
Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."