Originally created 03/14/03

Nothing is beyond faith



"Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has ..." - Martin Luther

It was totally unreasonable to expect Elizabeth Smart to show up alive.

Only blind faith said otherwise.

And it was right.

It might have been reasonable to keep hoping for weeks, even several months. After all, experts do say that despite our fears and our frequent overreactions, most children abducted even by strangers are reunited with their families, often quickly. Only a few cases end up in tragedy.

After nine months, it was reasonable to conclude this case would be one of them.

Yet, the 15-year-old Salt Lake City girl's father, Ed Smart, never gave up hope and, in fact, told someone only days ago that he believed Elizabeth was alive.

It was beyond reason to think so.

But nothing is beyond faith.

This story, which captivated a nation for months and provided a rare burst of happy news this week, is about many things. It's about the unfortunate dangers of helping strangers - Elizabeth's mother had befriended suspect Brian David Mitchell in November 2001 when he asked her for money on a downtown Salt Lake City street. It's about child abduction - and whether Congress has been negligent in approving the early-warning "Amber Alert" system. It's about motivated, observant citizens, such as those who saw Mitchell on "America's Most Wanted." It's about whether police focus too much on one suspect - in this case on another handyman with a criminal record who died in custody on a parole violation. It's about the psychology of abduction - and whether it's even fair to ask if a 14- or 15-year-old child could have the fortitude to break away.

Mostly, though, this case is about faith, and how it can triumph. Most of us had given up hoping for Elizabeth Smart's safe return. But her family held on.

It's not just a matter of blind faith, or of somehow denying reality. As we know now, the Smarts weren't denying reality; reality is, she was alive all this time.

Rather, the Smarts and their friends and their many supporters in private life and in law enforcement - and, yes, the national media - put that faith to work. They rolled up their sleeves and, some more than others, worked their tails off to check under every rock.

This case shows the raw power of applied faith - the kind of faith that is mixed with sweat and tears.

Not every situation can turn out like this. We can't always get what we want, not even what we want desperately.

But we see again how important it is that we never give up.