So far I have discussed my approach to hasgachas pratis and revealed that I am of a semi-deterministic bent. I then followed up with the idea that bakashos in prayer should be focused on people requesting the faith to accept what is happening to them and to ask for greater understanding of their situation, not a grab bag of requests from the celestial catalogue.
As a result of those two essays I now come to the final part of the question: what is my approach to emunah in general?
The first source for emunah that I want to reference is that of Avraham Avinu, a"h, specifically Bereshis 15: "And he believed in the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness." Avraham Avinu, as we know, was promised a son and a great inheritance in Israel at a time when there was no physical evidence that any of it would come true. Sarah Imeinu, a"h, was infertile. They were both elderly. Yet Avraham Avinu never doubted God's promise.
The second source is from the 1st chapter of Pirkei Avos which we just read this past Shabbos. In it we are told not to serve God as servants seeking a reward but to serve Him as servants not seeking a reward and to have the fear of Heaven upon us.
There is also a third and final source I want to reference, also from Avos, which tells us that all people and things in the world have their "fifteen minutes of fame" as it were.
Combining these three sources with the previous two essays I believe I can provide a simple answer to what emunah should be. Emunah should be a simple concept because it has to serve as the foundation for all our beliefs, inclinations and interactions with the Creator and the universe He created. As a foundation it should be someone obvious and comprehensive that can be a common factor in all those things.
Emunah is accepting that God knows what He's doing.
As Chazal says, b'chol derachecha, da'ehu. In all your ways, know Him. That is the basic expression of emunah. Accept that you were created by God and that you therefore have infinite individual value. On the other hand, so was that slug you were watching crawl across your driveway this morning. At some point, it will also matter in some way in the grand scheme of things. Yet you are not the same as the slug. You are part of the pinnacle of creation, one of the self-aware that knows that God is the Creator and that you are fulfilling a purpose, not just mindlessly going through your day working towards that purpose. If you feel the need to speak to Him on a personal level, you know you have nothing greater to do that acknowledge His perfection, His need (as it were) for you to play your role in Creation and to request a greater understanding of that role but that overall you are part of His bigger picture. This is the example of Avraham Avinu who, even though he was offered something his understanding of the physical universe told him he'd never have, did not waver in his belief that he would eventually hold that something in his arms and give him a name. That is the standard we aim for. When we reach it we see that we are part of God's team (as it were) and therefore our service of Him isn't for brownie points but as part of a universal effort to bring history forward to its final conclusion, our redemption.
It seems simple but for each of us it's a challenge of a lifetime.