I heard a sermon the other day that wrecked me. He started out by saying, “I wanted to speak really quickly about sadness.” He went on to explain the intense experience of sadness and its great presence in the life of eternal beings, as we spend so much of our life ultimately letting go. He discussed the use of sadness and grief and what it does to our souls, and yet how easy it is to let that turn to anger because at least in anger we feel like we have control. Of course anger is generally unproductive as an emotion and keeps us from true growth and true comfort and mostly it keeps us from the capacity to see God.
Well if you have read my previous blogs you might have gotten a small teeny tiny sense of anger weaved within them. I didn’t want to delete them out because they’re part of the process, but it’s there for me to look back on and see with clarity what becomes of me in sadness. I couldn’t pray really, I couldn’t be gracious with people who wanted to me to find peace in God like they do, I couldn’t really sustain what I thought I learned all this year. I thought I became a person of faith, and maybe I did to a certain degree, but it’s not until the real pressure comes that we see the depth of the faith we maintain. I don’t regret the wrestle with God because I think that is often necessary for true belief, but I did see my faith for what it was and can do nothing but decide to respond differently now.
In difficult seasons of life I find that a world ruled by chance seems easier for me to believe. Without divine involvement the cruelty of life can land on no one except itself. And yet there are a lot of other reasons I believe, things that make sense of the world and this life, things that bring hope to a wretched place, and those things are still true in pain although maybe a little less clear. I still want to live my life in light of belief, and although God may not feel like a real source of comfort at this point, I’m doing my best to choose faith. Hopefully that choice will ultimately seep into my soul and bring me peace, but for now it’s just a choice.
I learned a lot this year about how we cannot educate ourselves into faith, we can only participate our way into it. Here I am in a different place and yet still learning the same thing. I will never understand how pain exists in a world ruled by a good God, except for what I learn from C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain. No one will sufficiently answer it for us and yet what may seem irrational to some is the only way forward for others - the will power to stand in faith even when nothing makes sense. At some point it's simply a choice. The decision to maintain belief is just that, a decision. My soul aches and I still hate when people try to comfort me with “God’s great plan” but whatever his involvement I’m trying my best to believe he is good. And I supposed I’ll just remind my soul of what is true, until over time it becomes an accessible part of me again.