Thursday, December 9, 2010

The audacity of Faith

Jack Welch, the former corporate chief at General Electric, grew up as a devoted Irish-Catholic. Early on, he was an altar boy, and later, as an adult, his religion was so important to him that he was known to travel more than an hour to attend mass. However, his commitment to faith changed 34 years ago when his mother died of a heart attack. In his book, Jack: Straight from the Gut, he writes, "I felt cheated, angry, and mad at God for taking my mother away." He claims still to believe in God, but says he lost his heart for religion and no longer attends church. Pg. 38

There are days when I feel sorry for God. I know this is a silly thing to say, but I feel that people in their grief and deep loss make a huge mistake blaming God when things fall apart.

Our disappointment with God stems from the expectation that God exists to save us from every pain, sickness, relationship problem, and death; that God exists to grant personal happiness. C. S. Lewis seems to echo this sentiment in The Problem of Pain, where he says in part, we want not so much a Father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven, whose plan for the universe was such that it might be said at the end of each day, a good time was had by all.

There are no simple solutions. We live in a beautiful yet evil world. Joy and pain flow as one river through our lives. Babies are born and then die. Planes crash instead of fly. People contract diseases and never receive a cure. Life is not fair.

One way to deal with the seeming unfairness of life is to sink deeply into the promises of God. For example: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). This verse is a great anchor for a storm tossed soul. These present troubles are momentary; they will one day give way to the glory of God and the coming reign of God.

Don’t blame God. We are not home yet. He does not promise us heaven on earth. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He promises us life beyond this life. Instead of taking leave of God like Welch, cling to him for strength, and hope.This is the message of Advent: Christ has come, Christ is coming again.