You slowly traverse the last two steps leading to your door, insert the key into the lock and then pause for a pregnant moment. You stare intently at the handle thinking of the hardships the past year has presented feeling that familiar tightness in your throat. Distant sounds beyond the weathered door do little to spur you to action. Instead, your arm refuses the brain’s instructions to raise and grasp the doorknob. Rather, your mind leads you to the tenth of April when Cassey was diagnosed with an unknown ailment, whose treatment is not covered by any insurance. William and Elizabeth continue to struggle with crippling migraines as doctors proffer genetics as the causation while your spouse refuses to work or otherwise join you in supporting the family.
The burden has been overwhelming for too many years and the weight of it has crushed you beyond your ability to recognize even yourself. Today…today was the last straw in an ever-increasing load that has persisted for over four decades.
Tears gain momentum as they start a familiar journey down your cheek. Hard work, diligence, playing by the rules, honesty, dedication and perseverance afforded to a mega mart company for nearly a decade meant nothing. Sitting there across from colleagues as they uttered those reprehensible words… ”I am sorry, but we just cannot use your style of management in our reorganization endeavor” sickened you to the core. The rest of the rhetoric was mumbles and chirps of which all nonsense is made. Loyalty meant nothing in an age where money means everything. The journey home was a blur but now, standing here, staring at this handle knowing there are no solutions beyond it, no help mates, no comfort, no relief, no offer to reduce the burdens made an insurmountable task of turning the key in the lock. A guarded glance back toward the ever-present beater car in the driveway allowed the briefest entertainment of flight.
Furiously, you squeeze the last searing tears from your eyes allowing your spirit to throw your anguish and helplessness at your Creator’s feet. Scripture bites, which you have heard a million times before, bombard your soul and each tasting more acidic than the one before.
“God will not give you more than you can handle without his help.” “If God is for me then who could stand against me?” “Through Christ, who strengthens me, all things are possible.”
But the one that is bouncing off the inside of your skull like a wrecking ball and one that you know you will hear a million times over in the next week and beyond is the one that is the hardest and most ambiguous to hold onto,
Your soul is screaming in protest that you have had faith through it all and yet weariness is the natural result of engagement in a constant state of spiritual war. Now, you love your God and Savior and have followed him through the darkest of times in your life and strolled contently beside him during those rare episodes of peace; therefore, the concept of having faith is not foreign or obscure to you. However, you also understand that most speak from a store house of empty notions basted in a heavy sauce of conflicted misunderstandings. Most well-meaning folks have no idea what they are talking about when giving advice in general but are especially daft in the realm of faith, God, and the notion of core beliefs. Ignorant haplessness is usually the motivator demanding the ‘comforter’ just, “say something.” The comforter is not trying to be mean, vague, or trite but their words can fall like water bouncing off Teflon or burn like acid to your core. The best comforter, by far, is the one who remains silent while offering a soft shoulder and gentle hug.
Some pain transcends speech to the degree that each utterance is a glowing hot spike driven into the soul of the listener. Whether you are a Christian or non-Christian matters little when you are trying to offer reason to the madness destroying friends and family. If the life and times of Job taught us nothing else, it clearly magnified the foolhardy practice of offering an interpretation of God’s will or meaning in the life of fellow believers. Our finite brains cannot hope to perceive the complex web of happenings, choices, and events that had to transpire to bring your friend or family member to this very point in time. Millions of micro moments and thousands of macro events occurred since Adam and Eve procreated that had to happen in order for the person sitting beside you to be there. There was no mistake, that person is sitting there with their heart breaking because all of these elements came together to make it so. Nevertheless, that fact does not mean that the pain was supposed to accompany him or her on that journey. No, pain is of sin and that was borne of the fall where everything in creation was simultaneously broken even down do the atoms that make everything move.
As I have said countless times before, most human pain is born directly of poor choices we ourselves make and then we have trouble dealing with the natural consequences thereof. However, there is a realm of pain that is borne through no direct fault of the person currently experiencing it and that type of pain emanates from two sources alone, 1. You are victim of another’s sinful choices or you are 2. Victim of a broken creation (caused by original sin). Yes, we now live under the redemption of Jesus Christ but he will not redeem all of creation until he returns and that is a day we Christian’s look forward too while knowing it is to be a horror-filled apocalypse for the unsaved. This single tidbit of knowledge, alone, should be enough to spur us to action. We should be heartbroken for every soul lost especially if we are not even trying to lead others to the salvation we languish within.
So where does faith fit in and how are we supposed to pull it off when the world/Satan is doing its best to crush us? From the moment of conception, we are using faith in the flawed form of humanity. Humans, without exception, will always fail us and we ourselves, without exception, will fail others. Hence, having faith is hard mostly because our first tentative faith steps have nothing to do with our creator but with the adults in our lives. Those adults, even the best intentioned and most devoted to our well-being, are going to teach us that having faith in another means disappointment and pain. The phrase, “have faith” is bantered about as if its originator is receiving royalties at its mere whispered utterance. Worse, in modernity it has no common core or goal. What exactly are we all supposed to have faith in these days? Certainly, we learn quickly that putting absolute faith in a friend and/or family member will lead to disastrous consequences. If our parents join in on societal norms and foster the myths of Santa Clause, Easter bunny, tooth fairy, and other fairy tales then our children learn we are liars, whose words are not always trustworthy regardless of the well-intentioned motives. I am not offering judgement on this issue as I grew up with all these fictitious beings as well and they serve as some of the best warm fuzzy memories of my childhood; however, there is a cost and that is trust. Some adults rip faith and trust straight out of the core of another with cruelty and selfishness caring little for the remnant they leave behind.
Society offers a whole new quagmire of experiences that will teach you that trusting in another and having faith in anyone besides yourself is akin to dancing among flames whilst doused in gasoline. Having faith in someone or something is a concept we learn to be very dangerous to our survival. So, how on earth can we look at this group of individuals who claim to trust in Christ and who wear their faith in their God like battle armor seriously? Are they not just delusional people consumed by their own naivete? Are they not just crackpots using this ambiguous idea of faith as an excuse to cop-out of life’s real issues? Isn’t it just their way to give excuse for all the darkness around them without a responsibility to act or be accountable?
A mere glimpse of this world and the people who occupy it would give vision to the blind that it is a wicked, cruel, self-serving creation that is headed towards destroying itself. Care to strongly reinforce this ideology? Become a historian who actively pursues God’s will for her life and you will quickly discover a deadly pattern of human behavior cannot be missed. Regardless of the efforts of modern “scholars” to spin it anew or the deliberate manipulation of events by armchair historians or politicians, the written history is a complex entity that should never be mistaken for pure truth or honesty. History does not repeat itself but humanity never, ever learns from its mistakes. If you are an American, then you may find comfort in knowing that nothing that our nation is experiencing today is different than that which has been experienced by human civilizations prior to our existence. On the other hand, it has only taken a little over 200 years for our nation to fall into complete and devastating debauchery. It’s kind of a record of distinction. Granted, it is a distinction of what should be shame but a great percentage of people in this country do not know what that means any longer. As scripture tells us, “they have forgotten how to blush.” Worse news, the current status we find ourselves occupying leads to one thing, collapse. Not ‘maybe’, not ‘only if we don’t do this or do that’ but it ALWAYS leads to utter and complete ruin of the nation. Look it up for yourself…I strongly encourage you to do this.
Having faith in one another is a game of Russian Roulette in which any adult has learned to distrust and be cynical even if the game was brief. Surely, there are individuals that can be trusted and are worthy of placing some degree of faith upon? Absolutely, but blind faith in any human is going to set you up for failure because none of us are capable of doing, saying, thinking, or feeling the right (motivated by pure intentions) one hundred percent of the time. We will fail, others will fail, all will fail because it is impossible for us to be perfect. Nevertheless, trust and faith can be had among our fellow humans. Just keep it in the realm of possibility and perspective. Breathing and living the sound realization that all humans are trying at different levels to be a positive or negative force in this world will aid you in making better choices with whom you will throw your support. Be certain you understand who you are following because you will be held into account for where you place your allegiance in this world. Whether you believe in a judgment day or not matters little once you get there but your steps are guided by your choice today.
Where does that leave us, the believer or the searcher, should we chalk up this faith and trust thing as something only practiced by naïve ninnies or is it more? Having faith is the hardest thing to live in this life because those who truly understand what it means and to whom they are placing all of their faith walk a path fraught with danger, cruelty, cynicism, condemnation and ridicule.
“If the world hates you, remember it hated me first. If the world mistreats you, remember they mistreated me first.” In Christ’s own foreshadowing words.
Why then do we expect our walk in faith to be anything but turbulent? The stronger in our walk/faith/beliefs we grow the more vicious Satan will attack. Having faith in God, is not weakness. On the contrary, it is the hardest thing you will ever do in this lifetime because it takes everything you have and more. Additionally, we are not suddenly bestowed great faith and trust in our savior upon receiving Christ as our savior. Nope, that is borne of hardship and suffering. When is the last time you met a wealthy, healthy, self-important person to be one possessing strong faith in anyone but him or herself? If you have it all here, then why on earth would you ever need to trust a Savior? What good will believing in God do for you in this lifetime? Ah, but there is the rub, isn’t it? God is not needed in your life now but you are only a whisper, a being like a summer shadow who is here upon this earth for a very brief moment and then…what? What is next? Do you just cease to exist? Well that is a great copout, isn’t it? If you are not going to be held accountable for anything you do here on this earth or toward your fellow humans, then what restrains you from blowing your neighbor away because he or she plays the music too loud after midnight? What basis of right and wrong, if any, are you working under? Is there anything, any choice you make or do not make in life that matters at all?
Lifetime achievement awards are meaningless in this worldview because all you have achieved is useless. Anybody you have helped was a waste of your time because his or her life does not matter. Your life doesn’t matter, their lives do not matter and the need for law and order is baseless. Go ahead and kill millions of babies to cover up your irresponsibility because their souls do not matter. Who cares if you live a life of pain and misery or one of luxury and indulgence? What does it matter if you are abused and betrayed? My right is right in my eyes so if I think torturing and killing you is humorous then why cannot I do it? If you have something I want, then what is wrong with me taking it from you? If I do not think you are worthy of your breath, then why can’t I take it from you? If we all go out like lights upon death, then why try at all? There is no purpose to anything, good or bad. Absolutely no meaning to what we pathetic humans endeavor to do each and every day except to play the overdone part of our ancestors over and again like a really bad B movie. That is what is happening today. Even among complacent Christians who use the copout, “It is what it is so why fight it?” Um, that is totally secular thinking people! As long as we have breath in our bodies, then each and every moment we spend on Earth should be used to fight Satan. We are never called to lay down our arms of faith to allow Satan to take over another vast area God has created you to protect. However, God does not expect any of us, who call upon him, to fight alone. Many are sent to join us upon our path so that they can gird us and we them in the strength and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Some will stay and become our strongest allies but others will bail when the battles become too costly. Basically, we will encounter each type of “believer” in Christ out there who Jesus clearly describes to his disciples. We must seek out those who have been planted in the rich soil because their faith is strong and deeply rooted. It has been well weathered through perseverance and hardships. We too, must self-check to make absolutely certain the soil in which we are lingering is still rich and fertile otherwise our use in the kingdom is greatly diminished. We can still claim the salvation of Christ and have dead faith. If we do not fulfill the purpose for which we are specifically created, then we will have to stand before the father one day and explain why we decided not to.
In summation, faith in Christ our Savior is neither a vain pursuit nor a naïve placebo. On the sharp contrary, it is an active, living, breathing demand to action, perseverance, endurance, and fruition. Faith is a strong verb or it is a dead noun. What exactly is faith in your life and what, if anything, should you be doing about it? Whether Christ returns tomorrow or whether he waits for a million years from now, your task remains the same because we are all called to have active, vibrant faith that is nothing less than the very reflection of Christ. Anything short of that goal means you still need to work on it, just as I must constantly work and strive to mirror Christ’s attributes. Knowing I will fail…repeatedly, does little to dissuade me from the task. Faith is for the brave. Faith is for the strong. Faith is a life calling that carries us into eternity. What do you have faith in and where is that faith taking you? I am certain where I am going and I know exactly who is taking me there!