Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lord I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Usually, Doubting Thomas doesn't cross my mind until Lent. I have always adored him. Who doesn't love Thomas? With his finger probing Jesus' wound and his doubts, so human. We love him like we love the kid in sex education who is brave enough to ask the questions that are on all our minds. We all doubt. We all have reason to doubt now and again. When something happens and doesn't go our way, when a prayer seems woefully unanswered, or when a tragedy befalls us.

Let's face it, we all have dark periods of doubt. As Buechner puts it, "Doubts are the ants in the pants of Faith." Without doubting and questioning, our faith is blind. We move dumbly, in rote dogma, toward a God who promises good things, but are not in active discussion with that God. We don't ask the hard questions if we don't doubt. And now is the time for hard questions.

Why our community? Why TWENTY babies? TWENTY innocent children and SEVEN adults? What can we do to rectify our faith and this event?

The first question is "Why does God allow such horror?"

Then, "Is there even a God, if such horror exists?"

And lastly, "And, without a God, how will we ever recover?"

Our instincts are to try and regain control. We try and focus on the heroes and heroines of the story. We attempt to twist our belief system to fit such a monstrous happening. And when it doesn't fit, we are left with a big question, do we doubt the existence of a loving God in the face of such evil and hate?

There are not reasons for what happened on Friday the 14th in Newtown, CT. There is no lovely, Chicken Soup for the Soul answer that will box it all up and put a pretty ribbon on it. There was a horrible event. Sure there were good people peppered throughout said horrible event, but it was horrific. It stinks to the core.

So, what did we do? As a nation, we took it all in. Obsessive for details and more information. We wanted to know WHY? HOW? and awfully, WHAT HAPPENED? Now we know what happened in a timelined sort of 9:40 this happened and at 10:10, this. But, we are interested in the motives, the drivers, the psychology and pathology of the occurence. Maybe, I think we think, if I can just wrap my head around why and how it happened, I can guard against it in the future? Maybe, I can regain some of the lost control I am feeling now that my world is topsy turvy?

I have fallen prey to all this humaness. I have taken to my bed and hid. I have obsessed over every detail. I have even become despondent thinking about the Mayan prediction stating that NEXT FRIDAY (not this one) is to be the end of the world as we know it....maybe they were off by one Friday? After all, it was thousands of years ago?

I have become a feather in the wind. No longer am I rooted and purposeful. No. I am floating and spinning and unpredictable. And then, I remember my faith. I remember that my faith is not there to provide answers and spell out science. Faith's world is the unknown and the unexpected. Faith shines light where there is darkness.When you are in a deep abyss, faith throws you a line and a flashlight. It doesn't. unfortunately, come down into the abyss and spirit you out. It requests that you meet it halfway. Here are the tools to save yourself. Now, go ahead and save yourself.

How? Give it over to God. Let God take the reins. Let God be in charge. Pray, hunker down and be thankful and grateful. Don't fall prey to the attemps to control it all yourself....blame, contention, anger, tenacious beliefs are all ways of trying to believe that we still are in control. Maybe, if we can campaign for gun control reform, or fight for safety in our schools, we can get an insured certainty that this WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. Not gonna happen.

This is the world. It's a human world. There are humans in it who will do both noble and abhorrent things. When noble things happen, you will stride into church and be proud. You will thank God for his righteousness and for the helping hands he has extended. When abhorrent things happen, you will cower. You will wonder where God is? You will doubt. You are human. It is to be expected. Faith is not a guarantee of a life without adversity. It's the promise that no matter what God is there with us. God is laughing with us when we are overjoyed.
He is dancing with us in ebullience when we receive great news.
And, when bad things happen, he is sobbing, like we are sobbing. God is not able to stop the bad from happening just as we are not able to, but when it comes, He is still by our side. Holding us. Stroking us. Continually there trying to breathe faith back into our deflated bodies.

He has the benefit of being outside of time and of knowing Heaven and we do not, but we are wrong in thinking He needed these kids with him or he took them to live in Heaven. He may have known what would happen on Friday morning, but it did not make Him any happier than it made us when it did. In fact, I think God is groaning with the weight of the entire world's suffering. His hands are open to allow us to pass as much or as little of it that we are willing to relenquish over to Him. For some, less close to the situation, we will be able to do that soon. For others, it may take years.. Much time will need to pass before the wounds stop being raw and open, before the anger dissipates. I pray for that day. I want it now. But I know I cannot control that any more than I can stop the bad things from happening.

I am left with no choice but to, however cliched, Let Go and Let God. Help my unbelief.

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