Jan 21, 2010

haiti, faith, and a whole lot of questions - pt 2

I am not sure that anyone can be argued into placing their faith in God.  It would seem that a lot of Christians invest their time into debating, and I've definitely spent my share doing so in the past.  While I've found that I could dismantle many arguments thrown my way, it often boiled down to if the person was willing to change what he/she believed about God... and in most cases the person wasn't willing.

All that energy... blocked by a shield of hard-heartedness. And yet most Christians pursue others as if they were trying to get them to purchase a movie ticket when they'd rather go bowling.  "Fine, you've convinced me," the believer hopes the unbeliever might say. "I'll choose Jesus. Does He come with a bucket of popcorn?" 

So I'm not expecting this series of thoughts on "Haiti, faith, and a whole lot of questions" to convert anyone.  Rather, you need to come to God because you realize that there is something quite beautiful and indescribably majestic about who He is... or perhaps the other way around, in that you recognize you are hypocritical and full of sin, in desperate need of a Savior who can free you from it all. 

For you to see any of that - truly, for you to even glimpse at that - you need to understand how much of your life is already "faith-based," for there are plenty of things you place your faith in each day that involve trust in something you don't fully understand.  You hop in a car in faith that the company who made it knows what they're doing; you turn on the water in faith that the water company got your payment and hasn't shut off your service; you make an appointment with a friend and have faith they will show up on time; you have children in faith that they will add to your life and you will add to theirs.  Recognizing these small examples can help you navigate what to do with the hurdles you have yet to reconcile.  Which gets into the first thought I'd like to explore in this issue of pain, destruction, God, and what it all means. 

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He answered “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength," adding that the second was to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Mark 12:30-31) Often when we attempt to go one-on-one with God we only use  1-3 of those approaches, inadvertently sacrificing a 4th in the process.  For instance, someone may have never really learned to love God with their mind because they grew up in a Christian home and have never felt the urge to question their faith... even though they should.  On the other hand, someone else may have come to God through some thorough Q&A through history and archeology, and yet their faith is so cerebral that they've never truly worshipped Jesus from the depths of their soul... even though they should.

This is important to recognize because there will be times when it's hard to "wrap our minds around" something like Haiti.  We may not ever be able to for that matter.  We are desperately trying to understand something we don't understand, and since we can't seem to do so we conclude that there isn't an adequate answer, hence, "God doesn't exist."  After all, if God is good He would certainly never allow bad things to happen, right?

There is a major flaw in this reasoning, for buried beneath the assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil is a hidden premise.  Specifically, the person claiming it believes, "If evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless."

Several years back I was on a road trip and helped some students set their tents up for the night.  Before I could set mine up it started raining, and so I ended up sleeping in a van for the night.  By morning I had a pinched nerve in my neck that ended up staying with me for almost six months.  Keep in mind, that's six months of pain... all the time.  A few weeks in I decided to see a chiropractor, and then in turn he suggested I see a doctor so I could take part in physical therapy.  All of this angered me for it seemed to be purely pointless pain... for while I had been doing a very good thing - "the Lord's work" - by taking these kids on the trip, there wasn't any need for me to experience what I did.  "What kind of God would let me suffer like that?"

And yet...

The chiropractor and I struck up a friendship, and eventually I ended up getting to know him and his girlfriend, which in turn led me to marry them and help that marriage get an amazing start.  And the doctor I saw for physical therapy?  Before he sent me off he ran some blood work on me... and noticed something that otherwise would have gone undetected, eventually becoming life-threatening.  I was able to put new habits in my life that helped reverse what had happened (versus something more severe and fatal).


So maybe the pain wasn't so pointless after all.  Though I would have really liked to have traded the active pain of those six months, I would not trade the insights I gained from it.

There are times that God doesn't make sense to the mind, which is where the soul comes into play... the mind sees the here-and-now, but the soul through faith sees a bigger picture.  Sort of like comparing watching a train as it passes car-by-car versus seeing the birds-eye view of the whole thing at once... we sit and wait at the flashing stop lights for the thing to be over, while the Creator sees and knows its context from above.

So... could it be possible that while God intended for this world to be without pain or disease, and we broke it, that He can use even our bent toward destruction to bring about healing?   Just because we can't see it just yet, does it mean there isn't a proactive reason we shouldn't consider?  One that can't been seen with the mind alone, but only when the mind works in tandem with the heart, the soul, and the strength of a person/community?  Or perhaps one that can't be seen at all on this side of heaven?

Again - we seem to care more about Haiti and its people after the earthquake than we did before the earthquake... for before the earthquake hit they were barely surviving as a people while we paid our $20 to see Avatar in 3-D with $12 worth of snacks on our lap.


I'll write more on that tomorrow.

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