Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Faith Among the Shambles

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In arguing with Job, their understandable concern is that in the depths of this man’s despair his thoughts seem to be irreverently taken up with the collapse of God’s good favor towards him, rather than with the collapse of his own faith. The supreme irony of this judgment is that really it is they who, by clinging to their theology of successful living or else, show themselves to be lacking faith in God, while Job, by honestly and passionately facing the shambles that his life has become, proves that in the pit of his heart he trusts his Lord.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 82

Job’s Depression

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

It is important to realize that nowhere in this book are we given reason to believe that Job’s depression, in and of itself, is ever viewed by the Lord as being his own “fault.” On the contrary, in view of the clear mandate for unlimited harassment (short of death) given to Satan in the Prologue, we are constrained to see Job’s psychic trauma as part and parcel with his other trials, just one more of the Devil’s assaults upon his faith. In fact the message that begins to unfold in Chapter 3 is that depression in a believer, far from being unforgivable, is one of the things that the Lord is most ready and eager to forgive. It may even be something that does not call for forgiveness at all, and far from being a sign of loss of faith it may actually demonstrate the presence of the sort of genuine and deeply searching faith that God always honors.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 59-60

Easter Is the Answer

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A graduate student wrote to ask if my Christianity affects my novels, and I replied that it is the other way around. My writing affects my Christianity. In a way one might say that my stories keep converting me back to Christianity, from which I am constantly tempted to stray because the circle of blessing seems frayed and close to breaking, and my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times when I feel that he has withdrawn from me, and I have often given him cause; but Easter is always the answer to My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season, p. 99, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

Loving God

Friday, September 9th, 2016

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” If we are angry at God because of something that happened to us or because of something going on in the world, and we are reluctant to admit our anger either because it seems disrespectful or because we fear that God will punish us for being angry at Him, we won’t be able to “love God with all our heart.” We can only love him halfheartedly. The wife who is afraid to tell her husband how bothered she is by some of his habits, for fear that he will be upset with her and perhaps even leave her, will not be able to love him wholeheartedly, and that inability will affect their relationship. The adolescent who is scolded for being angry at his parents “after all we’ve done for you,” or whose hopes and dreams are mocked by his parents, will learn to keep his feelings to himself. That will be an impediment to his being able to love his parents as wholeheartedly as he would like to.

Accepting anger, ours and that of people close to us, has to be part of any honest relationship. If the opposite of faith is not doubt but despair, then the opposite of authentic love, wholehearted love, is not anger but pretense, censoring our feelings. I don’t believe God is fooled by that, nor do I believe that is what He wants from us. God will accept our anger, justified or not, so that we can then go on to love Him “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our might.”

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 129-130.

Wouldn’t Trade It

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My dear readers — what do you do with the fact that hundreds of thousands of the dearest and most valiant saints would tell you that even though they have passed through terrible affliction, their most precious and fervent prayers unanswered, they would not trade it for anything in the world? They would not trade it because of what they have learned of God, learned of love, learned of hope.

John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 223

We Need Faith.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

To me, faith in God is a lot like marriage, which is faith in another person. It means a rock-solid commitment to giving God the benefit of the doubt, not because God needs it (I’m pretty sure God could get along without us if He had to) but because we need it. I choose to believe in the reality of God not because logic demands it or because the arguments for it are persuasive, but because the things I do take on an additional dimension when I do. Joys become more significant and disappointments more bearable when I do.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 121.

Questions

Friday, August 5th, 2016

I believe it is not only permissible but a religious obligation to question the existence of God if you are troubled by some of the things you were taught, to question the divine origin of things that are said in God’s name, and then to go on and search for answers to your questions. The only religiously unacceptable response is to reject religion entirely and close your mind to further speculation. I cannot believe that God would bless us with a critical intelligence, with the ability to extend the frontiers of knowledge and understanding when it comes to biology and psychology, and then say to us, “Stop, go no further” when it comes to theology. For me, the alternative to faith is not doubt but despair, the conclusion that we are alone in a cold and unreliable world.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 120-121.

Not Yet

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

God’s gift to Abraham was the promise that his descendants would teach the world what it means to live in the presence of God. Abraham’s reciprocal gift to God was that he believed Him. In spite of everything that argued to the contrary three thousand years ago, Abraham gave God the benefit of the doubt. That is what I take that crucial verse in Genesis to mean. He believed that what should be, but was not, one day would be. And because Abraham’s lineal and spiritual descendants took up his implicit theology of “not yet,” much of that vision has come about, and everywhere I look, people are striving to bring the rest of it into reality. This world is still not the world God intended it to be. Some human beings have made it worse and continue to do so, while others have made and are making it better. I am sustained by the words of Martin Luther King Jr., quoting Theodore Parker, an abolitionist who died in 1860: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” And it bends toward honesty and toward forgiveness and toward generosity. The heirs of Abraham, whether they identify themselves as Jews, Christians, or Muslims, honor Abraham’s memory by sharing his faith that the world we live in is not yet what God meant it to be, and by working to bring about the day when what should be, will be.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 168-169.

Bringing People Together

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Belief exists inside a person. As such, it has the power and the tendency to separate a person from his neighbors who believe differently. But authentic religion connects people rather than separates them into the elect and the misguided, the saved and those who walk in darkness. The primary function of religion, as Durkheim discovered and taught and as every congregational clergyman of any denomination has discovered for himself or herself, is to bring people together rather than to separate them, thereby increasing their joy and diluting their sorrows. For that to happen, one’s theology has to escape from the prison of the self and translate into sacred deeds shared with others, deeds sanctified by having the fingerprints of God all over them.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 117.

We Need Each Other.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I’m not exactly sure how all this works, but I think, ultimately, it means I can’t be a Christian on my own. Like it or not, following Jesus is a group activity, something we’re supposed to do together. We might not always do it within the walls of church or even in an organized religion, but if we are to go about making disciples, confessing our sins, breaking bread, paying attention, and preaching the Word, we’re going to need one another. We’re going to need each other’s help.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 255