Recently, I was speaking with a physician in a difficult specialty, and he said that it was typically his religious patients who would rather not put things off. "It is usually the people of faith," he said, "that would rather just know."
It struck me as an interesting statement. Most patients in his office would probably rather have no news than bad news, his work being what it is. Most patients would probably even be content to not know at all, but just to guess and to play around and to see if things can get better for them without having to say any so dreaded words.
But the people of faith want to know. Sooner, rather than later.
There's a certain tension for us people of faith around this idea of knowing. On one hand, we know what we know - we know that God is good, that God loves us, that God both created and redeemed the world. We know that the Word of God has been given to us so that we might know Him better. But there's this nagging little voice that always whispers, You don't really know. And it reminds us of all the things we can simply never know.
That is the mystery of God. I'm not at all saying that God is unknowable; His Word promises otherwise. But we plainly confess that we see as through a glass, but darkly.
And the unbelieving world calls us on it. They mock us for claiming to know something we could never prove (and thus, in the world's eyes, never really know). They chastise us for our arrogance about our knowing anything at all. They tell us it's all wishes and hopes and dreams, and these things are but the vapors of knowing. They aren't real knowledge at all.
Yet we build our lives around this knowing and unknowing, this knowing what we cannot possibly know and knowing that we cannot know it. That's what faith is. It's believing beyond what we can see.
Then we hear something like this from someone like this doctor - and this is something I've observed in my own ministry and heard from others, as well - and it just brings this tension to the surface all over again. People of faith are a people confident in their unknowing, but they are the ones most determined to know.
Maybe it goes back to what I was saying last week about seeking being finding. Maybe our mere willingness to ask the questions is, in itself, our answer. I don't know.
Maybe it's a lot of things. Maybe it's that we have nothing to fear. Maybe it's that we have everything to gain. Maybe it's because we know that our God answers our prayers, and we just want to know for sure what to pray for. Maybe it's because we believe in the sanctity of life and our responsibility to care for it, even our own, at all costs. Maybe it's because we believe in healing, but we cannot be healed unless we know we are sick.
Maybe it's because we embrace the opportunity to know something we never knew before. Maybe it's because we know that in knowing something new, we will likely discover something new about the unknowable. Maybe we understand that when our lens shifts, we see something in the heartbeat of God that we never could have understood before.
Maybe we're actually quite restless in our knowing unknowing and we're just desperate to know something for sure, for real.
Maybe we're just a people who believe we can only find the answers if we're willing to ask the questions.
This world talks a lot about how little we people of faith know. It laughs at us. It mocks us. It belittles us for our faith. But if this doctor is right, we are the people least afraid of knowing. We are the ones least intimidated by the answers. We are the ones least willing to stake our lives on what we do not know.
So perhaps we know something after all.