Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Fragile Truth

What we're really saying when we say that we don't want to learn anything else about God, that we don't want to know more or read our Bible or study or learn or pray or worship, is that we believe the truth about God to be a fragile truth, as though it would shatter if we put too much pressure on it. 

That sounds like such a horrible statement to make, and many "in" the church would shake their heads at this and maybe even say something to condemn you, but like most things, it's far more complicated than that. 

It's usually not the case that we think the truth of the goodness of God specifically is fragile; what is more likely is that we've come to a place in our lives where all good things are fragile. Where good things don't last and darkness settles in and the other shoe always drops and we just can't handle one more devastation in our lives.

When this is the case, it makes perfect sense that we don't want to push the God issue too hard. We cannot bear it if the Creator of All Things lets us down. We cannot bear if this goodness, too, comes crashing in on itself. We cannot bear to lose the hope that we have in the promise of the goodness of God, and so we don't press our luck. We don't try to take it any further than this, don't try to let it get any deeper down into our hearts because we know so intimately how so many things have let us down, how so many things have devastated us. 

What we don't want is for God to devastate us, too. So it's easier for most of us to accept the notion that there is a goodness out there, that there is a promise, that there is a hope...than to press too deeply into it and risk being disappointed. 

It's that thing we were talking about yesterday, right? It's that idea that we're afraid that we will learn everything there is to know about God and somehow not be satisfied. 

Which yes, can mean that we find God lacking in some area that we think super-important (unlikely to happen, but we still fear it), but it can also mean that knowing God more and more intimately doesn't solve our earthly problems. It doesn't take away our fleshly struggle. It doesn't answer our existential ache. It can mean that we still have questions and trials and things that we don't understand, even when we understand God what we think is so well. 

It's hard for us to hold in tension the goodness of God and the brokenness of this life. Even those of us who learn everything that we can about God have this struggle. Even those who have spent their entire lives invested in Him have this burden. Ask a 90-year-old believer who has been to church every Sunday of her life what she does with the heaviness of a broken world, and she'll probably just shrug and tell you she knows God is good and that's enough. 

That's not enough for everyone. That's not enough for most of us when the weight of this life is bearing down on us. Sorry, but that's the truth. The truth is that it's not. The truth is that our human issues get in the way so much of us holding onto what we know about God, and that doesn't make us bad and it doesn't make us poor Christians; it makes us human beings, wrestling with God like so many have done before us. It gives us a limp, like Jacob, but it doesn't shatter our faith. At least, it shouldn't. 

But, of course, it does. Because we've had pounded into us this false belief that doubt is faithlessness. That questions are the same as failure. That not believing everything about God in every single moment and every single breath is some kind of unforgiveable sin. 

The truth is more complicated than that. The truth is that for almost all of us, the Gospel is - to some degree - a fragile truth. And not because we don't believe in the goodness of God or because we don't want to, but because it's hard for us, in a broken world, to believe so fully in the goodness of anything. 

In a life full of so much darkness, a darkness that always seems to be lurking around every corner, how in the world are we supposed to believe in the light?

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