Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Faith; The Dark Soul

It is said of Mother Theresa that, "... she placed her faith in Christ rather than placing her faith in her faith."

Romans 8:28, " ... and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

One of the premises of this verse is that of the consolatory action of a benevolent God, who loves unconditionally and in spite of the painful experiences of life will ensure the wholesome goodness of His edict. The 'good' is always to be achieved.

There is an attempt at reconciling life's traumas, helplessness and insignificance by creating a faith that protects, comforts, insulates, and anesthetizes. Faith is reduced to a narcotic, an escape from reality, nay I say, a denial of reality. It is not to say that there is no courage, no resolve, it is to say that the world is painted with the broad strokes of an illusory reduction of Christian or religious experience as 'webs of solace spun by the fears of believers' catching us in a net of 'higher purpose' for which there is an ultimate reward and reality.

"Life in this world serves a higher purpose...Everything that happens in this world is an expression of the intentions of an intelligence superior to us, which in the end, though its ways and byways are difficult to follow, orders everything for the best that is, to make it enjoyable for us. Over each one of us there watches a benevolent Providence which is only seemingly stern and which will not suffer us to become a plaything of the overmighty and pitiless forces of nature. Death itself is not extinction, is not a return to inorganic lifelessness, but the beginning of a new kind of existence which lies on the path of development to something higher...In the end all good is rewarded and all evil punished, if not actually in this form of life then in the later existences that begin after death. In this way all the terrors, the sufferings and the hardships of life are destined to be obliterated."

This is pain-numbing faith. This is faith without reality of lament. This is blind faith. This is the faith that is hard to acknowledge and defend. Faith is equated with the experience of conviction, freedom from doubt, assurance, and a happy fulfilling relationship with God. Faith should be all of these things. However, does there not exist faith filled with doubt, distress, antagonism and anger? Is there not in those things an experience of faith as well? Must faith be only the absence of these things? Faith is assurance. Faith is peace. Faith is present when assurance and comfort in God exist. Can we claim that unfaith or disbelief exists when there is doubt or distress?

I contend that faith and fear, belief and doubt, comfort and trauma, peace and anxiety can exist together without compromising the spirituality of a person. Faith can produce peace or distress. Faith doesn't imply comfort. Faith exists but it is not functioning as a means of repression or illusion. Consolation is at work in religious faith, while not denying the embracing of a 'darkness', the soul in distress is not acting on unbelief, but is in actuality claiming a 'bold faith'. We have to allow that a faith with doubt and distress is not a rare, odd, deviant, diseased or immature experience, nor should our judgment imply that complaint, distress and doubt are maladaptive to a Christian life.

Psalm 88
O LORD, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. ... for my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves. You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out; My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. LORD, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. They came around me all day long like water; they engulfed me altogether. Loved one and friend You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness.

Job 5:18 "For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole."

Job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

This is not a conclusion, just part of a thought ongoing and undefined.

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