Faces on Faith: The road less traveled
In his book, The Road Less Traveled, author, psychiatrist and spiritual mentor M. Scott Peck’s opening line is: “Life is difficult.”
A few millenniums earlier, Greek philosopher Plato advised students to -‘Be kind for every person you meet is fighting a difficult battle.”
For many children of Adam life and times are often good, some live lives they self-describe as ‘charmed’. In religious circles people frequently express thanksgivings to God for the blessings of life.
However, there is also indescribable suffering in the human condition and there are ‘rough patches’, times of challenge, sufferings of every dimension which come into people lives.
Saint or sinner, just or unjust no one escapes harsh life-denying experiences and seasons. No one is beyond the reach of troubles.
It has seemed to me that when such unwanted and unsought for times come into people’s lives a question often asked is: “Why is God doing this to me?
Rabbi Harold Kushner framed the question well in his book Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”
A precious Christian woman took my hand as we stood at her husband’s bed in a cardiac unit, where he was somewhere between heaven and earth, and remarked that she couldn’t believe what was happening to her sweetheart”After all pastor, we have been good people, why is God letting this happen?
Why that question? Why the assumption that God decides to afflict people? Why blame God for our troubles?
Personally, it is inconceivable to me to think of the Creator God and Source of all life as being a divinity who is arbitrarily blessing and cursing us.
The God I have come to know in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and tradition wills shalom, wholeness and well-being for all.
Experiences of pain, suffering and misery for individuals and communities are very much a part of the fabric of life. We witness children dying of starvation or curable diseases, the numberless victims of disaster, the life denying choices made by individuals for themselves or their victims, wars, famine, sickness of body, mind and spirit, broken relationships, financial melt downs, etc..
Yes indeed, life is difficult but not because of God!
God wills our well-being and wholeness not our suffering and brokenness. In the face of suffering, I believe we make it through the ‘valley of the shadow’ because God is with us, not against us.
I read this the other day on Facebook: “God doesn’t give us what we can handle; God helps us handle what we are given.”
The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah expressed the truth of God being present with us in difficult times in language our hearts cannot forget:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isa. 43:2)
I believe in God who helps us handle what life gives usthe good and the bad.
-Pastor George E. Morris, Captiva Chapel by The Sea.