On Faith

I have chosen to believe that God is Good. And because of this, I know His heart is steadfast, and that it suffers with every human being that suffers, and that there is a gentleness within the whirlwind.

The same God who causes volcanoes and earthquakes and plague and flood, waits through the sleepless night with the mother of the feverish child, cradles the abandoned newborn, and is there with the delirious octogenarian on morphine, breathing the death rattle at the end. His tears are our tears. None of this will be meaningless.

And sometimes He seems cruel. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. But it will all make sense in another world, when all is finally as it should be, in that far green country, and the air will be clear there. So there is a reason for all of this, even if it doesn’t make any sense now.

Because even if nothing else makes sense, even if what I thought was good turns into evil, or heroes fall, or everything betrays itself, and everything goes into dizzying flux and motion, this is the one thing I know: God is good. His heart is gentle and steadfast, and He is with all humans in their suffering.

I can’t say why I know that. Yes, I’ve had moments of ecstasy where I felt it, saw it. They make about half a dozen, or maybe a dozen, counting my childhood. They all lasted about five to fifteen minutes each. I’m sure a neurologist could come up with the physical explanation for it. And of course, in between times, and after, there have been thousands of fifteen-minute periods, and longer, where I didn’t feel that at all, actually, felt the non-existence of God, a void, or the overwhelmingness of a greyness, like the smell of formaldehyde, or human greed/hatred/lust eclipsing human love. Suppose the fundamental principle of the universe is not good. Instead, raw power, or chaos. Suppose all of this human yearning and human spirit is nothing but an absurd joke in a materialist universe.

But suppose instead, that this darkness is all a state in flux, that will be overcome, that this current hegemony is trick of the dim light, a delusion, just a pack of nightmares that will dissolve with the night. And we will wake to breakfast, the fish frying over the fire, and the godhead will be there, as mundane and reassuring as our mother, “come, and have breakfast.

Logically, I suppose both are equally internally-consistent.

(1) that the universe is run by a malevolent fundamental principle OR material chaos …. and brief moments of religious ecstasy and love are mere accidents

(2) that we are born under a curse, in a corner of existence that is a battlefield, raging with an infection that corrupts are heart and our vision, causing things to not be as they really should be. Our little universe has been sin-infected, and our current consciousness in just a delirium, as the fever rages and battles our immune system in our bloodstream and our brain. And that it shall pass, and we will wake up to a Reality as it really is:

The fundamental principle of the universe is goodness, and a person too, our Father.

A father who has been there throughout the night of our fever, and he sat by our bedside through that long night, though we tossed and turned in our delirium and cried for him and did not realize he was there.

And that those scattered, fifteen minute religious experiences, and that every bit of human love and kindness and beauty we experience now, are like brief moments, when we see things as they really are.

I can’t prove it is the second, besides making the feeble argument that chaos could never create the breath-taking beauty and the dear preciousness I have seen in some human souls.

But I have chosen to believe it is the second one. My life might be a bitter disappointment, and everything I fear might happen, and I may turn out to be a slimeball, and all I trust be liars, but even if everything is crashing down, the one thing I’ll know is that God is Good. I choose to believe that, the underlying premise before everything else: God is good. I’m going to live my life on that assumption, I’m going to demand it, I’m going to hold on to it.

Because the Lord our God is Good

His mercy is forever sure

His truth at all times firmly stood

And shall from age to age endure.


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