The most difficult part about faith, particularly when you recognize that god is the source of all things in creation, is that what we define as “bad” also has the potential to be from god, as well. Of course, in the Abrahamic faiths, we have the embodiments of evil to blame for difficulties.
But even so, that surrenders the notion that god, if god is omnipotent and omniscient, how can evil have an equal control in this existence? Some of us, painfully, believe that corporeal and material prosperity is the reward of faith, the profession of faith or the tenacity of human endeavor. While that may be comforting, it neglects and does damage to the dignity of those who suffer in life.
One loses a job, one’s hours are cut, one is abandoned in a time of great need, one is hurt by another, one is murdered, one is raped, one is diagnosed with a fatal disease. The temptation to judge abounds: clearly they lived badly, they brought it on themselves or it is a punishment. But again, it comes down to our, limited human perspective on things.
It is always our lot to want and have a desire to control things. It is the human method of coping with the apparent randomness of life. We structure our lives around systems of belief but when we fail to understand their true meaning, we consider them ineffective, delusional or harmful. Then, we structure our lives around the force of our own human will, thinking that if we simply do what is right and proper, we will know prosperity. And that, too, ultimately fails us if our expectations do not match the reality of life. So where then do we turn to seek understanding, comfort or simple peace in the chaos?
The answer, when one has faith, is to one another. God’s immensity is such that we cannot fathom that god permeates through us, within us and around us.
When my own trials became too much, I leaned on others who were there for me. Those people shone with god’s love and care in ways my mind couldn’t comprehend. But what guided me was the surrender to god’s will, even when I had no clue where I was going, others were there for me. It calls to mind one of the most important thoughts on faith by Thomas Merton.
And so, when I was restored after the chaos of loss and loneliness, the resolve I understood I had to make was to continuously allow god to be present in my life by being there for others. One doesn’t necessarily understand this as a strength but with time, patience and experience, we see that once we let god act in our lives, we can’t be anything but strengthened.
Here now is the second portion of my faith, which is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.
Faith is never easy. When god is the source of all things, even the things we deem to be trying or unfair, it feels as though we’re on our own. And, in a sense, we may be, it’s been close around two millennia since god talked directly to any human (or so our books tell us) and more than a century or two since god revealed anything that was ever widely accepted.
But it’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us. Faith isn’t just a well that sustains us, it’s a cycle of reality into which we give, just as much as we receive.