Part 2: Just How Far Faith Can Span

It turns out that none of us are really cut out for the human condition, because it’s true what Flannery O’Connor said about faith being what you know to be true, even when you can’t believe it, though statements like this make the postmodern theorists squirm.

None of us are made of the right stuff for crucifixions, for letting go of worries, for dental drills, or earthquakes or unjust wars or job interviews or having children or trusting that when we walk out our door, all will be well. But the good news of this, and it is there, is that Jesus, this God we say beckons us into hope and resurrection, wasn’t either. Jesus, who because of his courage and faith should have ended his life in the same way, was a great worrier, sweating blood and bullets in the garden, praying like nobody’s business that this cup would pass, his heart heavy and breaking because the Empire and his people were out for him. He was full of fear and anxiety and loneliness, all torn up by the upcoming Good Friday agenda and then that dreaded descent into hell. In the most human of ways, he began praying, “Thy will be done,” and also “Father, can we perhaps take a second look at this plan?” all at once. And then later in Matthew, at the big finish, the grand finale, right before he breathed his last, he cried out with the heaviest of sorrows, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And these, for us, are the most hopeful of words.

Because of Christ, because of God becoming flesh, we now know there is no corner, no inch, no place, nothing you can feel or dream or lose or hold, that has not been redeemed. There is no loss, no deathbed, no darkness, no doubt, no fear, no anxiety, no worry, no evil, not even nothingness itself where this grace hasn’t been, and isn’t calling all things into being. The lights of heaven, the darkness of hell, everything, has been drawn into this One, where the Father grieves, the Son loves, the Spirit carries. So when we are told by this One not to worry, we can believe it. Because of who he is and what he’s done and even what he’s gone through, his words are trustworthy and true. They are words of grace in the most profound sense, a declaration of the kingdom coming. Our word is not the final word. This God knows the deepest truth about what a human life can be, and what faith can span.

In him, nothing is lost, no bird, no grass, no lily, and certainly not us. In him, the invisible forces of heaven stir, all things are redeemed; all things that are now and then and also are forever.

Our faith tells us that it is true, even when we don’t believe it.