Monday, September 12, 2011

We All Need To Be With Him

How do people live without God?  I am not surprised that sick people, living in misery in a world that says there is no God—that there is nothing but this life—are tempted by euthanasia or suicide.  Why go on dragging yourself around like an old dried up piece of meat in a world that has no meaning beyond physical vitality?  What amazes me is that people who do not know God, living in a world that constantly proclaims that there is no God (or, at least, no God worth bothering about), have the energy and desire to go on living.  I think the only way to account for this is the fact that there is a God who cares personally for everyone—even those who do not yet know Him or who think that they have rejected Him.

God plants the seeds of hope in every human heart.  If there were nothing but this life, then despair would be the logical human position even for the healthiest of people.  Why is it, then, that the human person has to be driven to despair, as if it were against nature?  Why do people endure so much unimaginable misery, and keep going?  They do not “feel” like there is any reason to carry on, and yet they do.  We have a sense that there is more, Something more, than what we feel—even when what we feel is terrible.  I do not think that billions of dollars are spent on health care just because people want to extend their miserable little lives a bit more before they are ground into nothingness by an implacable material universe.  People have a tenacious sense—even if they are unconscious of it—that there is a path and that they are on it, that they are going somewhere and that they have to keep going forward.

What does this mean to me, a Christian, burdened by circumstances, but also blessed with the gifts of faith, hope and charity?  I feel sick.  That is not insignificant.  It is a part of my path—a path that I walk with Jesus.  Does that make me feel better?  Sometimes.  But that is not the point.  If “walking with Jesus” were nothing more than a pious sentiment designed to make me feel better (temporarily), it would not be worth much.  The point is this: “walking with Jesus” is the truth; it is what constitutes the reality of my life.  I do not always feel the truth of this.  I believe it.  And as I walk with Him—as I live inside of this relationship with Him—He strengthens my certainty; He builds up my life.  He manifests through abundant signs that He is with me on my path.  If I stay with Him, He will sustain me.  This is what it means to live as a Christian.  It means that I belong to Christ.

And because I am a Christian, something stirs in me and moves me to want to be a light to those who are stumbling along toward that which they do not know.  I want to cry out, “Keep going!  Keep looking, asking, groping.  Cry out for help....You have a heart that whispers Truth, Goodness, Beauty.  You’re angry and frustrated because you can’t see any truth, or goodness, or beauty.  But your heart is not lying.  Listen to it.  It is a promise: you will not be cheated.  So don’t give up.”  No matter how I may feel, I know that this is true.

How can I be so sure?  How can I be sure that you will not be cheated if you really listen to your heart and cry out for help and keep seeking?  Because Jesus is real, and He loves you—He is right in front of you on the path, even if the fog prevents you from seeing Him.  He created your heart.  He put the desire for truth, goodness, beauty, justice, love, and dignity within your heart.  He is Truth, Goodness, Beauty; He is the Reality that every genuine impetus of your heart seeks.  He is seeking you, and He wants you to let yourself be found.

Jesus is not a drug that helps me dull my pain.  Nor is He just my particular “philosophy of life” or my “support community”—something that “works for me” but might not necessarily “work for you.”  He is for me, because I am a human being.  That means He is for you.  I am sure of this.

But how?  Who do I think I am anyway?  What makes me so sure that my ideas about the meaning of life are true for everyone?  That is just the point: these are not “my ideas”—this is a relationship.  He is here, in my life, in a relationship with me.  In fact, He started it—not me.  I could never give myself this certainty, not even with all the philosophy of all the ages.  What else could sustain this certainty in a blockhead like me?  I am amazed at myself, at the fact that I am so certain about this....What make me certain?  It is Jesus Himself—not just some vague ideals about “goodness” or “the importance of Christian ethics” or even “my understanding about the value of suffering.”  It is Jesus, the objective, actual, true Son of God, the living man who is with us now.  I need to be with Him.  We all need to be with Him.

From  my book Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy (