Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hollow of the Hands of God

Our hearts long for happiness, and are drawn by the goodness and beauty of reality.  Is the promise of happiness that reality holds out to us a lie?  Have we been betrayed by existence?  No.  This is the great temptation: to despair by the cynical conclusion that there is no fulfillment to the longing and the hope of the human heart; to be convinced that the universe is a trick, and that the heart must be suffocated—or, at least, distracted until it is finally swallowed up by death and ceases to torment us.

Christians, with their faith and hope for a fuller life “to come,” may be tempted to go through the motions of resignation, fulfill their “religious duties,” and nourish a secret bitterness that they have been cheated out of any possibility of finding meaning in the longing of the human heart.  They can only pass time and reconcile themselves to mediocrity and misery in a world where God is absent, and look vaguely toward a “future” life.  While such an attitude is better than despair, if this is as far as we go in enduring suffering, our relationship with God will remain narrow and constrained.

Of course, God is so good and merciful; He works with whatever feeble adherence we offer Him.  He knows how hard it is to suffer.  But He has created us to love.  Our hearts are made for God.  We can only grow in this life by recognizing Him and loving Him more.  Do I feel like I cannot love Him more?  Do I want Him to draw away, at least a little, and give me back some of my space?  Of course I feel that way, but I must pray and beg Him to teach me to love Him more, because His presence and His love are what is real in my life.

When we endure suffering, we are called to do so not with a merely stoic resignation, but with abandonment to His loving presence that is really with us and in us.  And so we endure in the conviction that God offers us His love—the only fulfillment of the human heart—here and now, in the midst of our sufferings and the plodding of our daily lives.

We are called to put our hearts on the line, to allow ourselves to be wounded by the hope that even in this darkness it is possible to love and to be loved, because He is with us and He loves us now.  And we know that love—in the end—is always worth the risk.  The abyss is the hollow of the hands of God.

--From my book Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy (link: http://t.co/ddwYeqX)