July 8, 2021
Weekly Reflection – Faith in a Time of Crisis
During times of crisis and disruption, we often find ourselves in anguish and asking, “Why me?” We just don’t understand why God would allow such a calamity to take place in our lives. I can only imagine what the survivors and families of those crushed by the recent condominium collapse in Florida are going through. They must surely be exclaiming, “Why me?”
Disappointment With God
Philip Yancy wrote a book entitled Disappointment With God in which he shares a number of tragic occurrences and how individuals reacted to them. He addresses the role of faith in such struggles. I once listened to a video in which Yancy says he has come to a definition of faith that seems to work at the moment when the crisis is coming down on us (literally coming down in the case of the condominium collapse).
Yancy says that his definition of faith is “believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” We can’t understand why when we are in the midst of a crisis. But we believe that someday we will understand.
In Hebrews 11:1, the Bible has our textbook definition of faith, i.e., “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Yancy’s definition is close to Hebrews 11:1, but his version seems to me to come across a bit more powerfully when experienced within a crisis context.
What about faith during more normal times? NationsUnivesity’s Mission Statement speaks to developing an “authentic faith.” What does that mean? A recent Netflix movie tells the story of Mary Magdalene. It is certainly not a movie “by the book” but does present Jesus in a generally valid manner. In one scene, Jesus contrasts the rules-based faith of the Jews with his version of the kingdom of God. He says that we are to have a tenacious faith that drives us to love God and our neighbor and align every aspect of our lives with God.
When we pursue life in that way, we will discover an entrance to the kingdom of God. And I suppose that is “authentic faith.” We not only believe, but we are driven to act on that belief.
My father was an airplane pilot. I often got to go flying with him. One day he took me along, and at about 3,000 meters of altitude, he unexpectedly turned off the engine! In shock, I asked what he was doing. He replied that he was looking for a place to land in the unlikely event that the engine really did stop. Then he restarted the engine, and we went on our way. I think this is similar to how we are to live our lives of faith.
We may not be in a crisis today, but we can solidify our faith so that when the crisis does come (and it will come to each of us), we can confidently say, “I don’t understand, but I believe that someday I will understand.”
Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the Chaplain alone and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of any organization he may be associated with.
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