Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Questioning Hope

"If you would be a real seeker of truth, it is necessary at least once in your life to doubt all things."
~René Descartes

As was true in my visit to Africa last year, I am finding myself challenged in my theology. I look around the room and see hundreds of faithful believers confident in the biblical message of a God that loves and desires peace and salvation. Here, God is truth and the only light and way towards a brighter tomorrow. But, being overwhelmed by the ongoing issues that are raised and the violence and grief that ravages this continent, I can't help but hold doubt of that concept.

But, when I attempt to break free from a particular theology or ideology, I am still left with the irrefutable passion for social responsibility. Whether on a path lead by the scriptures or with a secular heart that desires global transformation for greater responsibility, one cannot escape the resulting awareness of brokenness in the world and of individuals around us. Holding these realities alongside my own grief is proving to be very difficult for me today. I can't avoid the temptation to compare and contrast, to feel guilty in my grief because it is so small in comparison to the horrors that many cultures - especially African cultures - experience every day.

To commit yourself to social responsibility is to open yourself up to the weight of the world. In seeking out justice, truth, and peace one becomes immediately aware of the ubiquitous injustices, lies, and violence that plague this planet. The choice becomes continuing on out of hope and faith, or giving up and returning to our isolated lives which are "just fine". In moments of weakness, for whatever the cause, it is so tempting to surrender to that isolation. I've thought of this recently in my own struggles, feeling sometimes like it was so much easier to live the lie. But, once truth has been revealed and your eyes have been opened to these things, I've learned its impossible to reverse the impact and squeeze back into the mindset of before. The realities of this world and my impact will always be in the forefront of my mind.

And so, even in my weakness, I have to choose hope and faith over isolation and remorse. It's the only mechanism by which I can move forward and continue to strive for something greater. I find myself at a crossroads, a particular decision point in which my choices have been reduced to faith or freeze. And, I simply can't freeze. I've come too far and endured too much.

So, as I look around at those who appear strong-hearted in their faith, I can't help but wonder if perhaps it is the same decision-point that carries their momentum. I can't help but wonder, in their own personal times of weakness when they are overcome by the grief they face, if they sometimes question the presence of God in the midst of it. We're all human, so I suspect the question lingers for all of us. But, I also suspect that it is that question which drives the answers.

I actually believe this is what it means to be a seeker of truth...to constantly hold these questions in careful balance and accepting the confirmations -- and the fallacies -- we face along the way.

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