Friday, March 22

Mustache and Walking Stick

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
 
Psalm 13 

As is so often the case in the scripture, the 13th Psalm is an example of one of the faithful looking ahead confidently to deliverance even while in the midst of pain. Doubt is natural, and it's hard to avoid it. But I don't need to nurse it.

A literary hero of mine, the Rev. John Ames, the narrator of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, put it best when he said, "I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you would make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own, not, so to speak, the mustache and walking stick that happen to be the fashion of any particular moment."

Having faith means never being certain. Certainty leads to arrogance, and arrogance can lead to persecution of those who are certain of other truths. But neither is doubt a goal. It is something to be aware of, ever making sure that I'm not adopting someone else's doubts, but asking my own questions. 

I don't ask for answers, Lord. But help me to ask the right questions. Listen to me when I pray, and give me hope that you'll bring me through the bad times, with the help of the One who questioned you on the cross, and who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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