09 February 2013

The Foolishness of Faith ~ Thoughts prompted by a debate ~

Tim often accuses me of liking to debate... Actually, he usually calls it arguing, but that's beside the point. 

Look at that face... This is one who clearly and truly LIKES to debate.
She'd argue with a fence post. Of course, my mom always said the exact same thing about me...
I never "did" debate in high school (He did). In fact, I avoided speech class unless absolutely necessary, and always opted for options that did not require me to stand and speak in front of others. While studying at Penn State, I took the required speech class that only necessitated one longer, more intensively researched presentation instead of choosing one requiring several smaller, easier-to-prepare speeches. It wasn't the preparation that I found difficult... 

In fact, I never even saw a debate until I was big and grown up and thought that I should actually watch a presidential debate to be more informed as a voter - at least at that time, the debate was a bit of a joke and more theatrical than informationally substantial.

This debate, however, intrigued me...

...because this is a question that comes up from time to time in my life.

Is it awful for a "missionary" to admit that?

What does it mean if I confess that I walk through seasons where I want to believe, I choose to believe, and I do believe that the grace to believe can only come from God. But I still have moments, days, seasons where I wonder if... I wonder if this life is all there is.

It's actually pretty scary, sometimes.

And a very uncomfortable place to be.

Watching a debate like this one can be downright terrifying. After all, what if the wrong side ends up being more convincing... more plausible... more whatever?

I finally have come to the point where I don't mind the wrestling. I know I've said it before - Jacob left limping, but blessed. I keep coming back to him because, for some reason, that story in the Bible speaks to my heart. I do identify with that particular biblical character... and he was, wasn't he? A character. In almost every sense of the word.


So I regularly examine this faith I've claimed as mine, making sure I still know and believe all those things I'm so willing to profess, verbally as well as in written formats.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31, ESV)
How about you? 
Do you ever have doubts? 

Do you ever wonder if this life is all there is ...
or if there really is something more - an eternity to anticipate?

If you do struggle with these sorts of thoughts, 
how do you address them when they come?

Do you believe it is sinful to doubt and to wrestle with the reality of faith?
Why or why not?

PS~ I've not yet finished watching the debate linked to in this post; 
it takes awhile with our internet here. 
But I'm planning to finish it this weekend!
If you take the time to watch, be sure to comment with your impressions!


  1. There are those who say that this is all there is... there is nothing more... you die, they cover you over with dirt, and don't even let you out for weekends.

    One such person asked me once, "What if you're wrong, and this really is all there is?" to which I answered, "Then they cover me up with dirt."

    Then I asked him, "But what if I'm right, and there really is a heaven and a hell?" About then, he 'suddenly' remembered somewhere else he had to be.

    If someone doesn't even believe that heaven exists, how can he ever hope to get there if he turns out to be wrong? That sounds rather
    frightening to me. I mean, it's convenient to
    believe that when you die, it's over, because you get to ignore that little thing called "eternal consequences." But then when you are faced with those consequences after you die, it's too late to change your mind.

    I find it very peaceful to believe that heaven exists, and to know that I have followed God's instructions for how to get there.

    1. yes, and some days that IS why i continue to choose belief and pray for continued grace and for God to give me a glimpse yet again.

      i do agree with your perspective about consequences - but you can also argue that it is convenient to believe in eternity because then it means there is something more than this life... something to look forward to and it allows us to evade dealing with the finality of death.

      but like i said, i do agree with you on most days and then on other days, i have to work to hold on to that agreement. :-)

    2. But if death were indeed finality, then there would be nothing to deal with, so I'm evading nothing. It is those who believe that death is the end who are evading something. They are evading - ignoring, actually - the prospect of facing God someday and answering for their actions here on Earth, and answering the most important question of all... "Why should I let you into heaven?"

      The most important question one can ask here on Earth is "What must I do to be saved?" But those who believe that death is the end never ask that question because they don't believe in anything they need to be saved FROM.

      Quite frankly, if I didn't believe that there was something MUCH better waiting for me on the other side, I would be very depressed indeed.

    3. adam, that sort of confidence is a gift and is completely God's grace.

      i also think having to work to hang on to faith and belief is a different gift, a different manifestation of God's grace - maybe because God understands people like me who recognize there's nothing they could do to earn God's favor, but benefit from the struggle of hanging on to it for all i'm worth...

      part of the reason i struggle with scientists who try and explain everything away scientifically and logically or theologians who try and explain everything away theologically and logically - is that somehow, everything makes sense to some man, some way. but to me, that takes the divinity out of God. yes, He wants to be known by us, but we'll still be sounding the depths billions of years from now, if all we say we believe is true. why do i insist i can figure it out on this side or that i won't have doubts and struggles?

      i look at it this way: ultimately, faith always involves a leap of trust where you can be pretty sure, but... and that's where God's grace lifts and carries the rest of the way. for some, that dark leap is a little bigger and darker than it is for others.

      and that is not just ok. it is good.

    4. I like your final statement - not just OK. It is good.

      In fact, it may be better.

      I agree - both you and I have been given different gifts, but both gifts nonetheless. Sometimes I wish I did have to work harder to believe, because it seems that it would be more rewarding. On the other hand, I'm glad it comes easily to me, because I don't know if I'd be strong enough to fight for it. In a way I envy you that strength. Sure, I have strength, but it's a different kind of strength.

      I think when someone experiences a test of his faith, it is hopefully also a strengthening of his faith. Nearly five years ago I had such an experience - one that I wouldn't wish on anyone, but one that I wouldn't trade for the world. My faith is so much stronger because of it. God needed to show me something, and that was how He chose to do it.

      I had always thought if I found myself on death's door, lying in a hospital bed, fighting for my life, that I would be terrified. But when that really happened, I was surprised to find that I felt no fear. Not once. There was the peace of God that really does pass all understanding.

      You don't fully get that verse until you need such peace. I imagine you need, and receive, such peace more often in a place like Niger than I do back here. I first felt that peace down in Haiti with Tim's Dad, when for a month I fell asleep every night listening to the Voo Doo drums in the hills no more than a mile from where we slept. Many people later told me I should have been afraid, but I could feel God all around me, so to me the drums were nothing but noise.


Stop in for a chat! I love to hear what you have to say ~


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