At age 23, I pretty much knew everything. At age 63, I believe a few things with certainty, but many other things have fallen into areas that I question. I don’t think this is a sign of weakness, a lack of faith or early dementia., at least I don’t want to believe that.
I have become wary of people who are sure about everything. I am wary of people (and politicians) who only see things along party lines. My guard goes up around people who are sure that God is on their side, whatever side that may be. To be honest, I don’t trust them. Life is not that simple. Life is complicated.
I came across this great quote by Paul Tillich, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”
I didn’t get that at first, then I started to understand. God is not threatened by our questions or diminished by our doubt. But our certainty, our smugness can keep us from approaching God. Why do we need God when we know everything, when we need no answers, when we are certain, when we rely on ourselves.
Commander Randy Bresnik, who is currently on board the International Space Station, took this photo of hurricane Irma from 250 miles above Earth. I look at this and I’m feeling pretty small. I don’t know what the next few days will hold but if the forecasts are true, they will be days that test our faith.
Bad things will happen, good people will suffer, I know this for certain. Why does this happen, why does God allow this … I am uncertain, I don’t know.
What do I know? I am certain for a while we will forget who is a Democrat or Republican, we will forget who is black or white, who is Christian, Hindu, Muslim or atheist. At least for a few moments, we will forget who has offended us on social media.
I know that selfless acts of heroism will be performed. I know that the willing will carry the weak through floodwaters. I know that our focus will be on families and loved-ones and not on the material. I know that those not directly affected will give generously to those who were.
I also know that after this crisis is over, we will return to bickering, we will have the luxury of pettiness once more. We will again see people as members of political parties, religions, races, factions and forget we are all children of God.
This I know.
God have mercy and never let me be certain.