Sometimes when I really think about the things I believe I almost have to laugh. That there is a God who actually cares about this world. That God came to the earth as a poor Jew and then died on a cross, only to come back to life three days later. That there is a heaven where we who believe will go when we die. That there is forgiveness for our sins.
Not to mention that God thought of making zebras and hippos, and fingerprints all different, and strawberries and babies.
I almost have to laugh because I also can be plagued by doubt. And I know that many of us are. A friend was telling me that her teenage son recently told her that it is a bunch of idiots who thought of religion. He really sees no point in it at all.
Actually, the writer of Ecclesiastes agrees. When he got old, he looked around at all the stuff he had and how hard he had worked and he said, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What is the point really of anything is what he was asking, and I don’t think that question is all that different from the teenagers, or from questions I have a lot of the time.
Matthew says doubt is always part of faith. And I think many of us are always on the edge of doubt. When we see bad things happen in this world or when we watch a loved one suffer. Sometimes even when the mundane nature of belief takes over it is hard: I have to wake up early for church? I have to give away my hard earned money because it isn’t mine anyway?
But then you remember that there is this thing called the church that God wants us to be a part of—where it is ok to ask questions. Where when something bad does happen, we come together and carry each other through. That is why there are funerals and memorial services. Because when we are in pain and sorrow, the rituals of the church carry you. Others sing when you can’t. Other pray when you can’t find the words. When it seems like the darkness is so big there will never be light, the church says on your behalf the words of Isaiah: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. We believe for each other.
The teenager is right—the church has acted like a bunch of idiots on numerous occasions in the past, but we still carry on because we choose to believe that we are not alone in the world. That there is a God and this God knows our name. And that we need to remind each other that it is true again and again.
So lately I find myself saying something that isn’t very pious. I say: “[insert what you do to a light bulb] it! I choose to believe!”
I’m not going to go through life like I believe I’m alone. I’m not going to think that all is vanity and there is no point. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I believe. I believe that God made giraffes. I believe that God has a place for me in heaven. I believe that God is active and at work in the church and the world.
I choose to believe!