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    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Amid the Strife: There's been much written about the evil of nature and crises of faith in the wake of the tsunami. To many, it's natural disasters like this that make it impossible to accept that there is a God. It's the same with illness and disease. Many's the time I've sat with patients who have lost a spouse or a child, and who have lost their faith as a result. How could God be so unjust and uncaring? I've never felt it appropriate to answer their rhetorical questions of faith. I'm not very good at sharing my own religious beliefs, at least in person. Or maybe I've just never been able to forumulate an answer that doesn't seem trite. So, I never have an answer, just a shoulder to lean on.

    Speaking for myself, though, it's because this world is unjust that I believe in God and in the Redemption that is central to Christianity. The reality is that life as we know it is brutal. It's so brutal, that if it's the only reality then, well, life just isn't worth living. If it weren't for my faith, I'd quickly fall into overwhelming despondency in the face of my impotence against so many of the ills that aflict my patients. But, as imperfect as this world is, I believe we're on the road to a better world to come. An Eastern Orthodox theologian explained it best in last week's Opinion Journal:

    Perhaps no doctrine is more insufferably fabulous to non-Christians than the claim that we exist in the long melancholy aftermath of a primordial catastrophe, that this is a broken and wounded world, that cosmic time is the shadow of true time, and that the universe languishes in bondage to 'powers' and 'principalities'--spiritual and terrestrial--alien to God. In the Gospel of John, especially, the incarnate God enters a world at once his own and yet hostile to him--'He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not'--and his appearance within 'this cosmos' is both an act of judgment and a rescue of the beauties of creation from the torments of fallen nature.

    Whatever one makes of this story, it is no bland cosmic optimism. Yes, at the heart of the gospel is an ineradicable triumphalism, a conviction that the victory over evil and death has been won; but it is also a victory yet to come. As Paul says, all creation groans in anguished anticipation of the day when God's glory will transfigure all things. For now, we live amid a strife of darkness and light.

    And we do what we can to help the light shine brighter.

    posted by Sydney on 1/03/2005 08:04:00 AM 0 comments


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