Friday, June 29, 2012

Desperate Faith

Is there any other kind?

I'm thinking about those two stories we will hear on Sunday, the one about the little girl and her desperate father, and the one about the woman who is desperate enough to go out in public (she should not be out in public) and actually reach out and try to touch Jesus.

On the one hand, I can imagine the desperate father wondering what Jesus is doing, stopping on the way to come and heal his daughter.  Doesn't he know that this is a matter of life and death?

On the other hand, we know a little bit about the woman's backstory, how she has been suffering from this flow of blood for twelve years, and how she has spent all of her money going to doctors who didn't help her (but took her money, anyway).  If we know a little more, we know that her particular illness makes her unclean, and she should not even be out in public.  Can you imagine twelve years of isolation?  If I were her, I'd be desperate too.

She's breaking the rules, but what choice does she have?  She has no options, no other choices.  She is at the end of her rope.  Jesus is her last chance.

I think that all faith is desperation, in a way.  It's faith when you are willing to break the rules, or suspend your skepticism, or put aside your pride, because you just have to.  It's that important.  It's a matter of life and death, somehow.

When I was seventeen, I went through a period of pretty intense doubt.  This wasn't a personal crisis based on things that were happening in my family or in my life, but it was important to me.  I was reading and learning about the way the world really was, about evil and pain and suffering, and it just was hard to believe that God was in the world somewhere, because it was so screwed up.  How could there be a God? I thought it was a good idea to learn more about Jesus, so I read some of the historical Jesus books in the library, but I didn't understand everything in them (for example, what did that work "eschatological"  mean?)  The books made me more skeptical.

But for some reason, I was desperate to believe.  As much as I doubted God, I had this weird feeling that the world needed a savior (and that's exactly the way I thought about it, then.  Not that "I personally" needed a savior, but that the world needed a savior, because we had not gotten it right yet, and we were not going to get it right.  We were going to go right on killing each other.)

The same thing that caused my doubt, also fueled my desire to believe.

So, I reached out.  In some weird way, it was desperate faith.

"Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."

Is there any other kind?

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