Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doubt 101

It’s a beautiful late September evening, with the day’s warmth giving way to a fall evening’s chill, as I sit in front of the middle school, waiting for Open House to begin.  The sun touches the still-green trees, visible for miles around from where the school sits on top of this hill.  Crickets chirp.  An early parent walks by, talking Russian into his cell phone.  This slice of the world is calm and peaceful.

Now parents begin arriving in earnest.  The vice principal who saved my daughter from potential bullies two years ago arrives.  Happy, chatty moms arrive, gloating over their parking places.  I look like an oddball, sitting here jotting in my notebook.

I have so many thoughts, but no way to express them.  There are too many prayers I need to offer:  so much pain, loneliness, regret at the Old Folks’ Home; so much political bitterness, hopelessness, and fear; so much rage the world over.  And here I am in the face of a beautiful evening, doubting the power of God to intervene.  How can it be that God would be powerful enough to end my Mom and Dad’s suffering, but not compassionate enough to do it?  How can I pray to this God? 

Was God powerful enough to create tonight’s beauty, and to create the capacity in me to appreciate it?  Did God give me loyal friends who spend their compassion on me?  How can I not pray to this God?

It is time to go into the school.  I go to my daughter’s homeroom, which is the science teacher’s classroom.  On the wall he has posted a Mark Twain quote:  “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

And so I will tell the truth.  I doubt, I doubt, I doubt, but I cannot fully turn away from God.  There is too much beauty and love on this earth, and the earth does not belong to me.

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
Psalm 24


Anonymous said...

Oh honey, we all doubt.
And that's okay.

Cassi Renee said...

I think doubt is one of the most important things we do. People the world over see God in different ways, and for me, your thoughts regarding your parents are why I've never thought of God as an entity that pays attention to each and every human thought and action. How can you say that God is responsible for your friend recovering from a deadly illness, and then not blame that same God for allowing so many children to suffer unthinkable pain? Whether one believes in God or not, I think experiencing the hard parts of life makes us better, more compassionate, people. That doesn't make it any easier to experience those things.

Suburban Correspondent said...

My experience is that God doesn't prevent our suffering, but He suffers with us. It sounds like small comfort, but it really isn't.

Also, one of the most honest prayers you can pray is "WTF?"

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Agree fully with SC. God answers the honest prayer, and the most real prayer can be WTF.

Angie said...

Doubts are normal. The important counterbalance is what you expressed . . . trust.

The Crislers said...

I once read something by Philip Yancey that said, "Inquisitiveness and questioning are inevitable parts of the life of faith. Where there is certainty there is no room for faith." I think for the true, avid believer, doubt is inevitable. But I am sorry you're having a rough time.

andrea from raising peanut said...

Beautiful post. I love your honesty.