Hard To Believe
When I was young, I believed God would give you what you wanted if you prayed hard enough for something.
I thought this because my mom once told me that because I'd been a jerk at the grocery store, I would get a spanking when I got home. So I stood next to a display of Heinz' Pork-N-Beans and prayed fervently that I would be spared. My mom thought it was cute and let me off the hook.
The next time I tried prayer to avoid punishment, I began praying for a reprieve with the kind of confidence that had been bolstered by experience. But it didn't work that time. Or any other time after that.
As I grew older, I decided that when it comes to most things in life, simple belief doesn't always cut it because the rug will always get pulled out from under you as soon as you start to believe it never will be.
I'm willing to wager that more than a few folks are reading this and thinking about their struggles with belief. Maybe what I'm writing here resonates with you more deeply because of those struggles.
You might have given up believing your addicted loved one will one day be sober.
You may have stopped believing your child will ever forgive you for what you've said and done to hurt them.
Or you've stopped believing that you can ever be reconciled with a spouse or a partner who betrayed you or who you betrayed.
Someone may be reading this right now who has given up believing that they could ever be made whole, that they are enough, that what they have done or has been done to them could ever be restored.
Maybe you've given up believing that the world can be better.
Or that the divisions in our country can be healed.
That peace is possible.
That God cares.
I came across this quote from Yann Martel's acclaimed book Life of Pi some time ago, but I reread it the other day, and it spoke to me:
If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe; ask any love. Life is hard to believe; ask any scientist. God is hard to believe; ask any believer. What is your problem with hard-to-believe?
Sometimes our beliefs need to be changed and transformed, and it often takes a challenge to even begin that process.
But when it comes to our belief in the eternal, restorative, life-giving elements of life, maybe we need to be reminded that the things that matter are hard to believe in for a good reason.
They are hard to believe because they are challenging to hold on to. Nothing that matters is if we're being honest with ourselves.
Jesus himself declared that the eternal things in life are found by traveling the narrow, barely used paths, but most of us prefer to take the wide, easy, crowded roads because we can be more easily assured of the outcomes.
May you be encouraged by your challenges to believe today. May you find the courage to travel the less-traveled road of uncertainty. May you be changed, transformed, refined, and made new.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.