Words of Hope: God Exists
We have a quote on our fridge by one of the best poets in the world, Li Young Li, who says, “I don’t have faith that God exists, since I experience God enough to know that God exists, haunting both my inner and outer worlds.”
As Shann and I talk about faith, I am grateful that like Li Young Li I experienced God as young as I can remember and have never struggled with wondering if God exists. I have always found atheism to be much more a leap of faith than theism. The belief that all is chaos, fate, random chance is untenable to me. I bless Mom and Dad for this sacred understanding of the world. Dad as a strategist in sport and life always played the strategy to the conclusion. Atheism as a strategy leads to despair. We see this played out in history again and again from Hemingway to Carson McCullers, from Nietzsche, to Freud.
I am reading Tomas Halik again. He is a Czech priest whose faith survived the brutality of Communism. He has a gentleness toward those who are atheists and is sympathetic in their difficulty with faith. I appreciate this as I struggle with empathy toward people who do not see the world the same as I do. This lack of empathy is surely a barrier for community and compassion. My Christian view of God requires this empathy of me, even for a point of view I don’t agree with. My revulsion for atheism is not because I am rooted in Christ but because I like to be right and in this revulsion, I am closer to Nietzsche’s will to power than Christ’s love.
Halik says that his friends who are atheists lack patience. The greatest of all Christian virtues: faith, hope, and especially love requires patience. It is impatience that demands an answer to the question, “Where is God?” This question is often asked in suffering or in achievement. It seems to me that modern atheism has moved to declare there is no God due to man’s achievement more than anything else such as when the Russian cosmonaut, the first human to enter into the heavens, boldly declared he saw no God. Or when Emmanuel Carrere, one of France’s most beloved writers, declares the Bible to be a product of neurosis though his own life is a case study of the absence of true love and fidelity.
I have a few atheists in my life right now. I consider my impatience for them to believe like me a form of atheism. My impatience for others to believe like me is not a strategy that leads to a loving outcome. My dad on the other hand, had tremendous patience for his friends who were atheists or agnostics. One of my parents’ dear friends was an atheist throughout their friendship. They prayed for him for over 27 years. This man came to Christ in the middle of the night on a wrestling mat at camp in Wasilla, Alaska. Our staff had been singing and praying together after the campers were in bed. He had listened to us singing on his makeshift bed of wrestling mats and encountered faith, hope, and the greatest of all…Love.
Just like the atheist impatiently asks, “Where is God?” I can egoistically ask this about my friend’s eternal soul. I need faith to believe that God is able to move in their lives as much as I believe He is able to move in mine.
Tomas Halik writes, “Christianity offers a different vision, the vision of a merciful and loving God, whose ‘silence’ about our sins need not be interpreted as a sign of His nonexistence, but instead as an expression of His patience and readiness to forgive.”
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6