The real reason why I didn't write a real blog post last week wasn't because of college (even though it did start back up for me a few weeks ago).
It was because I was going through another dark night of the soul.
It started with the usual intellectual questions that would lead anyone to an existentialist crisis. "How can we know for sure that God exists?" "Why is God so silent?" "Can a person be compassionate without religion? And if so, what use is religion, anyway?" After re-reading Peter Rollins and Kierkegaard, I regained some sense of faith. It wasn't much, but if Jesus said only a mustard seed of faith is enough, then I guess my little scrap of faith was good enough as well.
And then on Friday, we got the call nobody wants to get.
One of my coworkers called us at the library to say that her two-year-old daughter had to be rushed to John Hopkins in Baltimore for emergency surgery. Out of respect for the family, I won't go into the details. But I will say this: it's bad! Every time we think she's getting better, things only get worse.
It's moments like these when doubt becomes more than just fodder for armchair philosophy. This is REAL FUCKING LIFE!
How can I comfort my coworker and friend when I don't even know why this is happening to her daughter? How can I sing "It is Well with My Soul" when I don't feel like it is? How can I say "God is good" with my lips while my heart says, "Or is He?"
Maybe this is one of those Job moments where there just is no answer in the end. It's all just an ambiguous ending where God reminds us that God created the natural world, and that's it. In my more spiritually confident days, I'd gladly accept this ambiguity. But in times like these, I honestly feel like it's just a cop-out.
I recently read a book by Peter Rollins called How (Not) to Speak of God. One passage in particular comes to mind:
Instead the believer ought to acknowledge and even celebrate this dark night of the soul, understanding that this is not a threatening darkness which conceals an enemy but rather is the intimate darkness within which we embrace our faith. For when we can say that we will follow God regardless of the uncertainty involved in such a decision, then real faith is born--for love acts not whenever a certain set of criteria has been met, but rather because it is in the nature of love to act. (p. 34)
I hope he's right.