If Faith Made Sense, It Wouldn’t Be Faith

To me, if something is true, it has to make sense.  I have to be able to understand it.  It has to be clearly explainable, so much so that I can also explain it clearly to others.  When I get frustrated at work, my coworkers joke that one day I’m just going to quit, walk out the door, and scream, “It just doesn’t make sense!”  For me, wanting things to make sense is not just a simple desire, it feels like a deep-seeded need at the core of my being.

I fight with God about this “need” for things to make sense.  A lot.  Basically every turbulence in my mind and heart comes down to this issue.  There’s a lot about the world and our lives that doesn’t make sense.  There’s a lot about Him that doesn’t make sense… to me, anyway.

I want to be able to open my Bible and know without a doubt what each passage is meant to communicate. At the very least, I want the comfort of knowing that people who have spent their lives studying it can arrive at interpretations consistent with one another.  I want the apologists and historians to be able to give iron-clad defenses of Christianity’s claims.  I want to reach some plateau of peace and understanding that will guide me in every aspect of my life, the kind of serenity that would make me want to tell others about it.

But… that’s not faith.  Faith is not about having all-encompassing answers to every question.  It’s not about knowing exactly what to do or having everything explained to you.  One dictionary defines faith as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”  Faith is not knowing; in some ways, faith is unknowing.  Faith is something you cannot prove.  And this drives me crazy.

Still, as I’ve contemplated grace recently (Complete and Utter Grace), a thought came to me that connected the two concepts (grace and our unknowing).  If everything made sense, if it was possible to know exactly what to do, if it were possible to completely explain who God is and why we are here… then there would be no need for grace.  Suddenly I recognized the loving aspect of that reality in a way I hadn’t considered before.  Of course God knew we weren’t going to get it all right, and he has more than provided for us with his grace.

Does that solve my “problem?”  No.  I will always struggle with wanting to be able to know and understand it all, with demanding a complete explanation for every eventuality.  That’s where the choice comes in, the choice to believe anyway, the choice to hope anyway.  Unknowing is bound up in hope, too–if you knew for sure what was coming, you wouldn’t hope for it.  But that’s another topic for another time.

I’ll leave you with two Nichole Nordeman songs that have helped put words to this struggle for me.  The first recognizes the reality that sometimes questions only lead to a thousand more unanswered questions.  All the same, the song invites us to ask, instead of, “what if it isn’t true?” considering, “what if it is?”  The second describes an acceptance of our unknowing.  Paired with that acceptance is a hope that someday everything will fall into place, and we will be complete in all ways, including our understanding.  Sometimes, we’re just waiting for someday.

What if you pick apart the logic and begin to poke the holes?  What if the crown of thorns is no more than folklore than must be told and retold?  But what if you’re wrong?  What if there’s more?  What if there’s hope you’ve never dreamed of hoping for?

More than ever I’m ready to say that I will still sleep peacefully with answers out of reach for me.  Until someday all that’s crazy, all that’s unexplained, will fall into place.  And someday all that’s hazy through a clouded glass will be clear at last.  And sometimes we’re just waiting for someday.

Related Posts: Freedom from Devotions, The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins (book review)The Dangerous Lie That We Tell

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