Three Little Words

When reduced to their testimonies, every religion is the same. I was messed up, I found my religion, I followed its teachings, I’m not messed up anymore. Testimonies are usually used to entice needy people to follow the teachings of the religion. They embrace and obey, some with success, some with none. We call up the success stories to lend more credence to our narrative, while we secretly hope the supposed failures will either get with the program or show themselves the door, preferably the back door.

Failure in our belief system threatens us. When we meet someone who is not “victorious” in our chosen religion, we feel the need to make excuses for our religion. It can’t be the fault of religion. It can’t be that our system does not work for everyone, it has to be the fault of someone else, namely the failure.

What if instead of insisting on success stories, we instead were honest that life just sucks and we really don’t have any answers? What if we instead loved people in the midst of their suffering instead of insisting they follow our religion to fix their problems? What if we instead acknowledged the truth and said “I don’t know?”

I don’t know why…

Your child died.
You lost your job.
Your spouse cheated on you.

But we don’t. We must have the answer. We can’t admit for one moment that our religion might not be THE answer.

And this is the real reason victims walk away.

There is no quick fix to real pain, there are only two courses you can take…cover it up in the shroud of religion, pretending everything is fine, or be real and admit the pain, admit there are no answers.

The former gives people an excuse to judge the hurting, the latter enables us to sit with the suffering in their pain, to bear each other’s burdens.

2 thoughts on “Three Little Words

  1. I agree, it’s much better to be honest about the fact that we don’t have all the answers and we don’t know why some things happen. It’s sad when people are put off because Christianity is presented as if it will fix all their problems when that’s not what Jesus ever promised.
    Personally I think Jesus is the answer as our only hope in the midst of these things, but he never said our lives would be without trouble.
    One of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever heard is from a friend, Barbara, who has been through unimaginable suffering. She was out with her husband and daughter when their car was hit by a drunk driver. Her daughter was killed and Barbara was almost killed. Even now, 40 years on, she lives with massive physical pain as a result of what happened. She was also sexually abused as a child, and she has an adult son with severe special needs who needs full time care. Her life is definitely not easy, yet in the midst of it all her faith shines through. She is so full of faith and even joy, and her testimony would be finding strength in Jesus even in her suffering.
    Sorry this got so long!
    Hope 2017 is good for you. Praying for peace and hope and ever-deeper knowledge of God’s love and presence with you.

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