Your brain or the Bible
This morning I found myself contemplating how to make sense of 2020. All of the COVID-19 issues, uncertainty about the future of my career and our economy, the unavoidable political turmoil have all made this a year of uncertainty and anxiety. On the night of December 22, I talked to my next-door neighbors like I do most nights. The wife was her usual self, full of laughs. A year ago, she married my fishing partner next door who had always let me tag along when he took his bass boat out on the lake. She made him happy which made up for the fact that she had taken my spot on that bass boat. Eight hours after I said goodnight to my friends, the husband discovered his wife had died in her sleep. Her funeral last night was the second one I attended this week.
Over the last two weeks, I checked in on several friends like I do every year during the holidays. This year I had conversations with people who either hinted around or came right out and told me they had contemplated suicide in 2020. It is both a blessing and a curse that I have so many people open up to me in times of trouble. I feel honored when people come to me for counsel but carrying other people’s burdens and hurting when they hurt is not something I can turn off. When I know someone is suffering, I feel their pain and want to help. This year the helpful words of wisdom have been elusive. The pastor at last night’s funeral shared some wisdom that I know will help me help others in the future.
Pastor Perry Crisp has a gift for explaining biblical concepts in a way that anybody can understand which he says is an effort to preach “peace and perspective in a world of chaos and confusion.” Last night my man was on point. He explained that it is human nature to want answers when confusing events like unexpected deaths occur. Answers, Crisp says, are sometimes just not part of the deal. He said we can wrestle all we want with the perplexing things that don’t make sense, but we may never get any answers. Ultimately, the confusing things present believers with only two options-putting our trust in our brain or the Bible. As he spoke those words, I thought about Proverbs 3:5 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” I also thought about the biblical definition of “faith.” Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I cannot see any reason my friend should die, but I have faith in a God that doesn’t need my approval to do what He does, including calling people to Him on his timeline rather than mine.
I cannot wrap my head around why my friend who was honoring God in her marriage and her life, had to die at a young age two days before Christmas. I can, however, choose to lean not on my own understanding. For years I thought “Let go and Let God” was a cheesy cliché that implies Christians do not really have to do anything in this life. Last night Pastor Crisp helped me gain a new perspective. Letting go is not an act of laziness. It is an act of faith in which we give up our need to make sense of everything.
Followers of Christ have obligations during our time on this earth. Part of our duty is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We do that by studying that book that tells us to not waste energy trying to understand everything, to trust that God is at work in everything (Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20) whether we can see it or not. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That tells me that choosing to trust the words of the Bible is choosing to trust the One who died on the cross for me. It is, as my friend Pastor Crisp says, the only option that has never been wrong, the only thing that brings peace amidst chaos and confusion.