I have experienced and witnessed miracles. I have also seen the fruits of wisdom blossom and accomplish much. Yet, I have also seen their limits. I have found myself waiting for the miracle, waiting for the sign only for it to never come. I have seen wisdom be thrown off by the illogical and unpredictable proving it can only go so far. In the midst of this meaning was traded for meaninglessness. The seeds of emptiness were sown that could not be easily gone with a quick snap of the fingers or explained away with an engineer’s systematization. Still, I looked for a sign, I looked for some wisdom, some meaning. Though, as life went on, such things were harder and harder to find.
There are the stories and the experiences that we remember and take comfort in. These are the signs. They can increase our confidence in God but they can also work against our faith. They can all too easily form within us a standard and an expectation in regards to how he should or will act. He parted this sea here, therefore he will crumble the walls before me there. There is the discernible system to explain why things are the way they are best articulated in the famous statement, “Everything happens for a reason.” When tragedy strikes, when the unexplainable occurs, we always have a way out because we can explain it all away. To stay in the anxiety and the discomfort is to be reminded that we are not in control. Oddly, we seek out God in order to regain some modicum of control.
“God spoke to me.” “Come see what God is doing.” “God is on the move.”
I’ve been there, I’ve said similar things. Many seem to lay claim to God, yet contradictions abound. The abuser and the narcissist always seem to have God on their side. Like a cacophony of voices or what must be like the mind of a schizophrenic, there are no shortage of voices claiming God’s approval and blessing. All around me, God is here, God is there and yet he is seemingly nowhere.
There’s a fine line between atheism and faithfulness to Jesus of Nazareth. Faithfulness to Jesus often requires us to get rid of our crap, to get rid of those things that are seemingly good but end up being idols. Things like signs and miracles. Things like wisdom and reason. Such things are exhausted and revealed to be incredibly lacking on the hill of the Skull. There, no sign or miracle is given. No one swoops down from heaven in a chariot at the last minute to give the bad guys what they deserve. Strangely too, wisdom accomplishes its mission, for it was good that only one man should die rather than a whole nation. There we see all of the institutions that we are taught to trust in take off their masks and dispose of the things they supposedly uphold. The Church, the government, the right and the left hand, simply upholding the social order and sending another scapegoat on its way. Thus, our way of life continues on unabated; a way of life that we created in spite of God.
I’ll confess, I’m compelled to rush to the Resurrection, to make it all okay and to take away any anxiety or discomfort. But I’m not. The Cross of Jesus Christ gets to the heart of our problem. It cries out at us and begs us to grapple with such things, with tragedy, with the seeming meaningless of life itself where not everything makes sense. Where signs and miracles come, go or never show and where wisdom helps but shows itself to be lacking. The Cross calls us to let our trust in such things go, to see them for the idols that they often are and the Resurrection calls us to begin anew.