Faith Hurts!

I’ve been reading the mystic poems of Gertrud von Le Fort, Hymns To The Church. Why? Just because they are so beautiful, so exquisitely worded. One poem begins with this line: “I have fallen on the Law of your Faith as on a naked sword. Its sharpness went through my understanding, straight through the light of my reason.” This is how it is with faith! We can be merrily going about our life when suddenly we prick our soul “on a naked sword” of faith. We believe, but don’t always give our mind permission to roam over our beliefs. We’re too busy – and really most of us are very busy just with the business of life – but how healthy to pause and run our spiritual fingers over the sharp edge our faith. No need to draw blood, but just to feel the reality of what we believe. Do we need an example? Well, one example would be the pain of a passing doubt. Has it ever happened to you to realize that you have a question, maybe a big faith-shattering question about God? Things have grayed over. What always was taken for true has suddenly become hazy. Suddenly you feel a little foolish about believing there is a God. You are nervous about trying to communicate through prayer with a being who might not be real. It is painful to have such doubts, but more painful yet to entertain them. Just to know: it will be even more painful to overlook the doubt. This pain is the pain of healing, however. After an injury or operation there is often more pain in the healing than in the problem. So it is when we face our doubt. First of all, we need to know that we can only doubt what we believe. Verbs are all important here! Doubt only happens in the present. Because I believe, I am subject to doubt. Or, I doubt because I believe.

We fall victim frequently to our own crowning glory: our intelligence. It is painful to confront our intelligence, our reason, our understanding when we think we have come upon some unquestionable doubt. Perhaps the most painful part of faith is the humility it requires.

Von Le Fort continues: “Where my feet refuse to take me, there will I kneel down. And where my hands fail me, there I will fold them.” Laying our doubt before God in humility and quiet love soothes the soul. Faith hurts, but heals!

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