12/15/2005: The Not so Happy Holidays…(Part 2)
I wrote the other day about how disconnected from the joy and seasonal hopes and love some people feel at this time of year.
Here is an interesting piece from the e-mail newsletter of Bishop Spong on that topic of Holiday despair:
"D. (last name omitted for personal reasons) writes:
"I am a man without a face. All I see in this world is unfairness and I feel that my life has been filled with sadness, loneliness and depression. I've been driven to the point of suicide. I ask you: how can I accept that life is unfair and still find a reason to believe in God?"
The tone of your letter is so depressed that I was alarmed by it. I can speak via this medium to your content but I cannot speak to your personal situation. For that I hope you will contact a local clergyperson or trained counselor and let them help you walk through this valley.
As to your question, I do not assume that our world is ever fair. The God I meet in Jesus does not appear to do so either. Jesus is quoted as having said: "In this world you will have tribulation." The peace he promised was, in his words, "not as the world gives." When in the Fourth Gospel he is asked whether either the blind man or his parents were guilty of causing his blindness, he said that is not how the world operates. When in the synoptic gospels he talked about those who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell, he pronounced them no guiltier than any others.
The world we live in has what we call natural disasters. They range from hurricanes to tsunamis. They do not just harm the guilty, but whoever was in their path. Job was the book of the Bible that addressed these issues most specifically. He too had no answer but to keep living in a world that will never be fair.
Jesus does not give us peace of mind. He gives us the courage to live in this evolving and transitory world without despair.
Our job is to transform the world when we can and to accept reality when we cannot. God is not the source of our despair; reality is. God is the power that gives us the ability to address reality just as it is.
I hope this helps,
-- John Shelby Spong"
Again, this time of year can both bring out the best for some people and can yet be hopelessly difficult for others. To those looking to their faith for answers...I only hope that these words of Bishop Spong can be an inspiration to anyone finding a hard path through this season.
Karen on 12.15.05 @ 04:37 AM CST