Was just looking over my last few post titles and seeing a run of question marks that I didn’t realize was happening. There are going to be none in this post. This is going to be difficult since there are no subjects that I don’t have questions about. For such a decisive person, I am perfectly comfortable with many uncertainties. In addition I am very skeptical of people who think they’ve got it all figured out, not only for themselves but for everyone else too. That is not to say that there aren’t things that I have proven to myself to be true and certain. There are some.
Today I went to visit Jack. He is one of my “older than me” friends who has had several months of acute illness followed by surgery, followed by infections, setbacks, weight loss, more setbacks, and endless rehab. I don’t know how he remains as positive as he does.
A home assessment visit was supposed to take place today and I was invited along since I may be helping him when he finally gets released. It was cancelled. He has a fever and didn’t feel well enough. Today I could feel the gloom and he had very little to say. I think he is living in the kind of decline that most of us fear is going to happen to us someday, if we live long enough without a quick accident of some kind. And for Jack it is even more of a dilemma since for the last few years he has been watching his wife Carol, go through an even slower, more agonizing decline with Alzheimers. He is concerned for her and for himself. They are in the same rehab hospital so he at least can see her frequently.
At home today, while I was thinking about Jack’s situation, the TV was non-stop talking about the latest journalist beheading. It was another instance of imminent death which I’m sure the victim saw coming. I wonder what it was like to anticipate that – and then immediately I don’t want to think about it anymore, don’t want to visualize it or feel the details. It seems like the world is unusually full of death, be it quick or slow. Maybe it has always been this way to those who were aware of the suffering, but it is pretty hard not to be aware of it in this present age.
All troubling thoughts about death and suffering eventually connect me to what I believe about myself and about God. To all people I would not be hesitant to say I am certain we all will die. To some people I would say I am certain God exists, knows and loves us and wants to bring us through this life to a better one in the future.. I am certain he can be known and loved by us once we really understand him. But to others I would not say this because of the questions they need answered, and which I cannot answer. I think I understand these people because of all my own uncertainties.
Here’s the good thing. As I wrestle with my thoughts on death, meaning of life, what I’m certain of and what I’m not, I feel no condemnation from God for having questions. Unlike this post where no questions are allowed, they seem to be allowed and welcomed, certainly in the past but now as well. I think it’s very possible that God uses questions, uses uncertainty, and is able to demonstrate his answers better because of them.
I’m not going to anticipate decline in my old age and I’m going to encourage Jack not to be afraid. I’m not going to fear terrorism and imagine all kinds of atrocities happening to me (well, maybe a little, well yes, I’m afraid of some of it). What I do feel is a great curiosity and a hopeful anticipation of having my questions answered, And it will be good when that happens. Of that, I am certain.