I've been going back through some old pictures, putting together ideas for a new project. This one, which I believe my cousin Jimmy sent me, is one of my favorites because there's a little mystery to it. Something seems to be happening—or maybe someone is approaching—off camera, to the left side of the picture. The woman in the white dress and heels (a distant relative I'm told) looks unimpressed, maybe even confrontational. The woman in the apron (my maternal grandmother) appears resigned and suspicious. She has seen what's out there and thinks it will be, in the end, just more trouble to deal with. The girl in plaid (Aunt Joyce) has a hopeful expression. She seems curious and eager. And the little girl (my mother) has turned her head away, as if she's not sure she's ready for this. She hides in the shadow of her big sister.
Granted, someone else might read this old snapshot differently, but for me, it's a reminder that we approach the world so differently as we move through life. We experience the good, the bad, the tragic; thrilling successes and heartbreaking failures. Some dreams come true and some don't. Through it all, we try to overcome childhood fears and hold onto the optimism of our "girl-in-the-plaid-dress youth" but temper that with the wisdom we've gathered over the years.
Daddy has always said that young people might have intelligence, but nobody acquires any wisdom till they're over 30:) He also says that you have to know God through faith—if you rely on books or anything else to prove God to you, you'll be disappointed. This is coming from someone who has one of the most inquisitive minds you will ever encounter. Junior Fraser questions everything. But his journey has taught him that there are some things we can accept and believe, even if we can't fully understand them.
I've had cause, in the last few months, to revisit the question, "Why is there evil and suffering in the world?" And I've been rereading Reverend Timothy Keller's The Reason for God. Two things jumped out at me:
(1) It's okay to examine your faith.
From Reverend Keller: Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. . . . [S]uch a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.
(2) It's okay to admit you don't have all the answers—and never will.
From Reverend Keller: If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn't stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you can't know.
A special prayer this morning for anyone facing a difficult personal battle—or wrestling with difficult questions.