Tuesday, January 14, 2014

More Than You Can Handle

An old saying has really been getting put down lately, and not without reason.  I understand the point that people are making, and I kind of agree.  However, the Fathers of the Church are generally better at communicating the faith than we are, so let's take a look back.

The saying to which I refer is, "God will never give you anything you can't handle," or some variation on that.  The common deconstructionist retort these past few months has been that he most certainly will and does give you more than you can't handle.  Just Google the phrase and you'll quickly find at least a handful of bloggers devaluing the poor old truism.

But let's look at how St. Basil the Great words it:  "First, let me say that we have already received from God the ability to fulfill all his commands.  We have then no reason to resent them, as if something beyond our capacity were being asked of us.  We have no reason either to be angry, as if we had to pay back more than we had received."

Aha!  There's a bit of nuance here.  The old saying has it in terms of not being able to handle the things God gives us (things generally being understood as situations or problems), but the only things Basil talks about God giving us are commands.  God doesn't give us problems; he gives us commands.  Interesting.

The pesky bloggers have understood the saying to mean that God will not cause you to be in a situation where you will... "What?" they say, "not be able to handle it?  But of course he will!  He does all the time!"  And the bloggers go on to describe all the situations that they or those close to them have been unable to handle.

Basil's version is so much clearer.  The point is not for us to "handle" situations.  The point is not for us to maintain control all the time.  The point is for us to be faithful throughout.  Yes, we will be confronted by problems in life that are un-solvable.  We will lose our composure.  We will lose our money.  We will lose friends.  We will lose our calm.  Yet, Basil would tell us that all of that stuff is fair game.  It's totally alright to lose all of those things.  Tribulation will come.  The only goal we should have is our faithfulness to God's commands during that tribulation.

People emphatically cannot handle the death of their children.  They absolutely cannot handle witnessing genocide.  God never asks anyone to have all the answers.  He does not command us to "handle it," to "take it like a man," or to "deal with it."  He wants us to learn how to suffer well, for suffer we must.  We are called to suffer like Christ.

Christ's body (guess what) didn't handle it.  Christ was crushed, broken, killed.  Nobody's there telling Jesus to "deal with it."  Rather, he patiently suffers.  He trusts in his Father.  He is faithful to the end.  While the deconstructionist bloggers may have it technically right--God most certainly will give you more than you can handle--they're also missing the point.  It's not our place to stay in control, to "handle" situations.  Success is God's business; faithfulness is ours.

Funny thing is, I don't think I find myself in disagreement with the conclusions reached by most of those "pesky" bloggers, as I have named them.  I just disagree with their headlines and titles, designed thus to grab your attention.  They may grab your attention, but I think they're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Conceived in Rape

Please watch the video.  I am not a woman and furthermore not a victim of rape, so, if my comments are off, please forgive me my ignorance.

A child conceived in rape is automatically seen as someone who shouldn't exist.  Even this woman admits that when she found out the truth, she felt her "value" had dropped.  Children should be conceived in love.  That is the way things are supposed to be.  But children of rape are conceived in hatred, anger, lust, fear, abuse, etc.  Because their beginning is so far from where children "should" come from, they are worth less in our eyes.  The already enormous pain suffered by a victim of rape shouldn't have to be augmented by the physical and emotional burden of carrying a child conceived in such a way.  That is what many believe (I think).

Two things against that:

First, even if the human beginnings of a child conceived in rape are evil, the inherent worth of that little person as a child of God is never lost.  Just as God is my Father more profoundly than my biological father and mother (who in my case, conceived me in love), so God is the Father of a child conceived in rape, regardless of the despicable acts of that child's earthly father.  The child is good and unrepeatable, an object of God's love and attention, every bit as much as you or I.

Second, we are not meant for ordinary lives.  The ordinary choice is to abort the child of rape.  That's what is expected, because such a child shouldn't exist.  The victim/mother has suffered enough.  It's too much for her to suffer the stigma of carrying that child, to bear the physical burden of child birth, or to endure the emotional turmoil that no doubt such a pregnancy would bring.  That's too much to ask someone who has already needlessly suffered an awful indignity.

But I say that we need to stop settling for what is ordinary, for merely what is needed to get by.  Each one of us, in our own way, can be a hero.  Heroism is what our world needs--the hidden heroism of a victim of rape who chooses not to abort.  We need to stop encouraging one another to just get through crises.  Instead, it's time we began helping one another rise above them.  

It breaks my heart (not to mention angers me) that so many prominent pro-lifers out there say that God intends for women to be raped or that it is their own fault or anything of that sort.  It is a horrible poverty of mind and heart to say that because God is the creator of all life, even the child of rape, he must have therefore "willed" that the rape take place.  No, no, no!  That is stupidity.  That is blasphemy.

God is so good and so powerful that he relentlessly brings good out of evil and places a light even in the darkest of situations.  How powerfully and beautifully did love overcome evil the day this woman's mother decided not to abort.  What a brilliant light shining for all to see.

A life taking choice does not undo the outrage of rape.  It does not take away the evil committed.  It does not expedite a return to normalcy for the victim.  

Let us give life, not take it.