She was crying when I walked into her hospital room that long-ago afternoon in Charleston, SC. Blotting her eyes with tissue, she apologized for her tears, and when I asked if there was anything I could do, she blurted out, “I’m not getting better, and I know it’s all my fault.” When I asked why she felt that was so, she explained that a minister had told her she wasn’t improving because, he said, “she didn’t have enough faith.”
As I listened to her and watched the emotional pain which that self-righteous, judgmental pronouncement had caused, I grew angry. How in the name of religion or much less in the name of God, could such a thing be said? Why are we so quick to victimize the innocent to find easy answers to life’s endless supply of difficult questions? Beware of those who would have you believe that your problems, large or small, are because you do not have sufficient faith or because you do not believe what they think you should believe. Faith is not some kind of commodity that can be stockpiled in various amounts; rather it is an attitude of one’s heart and mind.
Faith, Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote, is to trust in a good God who created a good world though that world is not now good. It is to trust in a loving God though that love is not always reflected in a broken world. It is to trust in a God powerful enough to overcome the evil which men and women do and to redeem them from their brokenness. I believe that with all my heart, mind, and soul. Such a faith has the power to sustain and comfort a person even in the darkest moments of life. Ultimately, such faith is the gift of a gracious God who in return asks for our unconditional love and gratitude. We can offer no less for such a gift. In the words of a familiar hymn, it demands our souls, our life, our all.