Last week I wrote a piece for The Washington Post about having faith enough to believe that God can act against logic and what seems possible. (I unfortunately did not get to choose the final title of my piece) In this particular instance I was referring to older women having healthy children despite scientific probability weighing against such hope. My article was in response to another piece, “How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society: The scary consequences of the grayest generation,” written by Judith Shulevitz and published in The New Republic last month.
I was simply saying that as a person of faith my perspective on what is possible is always influenced by what I believe about God. I choose to believe that God can and often does work in ways that have no logical or scientific explanation. I made no suggestion of God rewarding people for good behavior, or of expecting God to ALWAYS act against logic and in favor of what seems impossible. I was simply sharing that God can have the last word on anything. Even on whether or not I will have a child, a healthy one, if I give birth over the age of 39.
And yet, the few public responses I received to the article have kept me wondering; why does faith seem so offensive to some people? I was called naïve, accused of escaping reality and believing in fairy tales. One person even told me that as I might as well hope to get impregnated by God. I was not upset by these words because I realize that people who do not believe in Christ may have a very different understanding of what is or is not possible with God (1 Corinthians 2:14.) What baffled me more was the apparent deep offense and palpable anger some readers felt towards the mere expression of someone believing that God can and does work in mysterious ways. Automatically some readers jumped to conclusions about me, and my faith perspective. I imagine this could be because they read the piece primarily through the lens of their own personal stories and experiences, rather than reading the article at face value.
I have found myself thinking about this for the last several days, about how the idea of faith can be threatening in some odd way to some people. I have found myself wondering why people balk at the idea of choosing to hope in a God for whom all things are possible. I understand that such faith is dangerous because it risks deep disappointment. And it can beget the question of, ‘If all is possible why didn’t God do something?” But the aspect of faith I was reflecting on is not about EXPECTING God to act in any particular way. It is about believing that God CAN act in any particular way. The former is a whole other discussion.
But maybe that’s where the public ridicule and disdain comes from, because so often we judge God by whether or not God has met OUR expectations of what should be permissible, what is fair, what is “good” by our own perceptions. Or we see faith or belief in God as naïve or unrealistic because too much mystery flies in the face of our human pride and arrogance. There are so many reasons for why people ridicule and insult those who seek to believe that God’s ways are not our ways nor are God’s thoughts our thoughts. And yet, this has only served to remind me that as believers called to be “in the world but not of it,” maybe it’s actually a good thing when people mock us for our beliefs. Maybe it’s actually a sign that we’re doing something right. That should only make for encouragement.