Matt Weber’s Operating on Faith: A Painfully True Love Story brings both depth and humor to the challenges of mortality, especially when they affect young adults and come when you least expect it. Martin Luther is noted for saying, “In the midst of life, we are surrounded by death.” Life holds no guarantees and nothing is secure. God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, but they are here today and gone tomorrow. A tower, as Jesus notes, falls on good and evil alike, and the sun and rain fall on the righteous and unrighteous. We would like to be an exception, but sooner or later we face challenges that take us beyond our current reserves.
Shortly after his wedding, Matt Weber nearly dies. He has everything going for him, notoriety, a lovely and intelligent life partner, good health, and good work, and then everything falls apart. “In the midst of life…” Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggeman speaks of three seasons prayer described in the Psalms: orientation, when everything is going well and life is abundant and blessed; disorientation, when we lose everything positive that defines us and when we cry out to God, all we hear is silence; and new orientation, renewal of well-being, in which new life emerges out of the ashes of what has been lost.
Matt Weber lives through all these stages. At certain moments, he doesn’t even have a prayer. He can’t even remember the rosary. Some days, in life, we can’t even pray. At such moments, we have to depend upon the grace of God. The Spirit prays even when we can’t. At such moments, when we’re standing in the need of prayer, we must lean on God, knowing that God alone can save us.
Trusting God’s grace, operating by faith, opens us to greater energy, creativity, and resilience, especially in life’s most difficult situations. Weber’s story opens us to looking at faith with humor, imagination, novelty, and inspires action to bring love and beauty to our world.