The best way to avoid disappointment is to not even try.
Life is struggle. Jacob is not praised because he is too wise to care; he is praised because he fights.
The other day a young man questioned my use of martial metaphors in preaching. My response was simple and direct. I use them because they’re biblical, end of story.
I suspect that this didn’t convince him. But the riposte should have stuck him like a slap in the face because the Bible reflects Reality. Here’s another way of putting it. I use martial imagery because there really is a battle to fight. The metaphors truly reflect that.
Pacifism when it comes to reality is nothing but surrender. And the more you claim that despair is a child of justice the more I smell a sweaty coward. Life is war because we have enemies. Entropy is an enemy, sin is an enemy, death is an enemy. Despair is an enemy too.
Despair puts on airs though. It passes for wisdom. Solomon can say everything is vain, but that’s because he tried everything. Most of the posing by young Werther is nothing but sour grapes. He doesn’t want to look stupid, so he doesn’t try. But there is no short cut to wisdom; the path to wisdom runs through looking stupid.
It is easy to succumb to despair in evangelicalism because well meaning people generate so much kitsch. But seeing the ugliness in kitsch is just the beginning of wisdom. It hardly takes any work. When you have truly arrived you can see the beauty in it again.
. . . the path to wisdom runs through looking stupid.
Raising a house is a martial art.When you become a husband you’re given a sword. It’s a dangerous thing and misusing it comes easy. But hiding it away is not the loving thing to do, it is the cowardly thing to do. To become an adept you must try. You’ll definitely hurt yourself in the process, and you will probably hurt other people too; but you’ll never live, or make anything useful, if you don’t try. You must judge between the good and the bad, and you must fight the bad. Judgments cut. When you fail to judge, you fail to make. It is this fear of failure that keeps so many young men from marriage.
There is a reason there is so much ugliness in the world. It’s easier. Just paint the canvass black, nothing to it. It seems like the safe thing to do. How can anyone judge your work if you never take the risk of saying, “This is my best effort”?
When you add white to black you take a risk. You say, “This is good.” Only after that can a spectrum of color be added, or even shades of gray. Anyone who has put his hand to it knows beauty is very difficult to achieve. And that goes for life because life is an art.
So young Werther, the reason the world looks so yellow is because your eyes are jaundiced. Clear them by declaring war on despair. Get out of the basement, take some risks. Fail spectacularly and try again. There is no shortcut to wisdom. You can’t get to it vicariously. The path to wisdom is lined with enemies. And the first enemy to fight is your fear of judgment.