Weakness to Strength?

Subtitle: Aged (ancient) Questions and the Necessity of Doubt

Grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, O Lord, they may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom. Amen.[1]

They go from strength to strength, Who rise on Zion’s hill, And everyone shall meet at length, Where glorious tidings thrill.[2]

As a pastor, I walk with the weary and the wounded. The sick and suffering. The aging and dying.[3] And more than once, it has occurred to me that life in this world involves a series of losses; some, slow to come over time, small and imperceptible and others, great and, sometimes, sudden. In this, I behold the image of our traveling a pathway of weakness to weakness; in Shakespeare’s terms, “The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to.”[4]

The New Testament scripture’s promise[5] and the Christian expectation is life everlasting; thus, a movement from the physical plane to the spiritual sphere. Or, perhaps, more truly, a return from the bodily state of having been born in this world to the primal, imperishable existence of spirit.

I believe this. However, the reality of it I, by observation, cannot know. For, as the Apostle Paul says, I “walk by faith, not sight.”[6]

Nevertheless, from time to time, I wonder. Is this life all that there is? Do we, each and all, inexorably grow weak, whether by illness or the suddenness of natural or human calamity, and die without entering the strength of some eternal existence?

I don’t believe that I am (or have been or will be) alone in my questioning. Yet, in this, my willingness to wonder, I find the renewing of my hope. For doubt, I have come to trust, is not in opposition to – but rather, a necessary companion of – faith. For doubt is not darkness, but rather the light by which I peer and walk more deeply into Mystery; all that transcends the reach of my reason, yet which I can experience through my wonderment.

© 2022 PRA

#earthlylife #eternallife #themiracleofwonder #thenecessityofdoubt #faithanddoubt

[1] From the Prayers of the People, Burial of the Dead, Rite I, The Book of Common Prayer, page 481

[2] Words by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

[3] I also am aware, very aware of my own weariness and woundedness, sicknesses and suffering, aging and, one sure day, dying.

[4] From Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be or not to be…”, Hamlet (ca. 1599-1601), Act III, Scene I by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

[5] See, especially, 1 Corinthians 15.12-58, 2 Corinthians 5.1-6, and 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

[6] 2 Corinthians 5.7

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