October 23, 2017

All Is Lost

all-lost-2013-hdrip-xvid-aqosscreen_0

The other night, I watched the film, “All Is Lost,”  which is the story of a lone sailor adrift in the Indian Ocean who struggles to survive. I found it to be a film that lends itself to contemplation, with a couple of good lessons to think about during this Lenten season.

All Is Lost is a remarkable movie. It has only one character, played by Robert Redford, and his character has no name. The credits list him as “Our Man,” and this tips us off that his journey has metaphorical significance. The film has no dialogue. Its only words come in a voice-over at the beginning in which Our Man reads a farewell note, believing hope is gone, and in a couple of expletives that explode from his mouth at key moments. For the rest of the movie he remains mute, engaged in silent hand to hand combat, human being vs. nature, mano a mano, in a context stripped down to basics.

Two impressions stayed with me from All Is Lost.

First, I was struck by the banality of suffering. This is one of the most unsentimental films I have seen. It is thoroughly unromantic. Its events, though dramatic to the character on screen, are presented in pure, straightforward fashion.

The only nod the movie makes to idealism is casting Robert Redford as Our Man, but this is not the boyish Butch Cassidy or the heartthrob aviator in Out of Africa whose time on screen was accompanied by soaring music. This is not Roy Hobbs from The Natural, filling the screen in slow motion, knocking the cover off the ball or shattering the ballpark lights. Sure, Redford still has movie star good looks, and in All Is Lost he is portrayed as wealthy enough to take a well-equipped sailboat out on an exotic journey, but the way he handles adversity is entirely pragmatic and systematic. The natural sounds of thunder announce coming storms, not foreboding music. We don’t get shots of circling fins teasing us with the prospect of Our Man becoming shark food. Predators and other dangers he faces are not dramatized whatsoever, and he handles them all with careful practicality, using whatever means he has at his disposal in utterly commonplace ways as he works to survive.

We know nothing of this character’s inner world. We don’t hear his thoughts. We are not invited to feel what he is feeling. We see how he acts and draw whatever conclusions we might make from that.

The message this communicates is about as down-to-earth as it gets:  Suffering sucks, and you have to deal with it.

Many of us have notions of the “noble sufferer.” Redford’s performance de-romanticizes such ideas. When something unexpected pokes a hole in the side of my boat, the cabin fills with water, screws up all the electronics, and I’m cut off. When the waves get high, there’s a good chance I’ll bonk my head if I try to move around. Storms can break masts and sink ships — even mine. Sometimes I leave the cap off the container and the drinking water I’ve saved gets fouled by the sea. Ships go right by me and nobody notices I’m stuck on a raft.

These things hurt and sometimes I scream. They challenge how well I’ve prepared for emergencies. They force me to think about how I can creatively use the meager resources at hand. They look me straight in the face and say: Act or die! Most of the time, they don’t allow me the luxury of philosophizing about my fate or the ways of God. Those are the things we do when we’re not really suffering. In the midst of it, it’s just a battle and all I can do most of the time is scratch and claw and try to survive.

This is why a lot of our platitudes (Christian/religious or not) don’t mean anything at all to someone who is suffering. Words are empty when you’re adrift at sea. “Shut up and help me bail the water out of this damn raft,” I can hear Our Man say.

Lent should be so silent and sober-thinking. It’s time we dreamers looked suffering and mortality and how little and self-focused we are in this big world directly in the eyes. And this: instead of fasting and trying to fill our heads with all kinds of right ideas so we’ll feel better about ourselves, perhaps it’s time to take the words of Isaiah 58 seriously. Maybe we should be rolling up our sleeves rather than tearing our garments.

* * *

all-is-lost-robert-redfordSecond, in All Is Lost I was struck by the absence of God.

The raging sea has been used as a metaphor for life’s troubles, often taking on mythological significance. In the Bible, the sea is a prime example of surd evil and chaos. From Genesis 1:2 straight through to Revelation 21:1, where the sea is eliminated from the new creation, the great deeps threaten life. The sea is the realm of Leviathan, the mythic monster. God’s way of bringing order to the world so that he might provide a “good land” for humans was by dividing the waters and putting them in their place. God secured Israel’s freedom by demonstrating his power at the Red Sea, parting the waters of death and leading the people through them. Jesus showed himself to be Lord of the storm and turbulent waters by walking upon them and calming them with a firm command.

But in All Is Lost no one comes striding over the waves to rescue Robert Redford. At no time does Our Man pray or utter God’s name. There is no trace of religion in the film. It simply portrays one human being fighting to live in the natural world. We aren’t privy to his dreams. We don’t know if any piety sustains him. The film contains no remarkable coincidences that get our attention and hint that an unseen Hand might be guiding the sailor.

I found myself asking, “How would ‘All Is Lost’ have been different as a ‘Christian’ movie?” I’m sure silence would not have been enough for a pious director. Words — of prayer, of scripture, of devotion, of religious questioning, of thanksgiving, etc. — would have been inserted at “teachable moments” along the way. Perhaps God would have come to Our Man in a dream, angels would have ministered to him, a remarkable answer to prayer or two might have occurred, or a timely insight about what to do under duress might have come to him out of the blue. Some overarching purpose would have been revealed so that we would be comforted knowing that nothing like this could ever happen without us seeing that God is ultimately in control and providentially ordering events.

But in the actual film, and usually in the real world, God doesn’t show up.

That is why I am glad I watched this film in Lent. The Lenten season is not only about our mortality, our finiteness, and our sinfulness. It is also about God’s hiddenness in all of that. Lent is about acknowledging that God usually feels absent, not comfortably present. It’s about being one of the disciples and walking with a Jesus who leaves me feeling as befuddled and lost as a sailor adrift at sea. It’s about the fact that, a great deal of the time, I don’t see any “big picture,” any “reason” from which to draw strength as I struggle through life.

Lent is about realizing I’m on a journey I don’t really get, led by a God I can’t really grasp.

And then it leads to a Cross.

Too many of us are looking for a God who will rescue us from the stormy sea. We don’t want to roll up our sleeves and deal with the commonplace demands of real life. Rather, we seek some supernatural escape to a higher existence. We’d love to walk on the waves with Jesus and be able to point out, with every step, the “difference” he makes in our lives.

But maybe, just maybe, we will only see him clearly when he raises us from the bottom of the sea.

* * *

All is Lost
Lionsgate 2013
Directed by J.C. Chandor
Starring Robert Redford

Comments

  1. Oh God “always shows up.” Rarely in ways we expect however. But I’d certainly agree, there may well be NO miracle on tap.
    *
    “The message this communicates is about as down-to-earth as it gets: Suffering sucks, and you have to deal with it.” [ I certainly see it that way. Others in our culture appear to see it as an opportunity to achieve full victim-hood status.]

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And use that “full victim-hood status” to Lord it over others.
      “Poor Poor Me… I’M A VICTIM!!!!!”

    • @ Seneca.
      Some people do live in perpetual victim hood, but there is such a thing as an honest to goodness victim, and they do deserve support and justice

  2. Robert F says:

    ” Suffering sucks, and you have to deal with it.”

    But of course, there are many who, either through their own choices or the choices of others, or no choice that anyone has made, have no means to deal with it. The clinically depressed, the disabled, the developmentally disabled, the desperately poor, the chronically ill, the children, those ill-equipped by life for whatever reason, who can not “deal with” suffering but merely be sucked under by it. God is just as much a non-show for them as for anyone else, but neither do they have their own competence to rely on, neither can they roll up their sleeves and “deal with the “commonplace demands of real life.” All they can do is suffer without any sense of hope, without anything they can do. This is a mystery which defies all understanding. Lord have mercy.

    • It’s a fair point, Robert. The last thing I would want to do is shame those who have few resources or little capacity. These are the folks toward whom the rest of us should be living out Isaiah 58. We might end up being their only glimpse of God.

      • That Other Jean says:

        Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

        Christ Has No Body

        Christ has no body but yours,
        No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
        Yours are the eyes with which he looks
        Compassion on this world,
        Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
        Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
        Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
        Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
        Christ has no body now but yours,
        No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
        Yours are the eyes with which he looks
        compassion on this world.
        Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

        • Reminds me of a song I co-wrote five years ago.

          1. With His hands He carved the wood
          Blessed the children, broke the bread
          Healed the sick, Touched the outcast
          Carried my cross, the hands of God

          My hands are His, To work, to serve
          My hands are His, To bless, to heal
          My hands are His, for the glory of His name
          His perfect will be done

          2. With His voice He calmed the sea
          Blessed the poor, prayed for you and me
          Called the dead from the tomb
          Said, “It is done,” the voice of God

          My voice is His, to bless, to praise
          My voice is His, in any – way
          My voice is His, for the glory of His name
          His perfect will be done

          3. With His feet He traveled the land
          From temple courts, to Samaritans
          Strode the waves, bowed in the Garden
          Walked out of the tomb, the feet of God

          My feet are His, to go, to stay
          My feet are His, any – where
          My feet are His, for the glory of His name
          His perfect will

          My life is Yours, I give it all
          My life is Yours, for any call
          My life is Yours, for the glory of Your name
          Your perfect will be done

      • Robert F says:

        “We might end up being their only glimpse of God.”

        Or perhaps, CM, they might end up being our only glimpse, or one of our few glimpses, of God; the God who “usually in the real world… doesn’t show up”; the God who we may find broken and helpless among the ones left broken and helpless, left dead, on the side of the road; the God who allows himself to be “edged out of the world and onto the cross”…perhaps we may see him there, if only our competence, our rolled up sleeves, leaves us eyes to see.

        • Robert f

          I love reading your comments. Especially this one. Thank you for being you.

          H

  3. We can either love God because we hope for something from Him, or we can hope in Him knowing that He loves us.

    (chapt. 2, No Man Is An Island, Merton)

    I have to hope that God loves us in our wanting and hoping and our fragile knowing that He loves us. I have to hope that God loves in the midst of personal suffering that has reduced me to not hoping.

  4. This is where the preacher comes in.

    To speak of God and the wonderful things He has done for us, promised to us, will yet do for us (raise us from the dead). That we might have hope.

    A good preacher should preach to all as if all are suffering…as if all are dying….as if all are in that life raft. For we are.

    “A dying man preaching to dying people.” That’s the way my pastor puts it.

    And in that preaching of the gospel, faith can be born (Romans 1:16).

    Too many preachers give marching orders to those suffering in life rafts. They prod the suffering to get out there and do this..or that. Would you tell someone on their deathbed to get out there and save the world?

    One last thing; He is always with us…in the midst of our suffering. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We still suffer. But we can take comfort that the One who suffered for our sake…has not abandoned us in our suffering.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And all he sees is another Sermon Illustration.

      “I found myself asking, “How would ‘All Is Lost’ have been different as a ‘Christian’ movie?” I’m sure silence would not have been enough for a pious director. Words — of prayer, of scripture, of devotion, of religious questioning, of thanksgiving, etc. — would have been inserted at “teachable moments” along the way.”
      — Chaplain Mike

      Now you know, CM.

      • Well…seeing as how this blogsite is one that is preoccupied with… pizza making…I thought it was appropriate.

        If one cannot speak of Christ in the midst of suffering…then all truly is lost.

        I don’t expect everyone to understand that.

        • Steve, methinks you need to learn a good Lutheran word: Anfechtungen.

          From a paper on Luther by Laura Welker called, “The God who Hides from His Saints”“Luther understood God to act in the same manner toward his saints: hiding himself under internal and external suffering in order to counter human expectations and to cause faith to become true faith.”

          The point of the post is that, most of the time, we do not experience God as present.

          I say this with a sense of resignation, because I already know what your answer will be. But maybe some of this will get through.

          • Mike,

            Please learn to read what I actually write. I never said that “we experience” the presence of God. I never said that.

            What I said is that God promised to be with us. In good times…and bad. He is with us…whether we experience Him…or not.

            Where we can experience Him is in preaching (and teaching) and in the sacraments. He IS there, tangibly, for us…no matter what our feelings may be about it.

          • Robert F says:

            “The God who Hides from His Saints” is a wonderful paper, CM. There is depth in some of Luther’s theology that I almost want to call “mystical.” But if it is mysticism, it’s a mysticism of the ordinary, of the everyday, of somehow being aware of God working in the midst of the most commonplace and unremarkable things and events, and some of the most contrary, in the very experience of his absence. I find this very compelling.

      • “And all he sees is another Sermon Illustration.”

        See, Pastor welcomes birth of second sermon illustration

    • I agree, Steve, that the sense of the presence of God is an amazing help in time of trouble. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong, on a “Jesus-shaped” blog, to say so, either. What works for each of us, works.

      Without going into detail, I can say that since my born-again type “conversion” from reluctant atheism, I have experienced the presence of God and take great comfort in it, even or especially during the nasty bits of life like chemotherapy.

      I admire atheists who are benevolent and charitable without having any any sense of divine presence. They are better than I. Chaplain Mike and HUG, you seem to “rejoice” in the non-presence of God, at least in movies and art, and that’s fine. You too are better and stronger than I (which I have to warn you is not setting the bar very high! 🙂

      In real life, Terry Anderson, the journalist who was kidnapped by Islamists in 1984 and spent more than six years in captivity, wrote a book about his ordeal. In it, he states that during those terrible years where he was tied in a chair and blindfolded for all but a few minutes a day, he “did not feel the presence of God.” He knew this would be disappointing to all those who were praying for his release, but he was being honest. I put myself mentally in his shoes and wonder if my mind would not have broken under the strain, and if God would have been real to me then, and of course I can’t say. I hope I never have to find out.

      I was a fairly benevolent atheist, because that’s just me. But I like being benevolent much better now, when I can feel I’m co-working with Someone higher than myself. And I can stand being weak and even depressed now because of God’s presence. But put me on a rubber boat in the middle of the ocean…who knows?

      • I’m not sure I rejoice in the non-presence of God. I just think it happens to be a reality most Christian people won’t face up or admit to.

        • Christians realize that He is present. In spite of they’re not being able to ‘feel it’. He promised to be with us, always, and He is. We trust that, through faith.

          The Lord has never made us a promise that He has broken.

          • Steve, perhaps you could back down a bit? We all know what you’re saying, but it is hard to watch you take swipes at people.

          • So that’s what’s called. (when you correct someone who misquotes you, and then adds a condescending remark to the misquotation).

            o…k….

          • If you don’t have time to talk about what we experience, then you have no time to talk about Luther, for he himself said that is how God taught him:

            “I did not learn my theology all at once. I had to brood and ponder over it with increasing depth. My temptations have led me to my theology, for one learns only by experience.”

          • First off, I don’t happen to agree with every word that came out of Luther’s mouth.

            I certainly would argue that Luther would agree that the Lord was with Him in the midst of his pondering and brooding.

            There’s a great deal of difference between the experience of suffering and the experience of God within it.

            As I have said here before, we can be assured that God is for us…and with us…totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think. That, is a very Lutheran idea.

          • If you don’t have time to talk about what we experience, then you have no time to talk about Luther.

            Or C. F. W. Walther, for that matter, who said in his 25 theses on the distinction of Law and Gospel, “It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in combination with experience.” Scripture cannot be read, understood, or applied in a vacuum. It speaks to real life and doesn’t necessarily answer the questions we bring to it.

        • He is there…I do not see Him….it does not matter. Life is a drudge and, often, a disappointment, but His assurance that He is with me is all that I have to hang on to. Sometimes that is not enough. Then I despair and act as if He is not there, but He IS. He said so! Hope…

  5. Somehow, I don’t see a “successful” teaching series on “The Seven Steps to Feeling Lost” using the obligatory clips from the movie. I haven’t seen the movie but have heard from others how intense it is, as this post conveys.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Kind of like Mel Gibson’s “Passion”?

      During the hoopla when that one was screening, I heard stories of Christians entering the theater packing tracts for a little Altar Call Witnessing during the closing credits — who exited the theater silent and shaken, with all the tracts still in their pockets.

  6. “There is no trace of religion in the film. It simply portrays one human being fighting to live in the natural world.”

    Wikipedia defines Deus ex machina as a “plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has ‘painted themself into a corner’ and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a comedic device.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_ex_machina ).

    There is no Deus ex machina to rescue Christ upon the cross. Despite all the pageantry of the typical Good Friday service, this point seems to get lost.

    I again see this as example of how evangelicalism is so submerged in western culture that it can’t even discern the surface from the deep. Enlightenment liberalism ushered in an era when man was supreme, capable of subduing and domesticating the fiercest naturalistic forces. In an age of killer asteroids and the consequences of the industrial complex created as a force against nature, the enlightenment dreams never came true. But have no fear! In steps the cultural-redeeming evangelical with the good news that all natural forces are no master to God, biblical principles, and good, moral behavior. Natural forces merely need to be prayed away or repented away (in the event that a disaster is sent as punishment for sin). In my opinion, it is the same enlightenment pipe dream.

    I have often thought that an atheist’s view of God is far superior to the pragmatic, objectified view heralded by most American Evangelicals. Whether or not God is “in the box”, “ouside the box”, neither, or both, God is never in our back pocket.

    • Actually, the “Deus ex machine” of the crucifixion IS Christ upon the cross – fully capable of coming down, as his scoffers demanded, but allowed himself to die.

      • Great point, Ox. I really like that comment and perspective. However we’re not experiencing it here and now completely. (A least I’m not on a daily basis.)

        I also like your original statement. There was no “Deus ex machina” for Jesus hanging on the cross then and there. He had to wait three days, and we’re still waiting for the full results.

        I feel strongly both ways.

        Though He slay me…

    • My understanding is that the god out of a machine would have consisted of more than twelve legions of angels, which would probably have made more of an impact on the historical record than what actually happened. What if instead of proclaiming that it was finished, Jesus had said, “You know, I’ve been giving this some serious thought . . .” and run off to India with Mary Magdalene to watch his great grandchildren grow up.

      That this didn’t happen would seem to me to be the main point of the horror we like to call Good Friday., If it hadn’t gone down like it did, one result would be that we wouldn’t be here discussing it. Our Man in the movie had no choice in his ordeal, other than perhaps assent before birth. If a waterproof radio had come floating along or a fourteen year old girl in a boat setting a new Guinness record, he would gladly have bailed, unlike our own Our Man.

      • Robert F says:

        “What if instead of proclaiming that it was finished, Jesus had said, ‘You know, I’ve been giving this some serious thought . . .’ and run off to India with Mary Magdalene to watch his great grandchildren grow up.”

        Have you ever read the novel “The Last Temptation of Christ,” or seen the movie? That is essentially it: the temptation to come down off the cross and just live an ordinary life, wife (in the case of “The Last Temptation,” I think it was wives, Mary and Martha), job, children, etc.

  7. I watched the film this past week. You make some great observations. It seems to me the film is silent, with no narration or multi character dialogue for a purpose: the viewer is encouraged to supply the motivation, purpose, drives, significance and context, religious or wholly secular. The film is a blank slate in that regard, not telling us in any fashion what to think, what to feel, or even what to make of what is on the screen. We are on our own in that regard, left only with what happens, and then what happens next, etc. No manipulation, no melodrama, no “message”. . It is refreshing not to be told by a film what to think or feel. Something I wish more films would do.

  8. In the Wiki for “All Is Lost”, there is the following quote from the movie:

    “I’m sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right, but I wasn’t.”

    That’s not religion?

    The fact that he is saved by a hand reaching down into the water at the very end means “All Is Lost” has an element of redemption.

    Another movie for Lent might be “The Perfect Storm”. Redford’s character is ultimately rescued in “All Is Lost”; in “The Perfect Storm”, there are no survivors.

    Someone should make a movie of Albert Camus’ “The Plague”.

    • As for the quote, there is really no context by which to judge it in the film. “To be strong” – yes, but the rest of those words refer to relationships about which we have no clue. The “saving” at the end of the film is not redemption but the result of his last action. Our Man tries everything — as I said, he methodically takes every step available to him and every one of them is futile. The final step, which results in setting his raft on fire and sealing his doom if no one sees it, does actually work and he gets rescued. But this is no monergistic intervention and, in essence, it makes no difference in the actual meaning of the film. The point seems to be in the struggle to survive and he used every last option.

      • Nice spoiler, man!

      • Robert F says:

        At the end of “Moby Dick,” in the Epilogue, Melville employed what some might call a deux ex machina: Ishmael, the sole survivor of the wreck of the Pequod by Moby Dick, is saved from watery death by using Queequeg’s floating coffin, which bursts to the surface right beside him, as a life buoy. What prevents it from actually being a deux ex machina is the darkness of the journey that led up to it, and that we question whether Ishmael is better off for having “survived,” or whether he has really survived at all.

      • dumb ox says:

        There are many movies with a redemptive theme without a monergistic element. I heard recently that “Ground Hog Day” has a redemptive theme, but obviously is not Christian. Redemptive stories strike a natural chord in the human psyche. Everyone understands the feelings of estrangement and non-being but may not be able to articulate those feelings. The problem with Christian films is a complete failure to be subtle, indirect, and symbolic. Rather than touching the very essence of humanity where people can identify themselves, Christian films are so in-your-face with the message that people feel preached a mile away. The Christian literature or film come is are feeble attempts at allegory. Plot and thematic climax is replaced with the all important altar call punch line; Christian film is merely a vehicle to drive decisions with no attempt to first lay a ground work to start the conversation. The second problem is Christian literature or film which communicates to people who feel lost, alone, or at the end of their rope that there is something wrong with them that needs to be fixed – rather than identifying ourselves with those very natural human struggles.

        I find relevance with this discussion and a recent article on the “Son of God” movie:

        “There’s something about the life of Jesus—the teachings, the mysteries, the conversations, the miracles—that fascinates my imagination and challenges how I live my own story…That is, until I see those stories combined together in a two-to-seven hour live action film or series. Nothing makes Jesus more fictional than a movie.” ( http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/02/son-of-god-why-do-jesus-movies-always-suck.html )

      • I am wondering if the final scene was an add on to comfort the viewers. More apt would be an ending where help came too late to save.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          Maybe a more appropriate ending might’ve been to have shown him neither him being saved nor dying, but just left in limbo.

  9. Did Wilson the volley ball make a guest appearance in this film? 🙂

    Oh my goodness. I did a Google on Wilson for the heck of it, and he has his own character page on IMDB,
    Wilson the Volleyball IMDB
    😆

  10. I haven’t seen “All Is Lost” yet, but from the way CM describes it, if it had been made as a broadly “spiritual” film…

    …it would have been Gravity

    which was also a very impressive movie in its won right.

    • Isn’t it interesting that last year we had two movies with high profile stars, both dealing with being utterly lost and alone?

      • Of the two I found All Is Lost to be more realistic. There were just too many implausible situations in Gravity to be realistic. Great entertainment though…

  11. “[U]sually in the real world, God doesn’t show up.”

    This line is both discomforting, and yet so very familiar, to me. The way in which this is discomforting is that as an absolute statement, it doesn’t reconcile with what I know about God’s presence: He is not here with me only because He is omnipresent (and thus everywhere always). He is here with me because He cares for me. (I get the sense from the comments that that’s not quite the point…though the quote in the article remains stuck in my maw…)

    Yet it is familiar because I have gone through those moments in life when despite the knowledge of God’s presence, the sense of God’s presence is simply nil. Like some others, I don’t know what I would do if faced with dire circumstances (like being in a concentration camp) for years on end. I say now that I would not deny Him, but (a) that might be my comfortable chair and fully belly talking, and (b) I’m skeptical because I’ve experienced the irrational hopelessness that comes with even a lower level of suffering…and I haven’t exactly been a Good Christian(TM) in those times.

    All of that to say: part of me finds the themes in this post to be discouraging. Another part finds them familiar and (strangely) comforting. In the end, I am terribly thankful that my God is big enough to provide grace to me despite ANY circumstance I call upon myself, even if I find myself waiting to die on a raft at sea.

  12. I begin all my adult Sunday school classes with the reading of a Psalm. For some of the longer ones, I stop mid-Psalm and finish them the following week, and I usually pick a spot in which the psalmist (often David) is still in the midst of his angst and struggle. It’s so often like life; we can cry out and cry out to God, and still be left hanging. I mean seriously, if Jesus can feel forsaken, I guess we can, too (even if we “know” we’re not).

    • Rick Ro. says:

      By the way, Philip Yancey handles this topic well in “Disappointment with God.” As a blurb about the book says, he poses three questions that Christians wonder but seldom ask aloud: Is God unfair? Is he silent? Is he hidden? Curiously, he doesn’t exactly answer those questions. Also curious, that book pretty much all by itself brought me out of my own five-year-long spiritual desert to re-connect with God.

  13. Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

    -A collect for Fridays, from the Book of Common Prayer

    I have realized that when I quit expecting God to solve all my problems, I find my self hating Him a whole lot less. It makes a difference for us to cling to the promises he actually makes, and not the promises of the God of our imagination. This is very difficult for those for whom all hope in this world is lost. There is no secret to fixing it all, there is only pain and suffering. Only Christianity has an answer to this, but it is not a solution – God joins us in our suffering, rather than defeating or eradicating it. This is a difficult God to embrace, because we often desire relief more than companionship. But the companionship of Jesus is something different. I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make me happy most of the time, or give me perspective to the hurdles I must overcome on the sheer grit of my personal resolve. It doesn’t even give me the strength to carry on most of the time. Jesus walking with us through the valley ultimately gives hope because He is life itself.

  14. This article on the missing Flight MH370 really brings this into perspective. Regarding the question how in the age of GPS, how does a high-tech airliner go missing. The answer cuts to the chase:

    “Do we understand uncertainty anymore?”

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/03/10/288696918/plane-lost-uncertainties-regained?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=npr&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_content=03112014

    • Another great quote from the same article:

      “For almost ALL of the 2,000 generations stretching from back into the last ice age, human beings have lived through deep existential uncertainty about the world around them…Is it the genetic memory of that unknowing that makes us so unsettled when search teams seem to chase ghosts?” (Ibid).

    • One More:

      “But in creating our network of protective technological miracles, have we inadvertently inoculated ourselves from a reality that lies too close for us to want to face? Have we limited our capacity to deal with a darkness that, in truth, will always surround us?” (Ibid).

  15. “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
    – Frederick Buechner