This line from Mark has always been one of my favorite Bible verses. They were uttered by a man who came to Jesus for healing for his son. Jesus said if he could believe all things were possible to him who believes. Then this man summed up what it is to be human so succinctly. We want to believe. We really do, but we just can’t quite get there. Spoiler alert- the boy was healed.
Just yesterday a Facebook “friend” sent a private message to me. We’ve been friends for years. I have no idea how we “met”. Through mutual friends I suppose. We never interact directly. I see her posts/comments once in a while. I assume she sees mine. Just a couple of days ago, a very good friend of hers passed away. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Someone she talked to daily, just gone.
She told me she’s been struggling. She’s having panic attacks. It’s all surreal. I can relate to what she says. All of it. Every bit. She wants to believe, but in church she was always the skeptic. She kind of believes. It would be comforting to believe, but the intellect gets in the way. Society tells us to believe is to be naive or stupid or both. We were watching Blackish a couple of nights ago where Zoe was having a crisis of faith and her atheist (materialist) uncle uttered the line “I believe in science. I believe in community…” something like that. It sounds so superior. So intellectual to say that we only believe in the things we see.
Then, we face mortality and suddenly it’s a whole new ball of wax. Maybe it’s not our own death that upsets us. We can accept the idea that we’ll blink out of existence “one day”. But, when death takes someone we love, we inevitably want to know where they went, even if intellectually, we claim to believe they’re just gone.
I struggled with my mortality for decades. First, it was the fires of hell I feared. Then, it was maybe I would just cease to exist. Ceasing to exist was a picnic compared to eternal torment, but ultimately that wasn’t satisfying either. Then, I began to study. I had to do something about this unbelief. Over the course of 15 years, I’ve assured myself that this life is not it. For a very long time, I had this nebulous view of what comes next. Streets of gold sound gaudy. Singing songs for 10,000 years sounds like torture. The pictures of heaven I had made it sound like no place I wanted to go. I can tell you after a decade and a half of study, the picture is coming into focus. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like, but I do trust it’s going to be amazing. I now only have gotten over my fear of death, I am looking forward to it.
Back to the woman who contacted me yesterday. I wish I could dump everything I know directly into her head. I wish I could transfer the knowledge of the hundreds of hours of Podcasts, dozens of books, hundreds of NDEs I’ve read, people I’ve talked to who have had NDEs right into her and take away all of her fear. I had to settle with asking her to start with a MP3 recorded by Sandra Champlain on what grief is and how to handle it and to ask her to start to listen to Sandra’s podcast. I can’t give it all to her at once. That’s not the way human communication works (so frustrating). But, if you’re struggling with this, like I did, just remember the prayer of the man whose son needed to be healed. Start with a little belief. Start with just the desire to believe. The rest will be provided to you.