We are saved by faith, not by certainty. So I often think that those who honestly wrestle with such questions are perhaps closer to God than they realize. Because, in spite of their existential angst and tremendous doubt, they nevertheless move towards God in faith and hope. Even though they cannot define God, comprehend God, or explain God, they intuitively recognize the divine Presence and do their best to live and move in this shadow of unknown Reality. They may feel agnostic or even atheistic, but they continue to read, study, ask, search, and cry out to that indefinable Truth which is both infinitely transcendent and imminently present.
The vagaries and vicissitudes of life bring us doubts, confusion, and a plethora of unanswered questions. Sometimes we bring great harm to ourselves by our attempts to control some small aspect of our lives. The world seems so replete with senseless evil, and our own lives can often become full of despair. We want to have some modicum of control over something, thus we can fall prey to demonic enticements and temptations. We think, “If I can at least alter the way I feel for a little while, then I can get through this.” But then we become enslaved to addictions and servants of self-destructive habits.
I am a man of firm convictions and rigid beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that I am close to God or that I don’t have tremendous doubts. But the beliefs and values I hold so firmly are based on a few simple things that I believe I know. Intuition, observation, emotion, logic, and experience lead me to believe that the existence of the universe and my finite presence in it is the result of an Infinite Source, some Eternal Creator. Intuition, observation, emotion, logic, and experience also lead me to believe that where there is life, there is hope; and thus I hold firm to my conviction that violence and killing are always bad. Intuition, observation, emotion, logic, and experience also lead me to believe that love is right and hate is wrong.
Now, do not mistake me; faith, life, and love are no easy things. Faith, life, and love are fraught with struggle, agony, disappointment, sorrow, and confusion. That is why some people tragically choose not to believe, not to live, and not to love. At times it is easier not to do so, and the devil relentlessly whispers this incessant lie into our hearts and minds.
Ours is a tenuous existence. There are no easy answers, no easy solutions. I guess this is why Orthodoxy emphasizes struggle. And I confess that I hate to struggle! I want to know with certainty that my children will grow up healthy, wise, and devout in their love for Christ. I want to know with certainty that my marriage will survive and flourish. I want to know with certainty that I won’t drop dead from a third heart attack in my sleep tonight. I want to know with certainty that I won’t be homeless one day. I want to know with certainty that my family and friends won’t betray me. I want to know with certainty that I will go to heaven and live forever in the loving presence of Our Lord. I want to know with certainty that all my beliefs are nothing less than facts.
But I cannot know such things with certainty. I can only struggle to cultivate the little bit of faith that I have, and struggle to draw nearer to the God Who alone can bring peace to the angst of my soul.
Sorry for those rambling, incoherent thoughts. Anyway, that’s my off the cuff “answer” FWIW.