Tag Archives: Faith

Stepping Into the Bigger Story

By Serena Puang, DC ’22. Serena is majoring in Linguistics.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the goodness of God and faith. I think growing up in church, it was always assumed that we knew and believed in the fundamental goodness of God. We sang hymns about it and repeated it to each other so often that sometimes, I’ll admit, it became kind of like a joke: someone would share an annoyance from their week and punctuate it with “but God is good…all the time”. 

But what does it mean to really believe that God is good especially when your circumstances aren’t? I’ve struggled a lot in previous years with mental health problems, and as a youth counselor and even as a friend, I’ve encountered so many people who have asked me or even begged me to help them understand why a loving God would let them go through this

I don’t have all the answers. While I’ve experienced radical healing by the grace of God, I don’t know why other people don’t always experience the same healing when they come to Him. I don’t know why God blesses some people more than others. I have no idea why some people are born into loving and supportive families while others aren’t. These are questions I wrestle with often, but maybe they aren’t the most pressing ones. At the end of the day, I have no control over these things, and based on my limited life experience, that’s probably a good thing. So the real question is how we should move forward. 

According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is “the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It might seem childlike and anti-intellectual to believe in this way.  As someone who likes approximately zero uncertainty in her life, I can attest that this is very difficult, but God doesn’t call us to blindly follow him with no evidence of his provision/goodness. He’s given us his word which not only points us to the ultimate assurance of his love for us, Jesus’ death on the cross, but also gives us story after story of regular people who had to step out in faith even when it didn’t make sense. He called Abraham to move away from everything and everyone he knew at the ripe old age of 75 (Genesis 12); he brought David into the wilderness when he was one step away from the throne (1 Samuel 19), and he brought Philip away from his ministry in Samaria to speak to the Ethiopian (Acts 8).

In their lives, and in many more, God calls people to walk with him and join into the bigger story he’s telling with humanity, and each time they step out in faith, God provides and shows them that he is worthy of that trust which in turns strengthens their faith. On that foundation, I’ve found myself stepping out in faith in little ways and then bigger ways because each time I do, I become more and more convinced of the fundamental goodness of God.

In the last 20 years, God has never let me down. That’s not to say that everything has been smooth, but I’ve watched as God has thwarted my little plans and invited me to a bigger one, and I can say with confidence that his way was better than I could have imagined. I need constant reminders of that truth. I think faith is daring to hope expectantly that God is good in this instance too, even when you can’t see it and then acting accordingly, and since God is good, he’s faithful to meet us there. 

 

A Little More Than Lukewarm

By Jadan Anderson, Morse ’22. Jadan is currently undeclared.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’” – Psalm 118:1-3


There are two women at Yale I very much admire. The first one, whom I’ll refer to as Lucy, arrived on campus just a few months ago. She’s a refreshing presence, one that epitomizes patience, gentleness, and peace that surpasses even the worst of midterm seasons. The second one I’ll refer to as Eileen. She is not the opposite of Lucy, but an alternative. In what I admit is a highly romanticized view, Eileen embodies a tortured, ambiguously Christian scholar. She is weathered by the tensions that arise from the ever-hopeful, God-is-good-all-the-time-and-all-the-time-God-is-good tenets of her lifelong Christian faith and the evil that exists and operates in the world, in her personal life and even, as she has been told since Sunday school, in herself.

What I admire most about Lucy is the way she unabashedly worships the Lord in song. Her hands are up high in the air. She sways and jumps and spins. Her eyes are tightly shut, and for a moment I am convinced that we are no longer listening to the same song. It’s like she’s seeing something I’m not seeing, hearing something I’m not hearing. For her, the universe is blocked out. Nothing in the world, and she knows a lot about the good and bad in it, matters. In this moment, she doesn’t care about a thing, not what is going on outside of the church walls or what she looks like or what she sounds like. She is wholly unbothered because she knows that God has met her in this chorus and will meet her again in the next one. Without a doubt she prays, in between the song transitions, that others, too, could experience the Father like she does.

The honesty Lucy exemplifies in her worship is the same for which I admire Eileen in her wrestling. Eileen sees and articulates injustice and corruption, with a keen ability to suss them out of the spaces that claim to actively fight against them. She has no interest in preserving her present way of thinking: what she is seeing, what she is hearing, should inform her thoughts, not the other way around. She runs about campus and the city doing her best to put light into dark places. Her heart loves the world and yearns with a holy desire to see it bettered. She has no time, energy, or want to put on airs of deep inner peace and contentment. And while she has known the Lord for most of her life—and, I am convinced, still loves Him—she angrily shakes her fist. Right now, she is frantically flitting back and forth between what she understands of the world and the promises she has understood God to have made. They seem incompatible. He seems unbelievable. And with many doubts she cries and wonders why God hasn’t made His presence known in all the places, public and personal, that most need Him.

These women represent two states in which I’ve lived through my walk thus far. Watching Lucy is almost like looking at a reflection of myself when I first fell for Christ, back when I woke up each day hell-bent on bringing Heaven down to Earth, when I actively sought ways to sneak Jesus’s name into casual conversation, when I jumped in the air and thanked God that a friend agreed to go to church with me. Eileen is at once a reminder of myself before Christ–a bit beaten down by circumstances in which she was raised that seemed at odds with the supposed goodwill of God for her life–and of myself whenever I learn about circumstances that are far worse than those of my childhood–an all-too-common occurrence. I was, and sometimes still am, dizzied by theological explanations for why my loving God must or chooses to allow evil’s presence. And at times, I fancied disbelief a far easier conviction to hold than belief in a good, or at least all-powerful, God.

I know that for a while I’ve been floating in between these two states. The things I am learning about the world are often disheartening, but disbelief is not an option in my reach. Christ has captured me, and I still love Him. I can see where Heaven touches Earth. I perceive small, quick moments of His presence and catch glimpses of His workings. But the novelty–what I can only irreverently describe as a sweet honeymoon phase–seems to have passed, and in place of what was once a roaring fire for God is a small but ever-burning flame. I usually go through the day content. I am easily grateful for the smallest things. But I don’t exactly jump for joy like I did before. And the dull ache accompanying that fact intensifies when I speak with Lucy who, though her walk has been life long, shares her experiences as if they were all brand new. When that happens, I want to shut my eyes to everything and get back to the days when I worshiped like Lucy does. But then I don’t, because that self (though I’m sure Lucy does) never addressed the important questions that Eileen and I do now. And I am once again stuck in between wanting a blind faith and wanting to be released to skepticism.

God, through a few conversations about quiet and charismatic worship, about seeing and believing, about settled faith and disenchantment, met me again. I will spare the details–though if you ask me about them, I’ll tell you–but the bottom line is that this Thanksgiving I have been moved to be thankful for my faith, which on any normal day feels just a little bit above lukewarm. I could and should pray for more, sure. I think we all should continue to pray for visceral joy of our salvation, pray to properly feel the gravity of the great love let on by the death of Jesus Christ, pray for patience as we await the full merge of Heaven and Earth. But, though I am not jumping out of the joy of my salvation, I can still see its beauty. I can still remember it. I hold fast to it, and I know He holds fast to me. He has blessed me with a small, weary yet persistent hope, one that anticipates leaving this gray, slightly-above-lukewarm state of faith for a blinded faith unblinded, a questioning faith satisfied, a state I haven’t known but in which I’m sure Lucy and others like her live. And until then, that hope, however small, is something to be thankful for.


“Let those who fear the Lord say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” – Psalm 118:4-5

Simple Humanity (an interpreted villanelle)

By Vienna Scott

 

I, soley and errantly human, am a simple thinking thing

Reduced to a baseline irreducible complexity

Miraculous in existence of unceasing dependency

 

If I am to trust the greatest paragons of philosophy

Life, in a Cartesian sense, is ever-renewing in me

I, soley and errantly human, just a simple thinking thing

 

Demonstrably and inarguably a creature prone to err

I owe nothing with the penance of unadorned prayer

Miraculous in existence of unceasing dependency

 

With life parceled into seconds of necessary brevity

Farther prolonged, enriched, and enlivened in community

I, soley and errantly human, a simple thinking thing

 

I lack the attentiveness to fellowship with consistency

For the one pierced by my transgressions; crushed by my iniquity

Miraculous in existence of unceasing dependency

 

Ignoring wisdom from long past the sages of antiquity

Why must I fail to worship my unfailing deity

I, soley and errantly human, am a simple thinking thing

Miraculous in existence of unceasing dependency