If that is true, then there must be a fine line between insanity and faith. For faith calls us to believe that the outcome will be different even though our prayer has remained unanswered over and over again.
Saint Monica is a perfect example. Mother of the great Church Father Augustine, Monica was a woman of Christian faith who bore a son by a pagan who himself remained pagan for many years. Monica prayed unceasingly that her son would see the light and join the true faith.
After many years we know of course, that her prayers were finally answered. Augustine saw the truth in one moment of clarity, and went on to be the Bishop of Hippo and one of our greatest theologians.
But we need not go to ancient times to find examples. We too do it in our every day lives. “Practice makes perfect” is a euphemism for the fact, that we humans are tenacious in our determination to succeed. We are told to “get up, dust ourselves off, and try again.” We DO expect different outcomes. We search for the error of our past attempt and seek to rectify it. We are by nature people of great faith.
In Luke 5: 1-11 we have the story of the miraculous catch. Jesus calls Peter and the others to put back out to sea, and after addressing the crowds, he tells Peter to let out the nets. Having spend the night fishing with no results, Peter protests, “Master we have worked hard all night and caught nothing!”
One can imagine Jesus smiling gently, as if to say, “Peter we have done this all before many times. When will you trust me?” Of course he doesn’t, perhaps the look is enough. You can almost hear the sigh from Peter as he reaches for the net, “at your command, I will lower the nets.” Of course we all know what happened.
Children intuitively I think never give up. They have yet to have a firm grip on “reality” and so they do expect a different outcome. Each peek-a-boo is anticipated with the same first-time-ever expectation–What will happen next? As we grow up, and lose this sense of wonder, we lose our abilities sometimes to “try again.” This is especially true about the big issues. We may try again and again to bake that cake that seems always to turn out dismally, but we are sometimes loathe to try again a relationship when we have been hurt badly.
We may give up on politics as a worthless pursuit because the engines of government turn so slowly and the rancor is so intense that “nothing will ever get done.” Yet there are, thankfully, tens of thousands, who keep the nose to the grindstone and incrementally, maybe over decades, make small but ultimately important changes. A life time might be spent on preserving one small wet-land. Who is to say that this is not great faith along with dogged work?
Jesus’ lesson is that faith does in fact move mountains. Peter and the others are changed in ways that we can but fathom from a distance. In this instance all the fine words of Jesus fall away, wonderful as they are and were. Peter has realized in one moment in time that everything he has invested in this man of Galilee has been worth it, and though he cannot yet know, it will be worth all that he endures and suffers in the future.
Through Peter’s faith, we realize our own. We stand a bit straighter, for the burden lightens. We are not alone in our failures and missings of the mark. Jesus is here with us, and he urges us to try once more. Our faith is worth our investment in it. We are reassured that we are not beating our heads against a wall. The cake one day will turn out perfectly.
Life can appear at time to be drudgery and hardship. In the midst of trauma, we forget the moments of sweetness and pure bliss. If we remember this miraculous catch, we will remember too that the sun will be back soon, our dreams will become reality and our hearts will sing the joys of life.
- Perseverance – Whose Responsibility Is It? (mgriffinrobert.com)
- Faith, the Measure of God’s Grace! (psalmsofpraisewomensministries.wordpress.com)
- Saint Monica’s grief and joy (insightscoop.typepad.com)