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When Tragedies Expose Our Vulnerabilities

Female Executive Drawing a Flow Diagram“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 (New Oxford Annotated Bible)

I was asked once if I thought the only way we would discover God was through pain or loss. I’ve thought a lot about that. Surely it doesn’t take tragedies to experience God.

And yet, I think it does. Maybe it’s only when we are overwhelmed, broken, and “poor in spirit”; when we cannot find the resources within ourselves – that we are ready to acknowledge our need for God.

We are born physically in pain. And perhaps that is the only way we can be born spiritually as well. Pain wears many faces: the pain of loss, emptiness, and disillusionment; the pain of guilt and shame, rejection and abandonment. Within all forms of pain, we find ourselves struggling to find the answers and resources to move forward.

We search for meaning in academic institutions and the wisdom of philosophers. We believe we will be happy when we have reached a certain level of success or have acquired enough wealth. We make plans, work hard to achieve them and believe we are good people because we attend church and believe in the golden rule.

And yet, in all our searching for happiness and contentment, we are left with a sense of being incomplete. We have difficulty throwing off anxiety. The answers we thought we wanted don’t seem to be enough. There seems to be something missing and we keep looking for it.

But who needs God?

After all, aren’t we educated individuals? We can find the answers to our problems in science, technology and the internet. Medical science is providing us answers for diseases and all forms of health and medical problems. While throwing the need for God out the window, we unconsciously keep looking for a God substitute that can provide answers of the spirit and soul.

I believe we will only find the answers to our spirit when we don’t have the answers for what is happening in life and we can’t even formulate the questions. When our well-laid plans have been destroyed and we are stripped of wealth, good intentions and well designed lives, we find ourselves re-thinking God and our need for something beyond ourselves, our culture and technology.

©2013Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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