Deacon Bob Evans
Why We Believe
You are so special to God that, at the moment of His choosing, He breathed life into you, and you became a human being. It was then that your earthly journey back to Him started.
There’s a deep yearning, an intense longing for “more” to life.
Mankind has long recognized that, in each of us, there’s a deep yearning, an intense longing for “more” to life. The early Greeks called it the unquenchable “fire within,” an inner force that animates us and pushes us onward, seeking “more,” but it’s unclear to many just what “more” is.
Many of us get lost in life’s distractions fighting off the emptiness that comes with that inner restlessness.
And so, many of us get lost in life’s distractions fighting off the emptiness that comes with that inner restlessness. After many years, the wise came to realize that this “fire within,” this intense yearning, cannot be satisfied by the things of this world. In time, it came to be known as the holy longing, which no amount of wealth, possessions, accomplishments, accolades could ever satisfy. For just the faint remembrance of our earlier time with God is so exquisite that it tugs at our very being and fuels our inner desire to again be with Him, whole and entire, for all eternity.
We are all drawn to God, even when we don’t realize it.
So, we are all drawn to God, even when we don’t realize it. However, in various ways throughout our life we confront the question: “Why do we believe?” Life’s trials, life’s disappointments, life’s sufferings, life’s unceasing demands on our attention so overwhelm most of us that we seldom arrive at a satisfactory answer to that question. Yet, our answer could shape the whole of our earthly existence.
There’s a very memorable line in John’s Gospel, in his account of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead, that reads: “many who had seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him” [Jn 11:45]. From Scripture stories about this and other miracles, we might be tempted to conclude that most people believe because of Jesus’ miracles; or, because of some profound personal experience they’ve had with what seems to be of divine origin. And for some, this may be very true. But for most of us, we find it hard to point to a particular experience or Scripture passage or Church teaching and say: “That is why I believe!”
Rather, for most of us the decision to believe actually arises out of the primordial level that’s well below our consciousness, where our holy longing, placed there by God, wells up in us. It whispers to us of a love that is beyond our wildest imagination; it promises a happiness that has no end; it reminds us that God awaits our company.
It is the “fire within,” that holy longing which ever pushes us onward, in its God-given way, that is the very answer to “Why we believe?”
But we go about our daily lives, restless and unsettled, often seeking satisfaction in unfulfilling ways, not realizing that it is the “fire within,” that holy longing which ever pushes us onward, in its God-given way, which is the very answer to “Why we believe?” As St. Augustine put it: “Lord, you have made us for yourself; and, our hearts are restless until we rest in you.” (1)
So you see, faith is a gift given to each of us. We can dabble at it, we can ignore it, but that “fire within” will not go away. It’s not until we accept it, until we embrace it, and live faith that we begin to experience the inner peace we all seek. It is responding to the holy longing within us, placed there by God, that is why we believe.
The author of Psalm 139 wrestled with this truth many centuries ago. In more recent times, the English poet, Francis Thompson, penned a modern day rendering of Psalm 139, titled “The Hound of Heaven.” You owe it to yourself to read Psalm 139 (2) and “The Hound of Heaven.” (3) They can help you recognize and articulate for yourself what you may be experiencing.
‘Till next time.
Dcn. Bob Evans
October 13, 2019
1 The Confessions of St. Augustine, 398 AD.
2 see http://usccb.org/bible/psalms/139
3 see http://www.houndsofheaven.com/thepoem.htm
John 11:1-45; Psalm 139