Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pop Quiz: What do Mick Jagger and St. Augustine have in common?

Satisfaction was not forthcoming
to Mick Jagger...
I heard on the radio today – and here it is in the Huffington Post – that God’s current approval rating is... 52%! That’s higher than Obama and John Boehner and many other public figures, but ... geez... you’d think the Creator, Almighty God would be pleasing more than roughly half of us! I mean, what the...???

Although... If I’m completely honest, I can dig where they’re coming from. Because I can’t say that I am always 100% pleased with how things are going. And some times in my life are worse than others. Right now, I’ve got it pretty easy, relatively speaking. I couldn’t say the same for other eras - like when I had anorexia, or when my business wasn’t doing too well. But I have noticed that even when things are going fairly well, my mind will find something to unsettle it, sad to say. 

Most of the time I’ve presence of mind enough to realize that my misfortunes are often my own fault or are part of the fallen world we live in. If you buy into the Christian world view, you believe that the world was created perfect, but when Adam and Eve ate the apple in the garden of Eden, everything went to hell. Figuratively, speaking... and literally, too, pretty much. 

...or St. Augustine.
Now, Jesus came to redeem our fallen souls, but we’re still stuck here in this place where there’s natural disasters, people get sick, make bad choices, and sabotage themselves and others. 

I said “most of the time,” because, well... not always. There are times that I feel like God might not be holding up His end of the bargain. If I stand back and ask myself, “what bargain are you referring to?” then I have to admit that maybe it’s me that isn’t up to snuff.

And knowing the cause of some hard time I am having – fallen world, own stupidity - doesn’t make it easier. I may not be blaming God, but I still sometimes wonder why He doesn’t HELP me more, or SHOW me more clearly what He would have me do. I have found myself asking Him the question, “What purpose is this trial serving?” Of course, He has His reasons, but what I am saying, if I’m honest, is “Stop it because there’s no reason for it.” Like I would know.

I guess it all comes back to Job. If anyone had the right to complain, to give God a low approval rating, it would be him... his family was killed, he was covered with boils, he lost everything he had. But when he said, “What the hell...?” God said, “I made everything and keep everything running – who are you to question me?” To which Job said, “I’m shutting up now.” 

On the other hand, the Psalms show that struggling with God is perfectly normal and acceptable. The Psalmist has a lot on his mind, and he doesn’t mind letting it all hang out. Sometimes he’s completely in love with God, but sometimes he’s all, “What’s going on here? Give a guy a break!” King David himself – a man after God’s own heart – penned lots of these “songs,” in which he wrestles with God in a very real way. I think it’s pretty important to talk to God and be honest with Him. He knows anyway, right? Yes, Job and the Psalms are very helpful books in the Bible for sufferers... We learn that we are not alone. That God has His reasons.

The Replacements dared us to tell
 them they were satisfied.
I’m pretty sure that being discontented is part of the human condition... I think that God can help us rise above it (Paul said: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”) But... in general, it is more like us to be disgruntled. Look at the world we live in. While it has a lot to recommend it – nature and art and love and friends and family... it is also a drag. Why do you think Mick Jagger can’t get no... sa-tis-fac-tion... or why the Replacements sang, “Look me in the eye and tell me I’m satisfied”? And even though Paul apparently reached a supernatural state of contentment, it is my view that we won’t see honest-to-goodness rest from our struggles on this side of heaven. 

And Soul Asylum recognized
it as homesickness.
Yes, I think we are homesick for heaven... like Soul Asylum says in Homesick, “And we are not of this world / And there’s a place for us / Stuck inside this fleeting moment / Tucked away where no one owns it / Wrapped up in a haste, / And by mistake got thrown away / And oh, I am so homesick / But it ain’t that bad / Cause I’m homesick for the home I’ve never had.” 

And that, in my opinion, is why 48% of us are not too thrilled with how God is running things. As St. Augustine said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” 

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