Some Comfort

July 26, 2009

After 10 weeks of puking nearly every day, I was finally getting used to it. The sickness had finally reached the point of becoming tolerable. I'd roll out of bed, spend five minutes in the bathroom, then go to the kitchen for breakfast and get on with the rest of my day. I wasn't exactly jumping through hoops, but at least I could function well enough to wash my clothes and visit the grocery store occasionally.

That is, until recently.

A couple of days ago, I started feeling strange--fatigued, light-headed, almost shaky. I'd eat but feel little better. I went to bed with headaches. Then last night, I became sick to my stomach again. This time, the vomit scratched my throat--so badly that I couldn't sleep for hours. I felt so miserable, I thought about dying again.

This morning, in desperation, I pulled my Bible down from my bookshelf and read a familiar, well-loved passage: Psalm 139. I read it often as a teenager when I was trying to cope with some deep emotional trauma that had occurred in my childhood. That passage literally saved my life back then. It gave me hope when nothing else could. Today, I zeroed in on the second half of the last verse: "lead me in the way everlasting." I could really use some "everlasting" right now.

Reading the Bible isn't very popular today. Many scoff at having any kind of religious faith; they say the stories in the Bible are nothing more than fairy tales. Well, so what if they are? Even fairy tales have their use. Red Riding Hood warns children not to talk to strangers. The Three Little Pigs shows the importance of preparedness. The Frog Prince teaches the values of acceptance and gratitude. To be honest, I don't really care if Moses never parted the Red Sea or if Noah's ark actually refers to a dingy Noah built to save his sheep from drowning. I still find more hope and peace in the pages of scripture than I've ever found in any textbook or great work of literature.

Am I delusional--as Richard Dawkins claims--for believing in God? Maybe. But all of mankind is delusional in some way: we just choose our fantasies. Some women believe that marriage magically changes irresponsible men into responsible ones (they have yet to experience marriage). Others believe that a lifetime of hard work will pay off financially in the end (it doesn't always). Still others claim that, with the right parenting, they can groom their children into Harvard grads (until the children turn 13 and exhibit a little thing known as "free will").

And when life falls apart at the seams, we all--even Richard Dawkins--turn to something for comfort: family, friends, alcohol, sex, drugs, pills, music...the list is endless. I turn to my faith. After years of struggling against the pain and darkness of life, I can honestly say that my faith has never failed me. It has, at times, wavered and grown dim, but it has never failed. If that makes me delusional or ignorant, so be it. I'm no more delusional or ignorant than anybody else on this planet.

Karl Marx once said that "religion is the opiate of the people." That may very well be true. But worse things than opium exist in this world.


mindmatter said...

It is true; with man's involvement, claiming the Bible to be 100% accurate and literal is a dangerous position to attempt to hold. The story of Hans and Grettle tells of a time when the weather had turned poor, the food crops were at an all-time low, and families were abandoning their children in the woods, to save food for the other kids. The tale warned those abandoned children of strangers offering food to the starving from within those woods.

But to suggest that the Bible is pure nonsense or fairy tales is ridiculous, as well. There is clearly a human history recorded there, and as a scientist, I find much of the theology defendable, and incredible for a bunch of nomadic herders to have conceived on their own nearly 5,000 years ago. There is more truth and fact in the Bible than many are willing to credit it for. I agree that some things are unprovable, but the Bible should not be dismissed too easily.


Anonymous said...

This is well written and, next to mindmatter's posting, one of the least abrasive posts I've yet to read concerning the christian religion.
I am sorry to hear of your condition and I can only hope some form of pain killer may assist you.


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