A voice is heard in Ramah
Weeping and great mourning
Rachel weeping for her children
And refusing to be comforted
Because they are no more
* * *
I envy my evangelical friends.
They face death with an unshakable confidence that after death they will be with Jesus in heaven, dwelling with all the saints, including their departed (“saved”) loved ones—mom, dad, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandchildren, and maybe even their pets. No more sorrows. No more tears. Endless bliss.
My older brother died believing that. After months of fighting cancer, he calmly resigned himself to death and welcomed it, saying: To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
My brother had faith.
According to the Apostle Paul, faith is a gift from God. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, lest anyone should boast.
Reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther agreed. Faith is not something you can drum up. It’s a gift.
I don’t have it. I once thought I did. But I don’t. I have the gift of skepticism. I comfort myself by saying: At least I’m not gullible.
Still, I envy those who have the gift of faith.
One of my evangelical friends drove 160 miles from his home in Austin to Uvalde to stand with those who mourned the killing of 19 children and two teachers by a gunman. You don’t need faith to do that. You just need compassion for “Rachel weeping for her children.”
He went with an aching heart but returned consoled, in part, because he had sung along with a prayerful multitude of believers.
Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see you
When I am sure I have reached the end
Hold on to me when I forget I need you
When I let go, hold me again
The day after he arrived home, my friend reported his experience to his blog followers.
It was a long, late-night drive back to Austin, but I felt refreshed. Sometimes it seems the journey is uphill, against the wind, under dark skies, dangers lurking. And then you realize the one you long to see is not only waiting for you, but right there with you.
That’s the gift of faith.
Many of us keep on without it.