An Unreasoning Faith

It has to be the most unrealistic illustration ever. No one who has been present when a child is born thinks that on any such occasion since the dawn of time would the sudden presence of shepherds bring about joy. Why not throw in a few foreign dignitaries for fun? Nevertheless, this was the last page of the children’s Christmas story that I found myself reading last night.

The actual events of that night were distinct enough without any mythical additions. Perhaps “bizarre” is not quite reverent enough. “Surreal”? Mary and Joseph were caught up in events that spanned the empire and even beyond, for the Creator of the Cosmos was coming as a baby. As if that weren’t enough, it must have seemed to them that events were conspiring to make this birth as difficult as possible. There was no planning the delivery. No nursery awaiting his arrival. No days of rest leading up to the labor of labor. In fact, no decisions were left to Mary and Joseph, leaving them destitute of control. They were only left with faith that this was all happening as it was meant to happen.

Faith is entirely reasonable. I believe this with all my heart. An unreasonable faith is a faith in something that is unreasonable. God – the divine Logos – is wholly Reasonable. The dichotomy of faith and reason is a modern deception. In past ages, those who denied God, or at minimum a god, were the fools. But as we bask in the dying light of the Enlightenment, it is the faith-filled who are derided.

Believing in God is not a leap into the void of darkness; it is a step into the light. Faith is not a desertion of the corporeal for the ephemeral; it is an embrace of the substantial against the claims of reflections. Trust in God gains us Truth over mere “facts”, which are so malleable in the hands of fallen man.

But lately I have been thinking about unreasoning faith, which is different than an unreasonable faith. Can faith remain reasonable while the one expressing the faith is unreasoning? I have come to hope so. There have been too many nights where reason has deserted me. Too many days of being stripped to the core. Too many times when my inner man is reeling like a drunkard.

Even then, I think Reason is present. It is only completely absent in the place of outer darkness. But in these times of sorrow and sickness, Reason paints less in the sharp lines of charcoal and more in the hues of watercolor. These are the moments when Reason is more of a warmth than a syllogism. These are the times when we run unreasoning into the hands of our heavenly Father and trust that – despite all appearances to the contrary – what He has spoken in the light is still true in the dark.

That Bethlehem night was glorious, though Mary and Joseph could not apprehend it. The plan of the ages was coming to pass, though Mary and Joseph could not perceive it. The words of the angel were coming true before their very eyes, although it looked different than what they had anticipated. And so Mary and Joseph simply trusted. They must have wondered, “Can this be right?” And yet they trusted.

Your faith is no less reasonable when Reason seems to have deserted you. In loss, in sickness, in exhaustion and burnout, you can and should still trust, though you may not be able to reason your way to it. It is no less reasonable for your lack of reason. You are simply trusting out of a place where the distinctions between intelligence and affection and desire are beginning to blur. You are trusting like a child. Nothing is more sweet to Heaven than a child-like faith.

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