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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

What helps you to see light at the end of the tunnel? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.1295).

The first response to this question probably is:  It all depends on which tunnel you are referring to.  But there is a useful sense in which the question can be addressed generically.  From this perspective there can be several responses.  The first is the regularity in which many things occur cyclically having a high and low point.  If you find yourself in at a low point, just hang on, chances are there will be a turn around. The next thing to observe about this cyclic curve is frequency.  Nearly all things involve process.  It took a process to get us to the low point, and its reversal probably will not be instant but will also require a process.  Yet, to be realistic we must always be mindful that miracles can occur.  What our perspective tells us will take a good bit of time can in actuality take much less.  This is so generally because we lack encyclopedic knowledge and encounter forces acting within the situation that we have discounted or overlooked.  But optimism is warranted even in depressing times because of the human element.  I think of William Faulkner’s comment:

It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. (Speech at the Nobel Banquet)

As a believer in divine providence and in a loving God, I believe in redemption through repentance and faith.  We cannot and do not in the end pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps—earthly enterprise and creativity are not solely or even fundamentally humanity based.  Since divine intervention is continually present, there is hope despite inherent human limitations.  This for the believer is where hope ultimately resides.  This point of view holds that human hubris is the greatest challenge to a realistic perspective and to maintaining genuine optimism, constituting an overwhelming darkness without the light and grace of providence.

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