The Scientific Method, Agnosticism, and Finding Hope in Misery
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement,* 4 who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.c 5 For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ* does our encouragement also overflow. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement. 2 Cor. 1:3-7 NABRE
20 For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory.l 21 *But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God;m 22 he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.1 Cor 1:20-21 NABRE
Indeed today’s progress in science and technology can foster a certain exclusive emphasis on observable data, and an agnosticism about everything else. For the methods of investigation which these sciences use can be wrongly considered as the supreme rule of seeking the whole truth. By virtue of their methods these sciences cannot penetrate to the intimate notion of things. Indeed the danger is present that man, confiding too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher things. (1)
When the holy apostle St. Paul wanted to console his Corinthians he began by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may also comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” [II Cor. 1:3–4]. With these words he teaches us through his own example that the afflicted are to be comforted and that this comfort comes from God and not from men. St. Paul emphasizes this to avoid that false and pernicious comfort sought after and handed out by the world, the flesh, and also the devil. That [kind of comfort] slows down and stops all the benefits and the fruits that come to us from suffering and cross.
One of the cardiologists I had was a world class doctor. Indeed, among his other patients were a former president and a king. Though not a Christian, and perhaps only nominally religious, he used to tell me that God would keep him humble. God did this every time he accomplished something extraordinary by simply giving him a head cold. With such, he could not perform surgery, he wasn’t supposed to see patients in poor health and was rendered miserable physically, and because of his inability, miserable because he was useless.
I think the quote in blue helps us understand the problem. The ability to observe suffering, to encounter that which makes one miserable is undisputed, The ability of hat observation to do something about, something even as simple as providing comfort and relief is not always possible.
We can do so many things medically and scientifically, but not everything. We count on our doctors, our pharmacies, science and sometimes the liquor store to provide the answers to every ailment, to every problem, to every struggle. They can’t, and what is worse if our hope has been placed solely in their provision, we’ve lost faith and trust in something higher.
We’ve become agnostic, and in doing so, we’ve lost the comfort and peace the Holy Spirit brings in those moments of horrid, miserable brokenness.
Luther points us back to scripture, to the fact that such comfort does come from God, that secure in HIs presence, we find the comfort when life seems to crush us. I could have put 12 more quotes from 2 Corinthians, or tossed in Job and Ecclesiastes and Hosea, for that truth is throughout scripture.
Where man’s brilliance fails, God is there, providing comfort and peace. There is compassion, the mercy, the comfort, all that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead and works within us. (it is tempting to wax theologicial here) But the Holy Spirit, whose presence was a gift to us in our baptism, who gives us life, real life, and heals our broken hearts and souls, there is our hope, there is the guarantee that eternity will not be life as we know it.
As one who has had a share of physical pain and suffering, illness and disease, I share this as well, in Christ Jesus, you will find hope. Reminded of my physical brokenness with the very ticks of my heart (two artificial heart valves) and struggling with back pain, and worst of all, these stupid, miserable, nose reddening, sinus pounding allergies, I know this.
The Lord is with you (and with me – as my beloved congregation reminds me very often!)
Hearing that, I find the answer to my quest for mercy; I find the comfort and peace that the Spirit reveals that gives me hope, and I find the strength to share that hope with you.
Scientific method, Agnosticism, and Atheism will not answer the cry for mercy.
But when we cry, “Lord have Mercy!” God answers, for He is our beloved Father.
(1) catholic Church. “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II. Ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 43. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999. Print.
Posted on October 8, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged comfort, Common cold, Concordia, Concordia Cerritos, Luther, peace, suffering, Vatican II. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.