The Rev. Raymond Davis Jr., founder and pastor emeritus, Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: I’m not aware of this particular kind of thinking from Mr. Calvin. However, I’m not in agreement with such a conclusion as human ignorance of their misery. Mr. Calvin must have been having a bad day when he concluded to such.
“Misery” carries negative connotations and a bucket list of associate words — trouble, sorrow, suffering, weariness, iniquity and more.
But God did not create us to be impervious to pain and misery, no matter the kind. There is purpose to human misery. It’s God’s testing ground to determine how we respond to such circumstances. The answer for misery, to have no real live negative impact on our person, is given scriptural expression. “Though you slay me yet will I trust in ‘him.’” (Job 13:15)
Jesus epitomizes the pain and cry of misery — “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Parents of boys in our time feel the misery of the human violence in the loss of their sons by the gun. The parents of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown mourn in misery as both sons go to their graves with questionable epitaphs of critical circumstances.
So that we might understand that forms of misery are part of life and we can overcome them, consider: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
The Rev. Penny Ellwood, Blue Springs Campus pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection: Just this week I listened to the story of a woman who was involved in a court case concerning her husband, where his abusive nature was revealed. The judge pulled her out of the courtroom and appointed her public counsel for fear her husband might do her harm. It wasn’t until that moment that she understood the severity of her circumstances.
I think in a similar way we are unaware of our misery. We were created to be in a perfect relationship with God, but ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden we have been subject to the effects of sin.
Unfortunately, this sinful state has become normalized, and though we sense in our being that things are not as they should be, there is ignorance as to why, and we have settled for less than God desires for us.
C.S. Lewis captured this: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
I don’t agree with Calvin on everything, but on this I would concur: Until we experience Christ, we are ignorant of the full extent of our misery.
We settle for a good thing when a God thing is available.
The writers of the Voices of Faith columns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org