Issue #285 / May 2024

God and I have always been very tight; even in hard times when I’ve been furious at God, God now feels absent.
Very heavy things have happened throughout my life, but I always had an optimism that I could do the work to improve things. [ ] But losing young friends to illness, losing a love to some very serious circumstances, some big consequences for doing work that holds people accountable, I’m feeling very heartbroken about the world. It’s the lack of justice that really breaks me and the feeling of helplessness despite all the work I’ve done.
Your work and this beautiful newsletter have been a lifeline for so many. You’re also sensitive to God in the many ways God may show up for us, so I’d love to know how to find my way back.

LOOKING FOR MY OLD FRIEND GOD, LONDON, ENGLAND

Dear LFMOFG,

A well-known couplet from Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem, goes, ‘There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.’ These words had always sounded like a platitude and a little corny to me, but a long, dark journey made me better understand their radical and unsettling nature – that God is often most acutely found in His absence.

This realisation shook me to the core, that the meaning of life – its joy, boundless beauty and love – emerges out of our most devastating losses. I learned that without the savagery of life, love has no true domain, and the relational quality of joy and beauty has no natural way to express itself. I came to understand that although the world’s energising principle is love, joy ultimately declares itself most intensely through our heartbreaks.

As I said, it took a prolonged and painful journey to arrive at this insight, and perhaps that is the road you are on now. The idea that ‘God is love’ is a hard-earned truth, and it can be discomforting to think that His presence is at its most resonant in life’s darkest and cruellest moments.

Understandably, you feel heartbroken about the world – it can feel like a ruthless place, vindictive, and sometimes it seems personal. But I have realised that it is a moral error to compulsively fixate on the world’s troubles, to elevate ‘the crack in everything’ and not acknowledge ‘the light getting in.’ Our pleasures and joys are not a negation of humanity’s suffering, a betrayal of those we have lost, or the denial of our various griefs. They are the bright, necessary, God-filled articulations of our humanness. We humans are our own howling voids – cracked and beautiful things pierced by light. Faith is not something we find, it is bestowed upon us as a consolatory gift. LFMOFG, there is no need to find your way back. You are already there.

Love, Nick

 

Ask a Question