Guest Post by Kendria Smith
I grew up as a believer, and while some seasons were a bit more “faith-filled” then others, as I reflect on my life experience in over thirty years, I’ve continued to hold strong to my core Christian beliefs. Even during my undergraduate years when it seemed like every ideology conceivable was brought into question and sometimes outright ridiculed by faculty and fellow peers, the thought of renouncing my faith and living in a world where I was the master of my own universe or where things occurred by mere happenstance was never enough to get me out of bed each day. And you’d probably think that living in ultra-liberal New York City for the past ten years would be enough to dissuade me, yet I still hold ever more strongly to the belief in a benevolent God who sacrificed his perfect Son to save me. Definitely not popular water cooler conversation at the office…
Why do I STILL believe?
Like many Christians, I’ve had my moments of utter confusion, specifically on the morning of 9/11. That fall, I was starting my junior year at Syracuse University. I had just come back from the gym and was preparing for a full day of classes when I entered my dorm and saw an abnormally large mass of students huddled together in the lounge room staring intensely at a large screen television. I had to ask someone what was happening and once the news sunk in, I made a mad dash to my room to call everyone I knew living in the metro New York area, especially my father. While all my loved ones were safe, I was not mentally, spiritually or emotionally prepared for the residual impact that the morning’s horrific event would have on my campus community, the nation and the world we once thought we knew.
I remember days of vigils and prayer meetings, the main chapel in the middle of campus overflowing with somber, bewildered faces. I even skipped classes, too engrossed by the continual news cycles reporting the very latest as the death toll climbed. Why should I write a paper on human sexuality when it seemed my very humanity could be endangered and erased in a blink of an eye? It seemed like everyone knew someone who lived in New York City and, more specifically, knew someone who may have been affected in some way by the attack. While many reached out to their personal form of theology for comfort in ways they may never have before, it was impossible to ignore the surging of desperate voices grasping for answers and hope to cling to.
This marked a pivotal moment in my life as a young Christian. Many friends and peers knew me as a believer and I felt responsible to stand up for my faith and my God, yet nothing I had experienced in my 19 years of life prepared me to be able to glean clarity out of such tragedy. In my mind, God had not changed, the world around me had. It’s this simple principle that I’ve clung to 13 years later. My daily choice to walk with God MUST be bigger than what is happening around me and my limited ability to make sense of it all.
In the Bible, Job must have understood this, as well. In Job 2:9, his own wife commanded him “to curse God and die.” I’m pretty sure you know you’ve hit rock bottom when your supposed partner for life, in the good and the bad times and in sickness and in health, has nothing of value to say other than to instruct you to renounce your faith and giving up living! Yet Job’s response in verse three is, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Clearly, Job was in it for the long haul. He had the kind of commitment that, over time, builds character and maturity and can speak volumes to those who witness it play out, day after day, week after week, year after year. The longevity of a Christian life arms and conditions us for those rough seasons when absolutely nothing makes sense, yet we soldier on trusting God, loving others, and sharing the kind of light that the world desperately needs. This is our motivation because life is not about us. It’s through our weathered hearts and fierce resolve that we carry out our mission to become more like Christ, which is the very definition of victory.