Religion can mean different things to different people. I do not consider myself to be a religious person. I am a Christian. A Believer. A Bible Believer. I might even be a Baptist. I go to church every week to worship and hear the Word of God preached. But I would not refer to myself as religious. The word is too imprecise and, in our culture, loaded with connotations.
As a human-centered system, ‘Religion’, or even ‘Faith’, cannot give purpose to the pain of bereavement because the focus is misplaced. There is no anchor, no immutable absolute by which I can measure my experience. Religion does not provide an accurate way for me to get my bearings in the midst of the storm. The rules are different depending on what culture you are in and change with the passage of time.
No doubt, religious practice makes some people feel better. But I need more than that. For me, the facts of my faith – Who God is, what He has accomplished and promised – and my relationship with Him, give meaning and structure to my grief. I still hurt – a lot; but it is not a senseless, purposeless hurt. Jesus loving me and carrying me – this is what I depend on over time as I move through this experience with Him. I worship the God who is real, the One who knows me and saved me from sin and death. I worship the powerful One who can and will bring Hans back someday.
I firmly believe there is a purpose and explanation for every tragedy; we are not always privy to what they are. But God knows and that is good enough. I do not believe in accidents and I do not demand explanations; God either causes or allows everything for His purposes; we are simply not capable of seeing the big picture as He sees it. Too often, evil seems to win. We would do things differently. We would be Religious and expect God to treat us better because we are so devoted. But that is not how it works. God does not owe us anything.
We must remember, it’s not about us or our religion. It’s about God. And not only does God know what He is doing with the universe He created – God wins in the end. Life and Love have already triumphed over death and sin, or where is our hope?
Unfortunately, there are alternatives to having a living relationship with the living God. There is hopeless, godless, creation-worship. There is devotion to a reckless, whimsical, powerless, counterfeit, ‘higher’ power that cannot help us. There is picking and choosing some combination of these to create one’s own personal, my-way designer religion.
I could not hang on to that thin a thread for very long. No, religion is not for me.
If you’ve tried ‘Religion’ and it hasn’t done anything for you, I want you to know, there is a better Way.