We went to Disney World recently, and I was thinking about how lame of an experience it would be if I were to have gone through each ride pointing out how none of this is real, the stories aren't actually true, and this is all just a man-made construction. Parents would hate me, I would be miserable, and I bet I would eventually get kicked out.
I would also totally be missing the point.
The reason Disney World and all of the stories it draws from is awesome has nothing to do with historical, literal events. They don't call it the most magical place on earth because people actually believe in magic. Peter Pan doesn't have to be real for me to be inspired to hold on to my youth. That's irrelevant. Yet so often I miss out on the "magic" of living, because I'm busy analyzing or deconstructing.
A couple years ago when I was working through a lot of doubts in my faith, I sharpened a tool that for many sits unused at the bottom of the toolbox their whole life. I don't say that to elevate myself above others—in fact, there are days I wish I could suspend my inner critic entirely.
I used to really hate Pascal's Wager. If you're not familiar, it basically says believing in God (whether it's true or not) can only create limited losses (forgoing some pleasures in this world) but could yield infinite gain (eternal life). If your belief was incorrect, you would simply die and cease to exist. If your belief was correct...you get the idea.
For so long it felt like an inauthentic, cheap cop out. Sorry, Pascal, I know you were brilliant and I'm some dude typing a note on his iPhone on his couch. My perspective on this idea has shifted now, though, and I see it in a much more here-and-now sense.
If I live my life as if I believe in a loving God who created and sustains all of creation, and follow the example of a rabbi carpenter who lived 2,000 years ago, I will certainly be an agent of goodness in an undeniably broken world. Hope won't seem like a fruitless endeavor and mystery will only seem sweeter and sweeter.
It may sound crazy to some, this whole idea of harboring doubt and faith in the same heart. If that's you, be grateful. I have a suspicion, though, if you're reading this we probably have the same struggle to some extent.
Jesus encountered a man who included the words "if you can" in his request to heal his son. Jesus responds that anything is possible for those who believe. The man responds with, "I believe, help my unbelief," and Jesus heals the man's son. In the same heart, doubt and faith, and Jesus moved in power.
Be encouraged on this Christmas Day if you're coming to the table with heavy burdens and doubt that keep you from seeing hope during this holiday season. There's room for all of it at the feet of Jesus—born into this world 2,000 years ago to show us a better way and love us despite our doubts.
Merry Christmas to you and yours today.