I’m reading a book called God on Mute, where the author talks about that frightening topic of why God sometimes appears to be mute. Silent. Distant. The author devotes a section of the book to explaining why God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers.
The author offers several explanations for why prayers go unanswered, but one of his theories is that life is meant to be hard. He tells the story of a poor sap who encounters several crushing blows – his daughter is sick, he begins to develop a debilitating disease, he is in danger of losing his job, etc. The author asks the guy how he copes without losing faith in God, and the man says something like, “The moment I accepted that life isn’t easy or fair, and that it’s a tough struggle, then I didn’t experience disappointment when bad things happened.”
This is a difficult concept for me. I refer to myself as an eternal optimist, and some days my hope that things will get better is the only thing that sustains me. To give up on this hope and accept that things won’t get better, or that they may get better just before getting bad again, seems defeating, depressing and gloomy. Being an optimist isn’t easy. At least once a month, my expectations and hope endure a jarring shake. I then need a day to recover, rethink my expectations, and get back to the business of hoping for a better day tomorrow.
So, should we lower our expectations for this life and expect the worse? Should we be more surprised when good things happen rather than when bad happens?