Tumbling in the Sand
“… for God is greater than our hearts…” – 1 John 3:18-20
This week, I’ve had a couple of depressing conversations. Conversations about how the world is such a hard place, how things don’t seem to ever get better, how the human heart is so messed up, and how people seem programmed to hurt each other.
I can totally get into those depressing conversations. My background in environmental science doesn’t help any because in that field we tend to focus on global problems that require wide-spread international cooperation to make any sort of real difference. And as much as I love Earth Hour, international cooperation needs to be more comprehensive than turning off some lights for one hour once a year. Global climate change is a little bit bigger than that.
It can make one a little cynical, especially when I also have all this theology running in my head: the reminder from Reinhold Niebuhr that original sin is the only empirically verifiable Christian theological tenet, or that while individuals may be able to make the occasional good decision and turn one’s life toward doing good, groups of people are far less moral and the larger the group of people, the more corrupt.
This week also just seems a good week for these conversations. There has been an inordinate number of articles about racism, sexism, and gratuitous violence skidding across my Facebook newsfeed in the last couple of weeks: everything from commentary on the Venus Hottentot Cake (Sweden), to further developments in the Trayvon Martin killing, to articles about insane state laws about women’s bodies and the personhood of zygotes (and eggs). It’s enough to make one ache with frustration at the state of things and to paralyze any well meaning person with thoughts of “What’s the point?” “It’s just too big.” “The world is just screwed up.” “I give up.”
And so, I take an extra bit of comfort in this single line from John’s letter. “For God is greater than our hearts.” God is greater than my desire to give up. God is greater than my doubt and despair. God is greater than my exhaustion. God is greater than my fear. But more than that: God is greater than the racism in the world. God is greater than the sexism in the world. God is greater than the violence, the hate, the despair and the corruption that fill this world to overflowing. God is greater.
Which means that even though I am smaller than all of it, lost in it and overwhelmed by it; God takes my smallness and uses it to reach out in love. And in doing that, I do not necessarily transform the world, but God does.