Wednesday, December 1, 2010


My Advent devotional begins with these words:

“God is that greater than which cannot be thought.” St. Anselm of Canterbury

“Think about it. We can stretch our minds as high and deep and far as our minds can stretch, and at the point of the highest, deepest, farthest stretch of our minds, we have not ‘thought’ God. There is always a thought beyond what we are able to think. ‘God is that greater than which cannot be thought.’”

God’s greatness is something that I don’t usually marvel at. Growing up, I easily accepted the complexities of faith. Occasionally in worship I am led to marvel at the majesty of God, but most often I take it for granted. In college we called them “the omnis”: God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and so on. We know all these things, and absorb them with little thought.

This past week, I’ve been struggling with some big “why” questions. Even bigger than those questions, though, I am struggling with the “how.” I have never before been struck with such paralyzing cluelessness. I have no idea what to do. I have no idea how to figure out what to do. I have no idea why these things have happened, or how I can resolve them. How do I get out? How do I go on?

I am in a women’s Bible study of Isaiah, and he has a lot to say about God’s final plans for creation and humankind. The last question this week was “In what specific ways are you waiting patiently and trustingly for God’s final work of judgment?” And as strange as it sounds, right now I am so eager for the final judgment! There is so much uncertainty, so much I don’t know how to answer or deal with. And the only relief I have is knowing someday that all will be well. All will be fulfilled. All will be peace.

When I read those words in my Advent devotional, I felt peace in the midst of my turmoil. At the outer limits of my attempts to find answers, as far and as hard as I stretch my mind to go, God is there. He is greater than anything my mind could perceive or produce. “God is that greater than which cannot be thought.”

Quote by Richard John Neuhaus, from God With Us, ed. Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe, p. 17