Doubt and Inner Peace

Everything is doubtful, but doubt is inconsequential. Once, my OCD was so intense that I would stay awake for hours trying to make everything okay before I went to sleep. I entertained an endless stream of blasphemous thoughts, agonized over the existence of God, and became convinced that nothing was true. Now, I have no such nights, not because I have no intrusive thoughts, but precisely because when I do have intrusive thoughts, they don’t bother me. I know that doubt is irrelevant. Whether dull, diffuse feelings of generalized doubt in the background of your life, or sharp, unavoidable lines that draw you in like an addiction, repeating, “you must believe,” all things are doubtful, but we act before we believe; belief is itself an act. Beliefs are not certainties impressed upon us by the world but rather movements of the soul- they are not known to bear any resemblance to the world. Christianity, far from being propositional, is an act, and any belief is therefore irrelevant in itself. Belief is relevant only as it pertains to action- indeed, to one action. Nothing is known, but nothing matters.

Inner peace is a result of situations in which beneficial consequences- albeit differently beneficial consequences- result not just from some but from all outcomes. If one’s hope is in the Lord, then it is in the transcendent and not the proximate: and so the proximate cannot determine one’s satisfaction or lack thereof. The Christian is determined that whatever, in fact, occurs, so long as he is faithful, will be to the benefit of his eternal soul. And since all other considerations are infinitely outweighed by this one, whatever happens to him, whether good or ill, is deserving of celebration. In fact, it is this which is beneficial to his eternal soul- that he be so convicted. This is incarnation: that one’s daily life may become in the present a source for joy as a result of one’s hope for the eternal. Paul and Silas sang in prison; there is heaven. The early Christians wanted to be martyred. How can you defeat such an enemy? To have inner peace is to take joy in your proximate harm because it is your ultimate benefit, and therefore only beneficial; furthermore it is to take joy in your proximate benefit not because it is your proximate benefit, but only because it is your ultimate benefit.

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