Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor of the Lutheran Church and also a vehement critic of Hitler and Nazism – and that would eventually cause his arrest and death. From prison, he wrote that a Christian must live today as if there were no God. Each person must assume responsibility for the course of their life. Regardless of how radical and brave Bonhoeffer was, the Christian tradition of spirituality suggests the exact opposite of what he proposes – we should act as if God really exists and Christ is true, even if at times he seems absent. In fact, for those whose faith is dim or weak this is the advice that is given and it is called an Act of Faith. One of the great spiritual giants, Saint Teresa of Avila, had decades of not feeling any sense of the presence of God, and yet she lived her life to the reality of revealed truth. She continued to hold onto the revelation Christ given to the whole Church, for she realised that that our personal feelings could betray us. Just because ‘I’ feel Christ is absent does not mean he is. Of course, the thing that Teresa understood is that Christ himself entered into that dark place of nothingness, “My God my God, why have you abandoned me” – which oddly is a prayer addressed to God who had gone missing!
So each of us, regardless of how the world affects us or events and circumstances and our health get us down, we should strive as being subjects to the love that awaits us, and in the knowledge that this love, loves even us. Again, we may not feel it, but we van live in that certainty of truth known and experienced by millions. So in this process we are shaping our hearts and soul. We entrust ourselves to this difficult yet inescapable ‘if there were a God’, in which we will become ever more aware that this statement “if” is the only reality for here and now and into eternity. We will know profoundly and lastingly why Christianity is still necessary today as the genuine good news by which we are redeemed. For God is certainly by our side and with us – even if from time to time we do not feel it or doubt it.