Joe looked at his brother Hank and said very directly, “What will it take for you to start to really believe in God?” The two men were in a hospital room. Hank, the older of the two, was the patient. He had had a pretty serious heart attack a few days before. Joe, younger by six years, had been faithfully visiting him every day since Hank came in.
The two brothers were having a conversation about faith. This wasn’t something that they often did, but the topic came up when Hank started speaking about some of the things in his life that he was regretting. (Lying in a bed in the Cardiac Care Unit can really give a person the time to think and be reflective.) Hank was saying that he had made a mess of his life and that he wished he could do some things over again. There was his divorce of three years ago, along with his problem with alcohol, which led to many other complications and eventually destroyed his marriage. Then there was the fact that he really lost his faith and hadn’t been to church in many years.
Joe was trying to tell him that maybe this experience (the heart attack) was a wake up call for him, and that it was a positive thing that Hank was even willing to talk about this stuff. That had never happened before.
Then Joe tried to share with his brother some of his own experiences on his journey of faith. If Hank will remember, Joe’s life had been in chaos several years ago. Joe said that on a particularly difficult day, he had decided to take a long walk by himself and take stock of all the things that were going wrong in his life. He asked himself, “What were some of the things that had changed.” And the first thing that came to mind was that when he first started to experience difficulties he got mad at God and stopped going to church. For him it was as plain as the nose on his face. He started back to church and since then it has given him the grounding to help put the pieces of his life back together again.
“Maybe God is trying to break through into your life too,” Joe said to his brother. “You can lay in that bed and feel bad about yourself, or you can turn back to God and let Him help you. Believe it or not, there’s a lot to be grateful for. The docs are saying that you’ll make a good recovery. This experience is not about regret, it is about beginning again. It’s about acknowledging that you are not in control. And you’ve been introduced to the notion of death. But, believe it or not, there’s a certain freedom in knowing these things. So start looking at things differently. Ask God to give you a new sense of perspective. I think that God is really hitting you over the head right now and telling you that he wants to help you. Now is a great time to turn back to your faith.”
What does Naaman say in the first reading? “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except Israel.” He became convinced that God was real because of the way things ended up playing out in his life. He started to connect the dots and see the patterns. Joe did the same. He saw what had gone missing in his life and he went back to it—-or discovered it again. And it made all the difference for his future. So, the question that Joe asks his brother we need to ask ourselves: “What will it take for you to really believe in God.
Is God trying to break through in your life? Is He saying to you, “Stop trying to arrange things so that you don’t have to rely on me.”
Don’t be lukewarm or indifferent to this God who loves you so much and wants to be a part of you. Connect the dots. See the patterns. Become convinced that God is real!