Despairing of God?

April 7, 2020 by Rev. Jacques Nel

I don’t know where I’m coming from. I don’t know where I’m going too.


That more or less sums up how millions of people feel at this very moment. How is it then possible that there is at least still the appearance that people are happy? Not knowing where you are coming from? Not knowing where you are going too? That is a disturbing thought. So why be joyous? Why laugh? No wonder that some of the philosophers of the last century concluded that the human condition is best summed up as a feeling of despair.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus was a French Algerian who wrote about that spirit of despair. His writings are vivid existential descriptions of life in a tortured land. Everything is pervaded by a sense that human existence is meaningless. The characters in his books all make this discovery. Confronted with life’s borderline situations they discover death is waiting for all of us. Will that not cancel out whatever meaning our lives momentarily had? Looking into this void Camus struggled with the question whether life is at all worth the effort? He saw a rising ‘angst’ about the finiteness of existence at the very core of our being. Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for literature but did he ever find a way out of his despair?

Camus was barely forty years old when he died in a motor car accident. He somewhat surprisingly wrote a prayer that was found forty years later amongst his letters:

"God we are lonely...
When will the day come of my last journey?
The day the ship departs, the ship that is not coming back,
You will see me onboard that ship:
A human being has but little luggage, nearly naked...
The Lord is my shelter and my strength
He will save you from the fowler’s snare and the deadly pestilence
You need not fear the terror of the night
Nor the arrow that flies by day
Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
Nor the plague that destroys at midday
Lord feel sorry for me
Turn to me
Hear me Lord

Lord feel sorry for those who love!
Am I calling on you Lord?
I am not sure
But help me, help me, I have need for help for me.
Show mercy, and agree to help me."

Answer to the human condition

Camus in my opinion fairly accurately described the human condition in his literary works. In this letter found later he was hinting at the answer. Paul writes that in Christ the mystery has now been revealed to us. In Christ Jesus we encounter God’s mercy and love. Before that ship departs let us be clear about this. I know where I am coming from. I know where I am going too. Is it not strange that I am so sad?

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