God delights in our finitude: he is not embarrassed or shocked by our creatureliness. Since he is not apologetic about it, we should stop apologizing for it ourselves.
Creaturely finitude is less an idea we discover and more of a reality we run into. All of us bounce between the illusion that we are in control and the world’s demonstration that we are not. Whether through tragedy or simply as the result of aging, we all are repeatedly reminded that we are fragile and dependent creatures. What we do matters, and we can be resilient. We can and do change things. But when we suppose that we can control all our circumstances, we soon find that we can’t. We don’t say the words, but we live as though the weight of the world were on our own shoulders. And it exhausts us. Behind the patient grin on our faces we hide a lingering rage about the endless demands that must be met, unrealized dreams, and relational disappointments.
The Crucial Question
Here we face a crucial question: Does this dissatisfaction always mean that we have sinned, or is something else going on? Are we required to overcome these perceived shortcomings? Some treat these limitations as indicating a moral deficiency or as an obstacle in a competition that can and should be conquered. One common response in the West is to seek self-improvement through greater organization in our lives. We skim the internet for short articles on time management, since we long ago gave up on reading whole books. Sometimes we decide to get up earlier or stay up later, hoping to add another hour or two of productivity to our lives. Since we can’t put more hours into the day, we try to change ourselves. We try to do more, be more. Normally at this point in the story we draw attention to how much TV the average American watches, how much time is lost consuming mindless digital content and games. But what if our problem is not time management? What if rather than serving as the cause of our problems, the draw of mind-numbing screen time was a sign of a deeper malady? Maybe such escapism reveals a sickness in our souls that we have been neglecting. And rather than just being a problem for the “world” out there, these are signs to which Christians should also pay attention. I think we have a massive problem, but it is not a time-management issue. It is a theological and pastoral problem.