“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised (Hebrews 6:10-12).”
One man is on his way down, while the other seems to be searching for a way up. Somewhere in the middle, they meet.
In an episode of the popular medical series “House”, the show’s namesake encounters a drunken priest in his hospital’s emergency room. Daniel Beeson is a priest who is seeing hallucinations, and in subsequent scenes, has all kinds of other symptoms which Dr. House and his team wrestle with in order to determine the patient’s root problem.
The right reverend Beeson isn’t very holy. He has dumped God because he was treated badly by the church when he was falsely accused of immorality by a teenager. House, who is pretty godless, is intrigued by this unbelieving priest and begins to discuss matters of faith with him.
One discussion centers around the issue of why people suffer. Beeson says to House, “God wants life to have meaning, life’s meaningless without free will. With free will there’s always suffering, so God wants suffering. I got tired of that argument by the time I even finished saying it. And even if I bought that, what the hell is God doing? Just the big stuff? The acts of God, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the random killings of millions of innocent people. We better damn pray.”
House is amazed by a man of the cloth having this kind of attitude. Somehow though, House doubts Beeson is completely gone spiritually. “So If I happen to cure you, what happens then? You start thinking that God was working through me, that this is some sort of a miracle”?, House asks the priest.
Beeson tells House that his faith is gone for good. But House can’t figure out why a man who doesn’t believe in God anymore can still seek to make a living as a minister. Beeson explains, “I’ve been with the Church my entire adult life. It’s my only marketable skill.” House thinks this is a smokescreen. He replies, “I detect the stink of leftover faith.”
This remark leads Beeson to probe House’s own belief system. “You want to talk about hypocrisy, what about you? You act like you don’t care about anyone, but here you are saving lives”, retorts the priest. House, who is one of the world’s foremost curmudgeons, blows him off. “Solving puzzles. Saving lives is just collateral damage”, replies the noted doctor. Says Beeson, “Yeah, nice try. I don’t think you’re looking for someone to prove you right, I think you’re looking for someone to prove you wrong, to give you hope. You want to believe, don’t you?”
The Bible says that Christians who have fallen away from their intitial faith in Christ hold Jesus up to public disgrace (Hebrews 6:4-6). So it would seem with backslidden priest Daniel Beeson. The whole staff knows he is a drunken reprobate. But somewhere in there Daniel is fighting for his faith. God sees that. So does House. And House, who loves puzzles, is interested. God is using and blessing Daniel in that hospital despite himself.
The priest could care less about God using him in his present suffering, but even in his fallen away condition, it’s happening. What he doesn’t know when he enters the hospital is that House is already questioning, wondering why his apostate Jewish boss would go through the trouble of a religious ceremony for her newly adopted infant. Enter Daniel Beeson stage left to help him think even further about the things of God.
What a great, gracious and just God we have. God doesn’t forget people of true faith even when they fall away. He keeps His promises and He still uses them, keeping them a part of His eternal plan.
Down deep Daniel Beeson wanted to follow his high priest Jesus into the sanctuary forever (Hebrews 6:19-20). He still has some aroma of hope in his heart. The last we see of the priest, he is in his hospital bed offering forgiveness to the boy who had accused him. Beeson is on his way back to physical health as well.
We may feel as if living our lives is akin to being on the deck of a ship in a huge storm. We are rocking and rolling with the boat. Our heads are dizzy and confused, our bodies are exhausted, our emotions are a mess and our spirits are frayed at the edges. Yet, as Matthew Henry says, our ship has a destination: eternity. It also has an anchor: hope in the saving work and ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ.
Our need in our suffering is to encourage ourselves in this hope.