“You’ll be fine.”
Fine. A word that almost always implies the exact opposite of its definition.
Most of us come from cultures where if you are not ‘fine,’ you keep it to yourself. Actually being healthy is far less important than appearing healthy. And if not healthy, then ‘fine.’ “Soldier on” and “Pull yourself together” are often the most empathetic pieces of advice we’re offered. We’re trained to believe that ‘fine’ is our default setting, and if we’re not fine, then we need to muster our courage and/or self-delusion in order to restore our fineness.
But the truth is, the default of humanity is not physical, mental, and emotional health. The default of humanity is not even ‘fine’; the true default setting of humanity is depression, anger, and volatility. It is the propensity to hurt others, both accidentally and intentionally, and to act from our own festering wounds.
The default setting of humanity is depravity.
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a five-point, T.U.L.I.P.-picking Calvinist, but I’m on board with Total Depravity. I see it daily in the news, in my fellow seminary students, in my friends and my family, and especially myself. I see it in the in the kindest, most selfless people I know who sometimes bristle defensively and act maliciously.
The reality of total depravity has been weighing on me a lot lately. Between all of the geopolitical calamity of this summer and the “typical” heartache that comes with being human, I’ve been overwhelmed. Yet in the last week God has been reminding me of something that injects hope into my faltering spirit. He’s been reminding me that although the default setting of the human heart is depravity, the default setting of his heart is redemption.
I am not fine; neither are you, and neither is our world. We are egregiously far from fine. But we are not beyond our Father’s reach. He is, was, and always will be a redeemer, and nothing – not ISIS, not Boko Haram, not Hamas or the IDF, and certainly not my own depravity – can change that.