My pastor recently mentioned fatalism in a Sunday morning message. It caused me to look the word up:
Fatalism: Acceptance of the belief that all events are predetermined and inevitable.This definition really challenges me because it too closely tracks with something I have often called faith. In this definition my 'que sera, sera' attitude is revealed as a fatalistic view of life and my heart is laid bare having not really exercised faith in God but having given in to this dark thinking. One way that fatalism reveals itself in my heart is when I don't pray thinking that if God wants it to be He will make it happen and I really don't have a part.
I think that some of this thinking began 11 years ago when my first wife died. I prayed for her healing for four years and, in the end, she died - and ultimately my prayers were seemingly unanswered. This event brought a sickness into my heart ... part of me gave up the fight ... life became difficult and my prayer life became more about the sovereignty of God (my spin on fatalism) and the power of God. I found myself talking to God in terms where there was no risk.
In 1999 I was diagnosed with an arthritic condition that caused me to be somewhat disabled activity-wise ... my heart died a little more. A few years later my new wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis - my heart once again sank and this fatalistic 'Sovereignty of God' view gained more control of me.
So what exactly is the difference between true faith in God's sovereignty and a fatalistic view. I think that we can find the answer in the outcome of each. In essence faith causes us to press in, seek, and overcome - fatalism causes us to give up. Faith inspires hope in tomorrow while fatalism offers only fear. Faith affirms God's love for us ... fatalism embraces the worst of our fears.
Fatalism is very subtle because it can mask itself in very religious ways. We can mistake a sort of spiritual paralysis as "waiting on the Lord". We can be immobilized by fear and think that we are living in dependence on God ... all the while not taking risks ... not stepping out in faith ... thinking that God will move when even when our hearts are dark with fatalism. You know, when our faith is focused on the whole of God - His sovereignty, His Power and His Love - we can have a healthy faith. When we focus on one aspect of God, like His sovereignty, we develop an unhealthy faith. Our challenge today is to pray ... pray that our hearts would be free of fatalism and filled with faith.