Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) “was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. Dostoevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. A Slavophile, nationalist and monarchist, he criticized the bourgeois, pre-materialist West and nihilism in many of his works” (Christian Ethereal Classics Library).
Dostoevsky was a devout Christian who struggled with some aspects of his faith, and who struggled at times to practice what he preached. And yet, despite his shortcomings, he was an unusually insightful man whose faith in Christ was repeatedly tested in the crucible of suffering. Consider, for example, the following quote from his classic novel, The Possessed:
“The one essential condition of human existence is that man should always be able to bow down before something infinitely great. If men are deprived of the infinitely great, they will not go on living and will die of despair. The Infinite and the Eternal are as essential for man as the little planet on which he dwells.”
Wow. This quote would move me even if it was written by one who had never suffered, but given the extent of suffering in Dostoevsky’s life, it moves me all the more. He came to this point of view, because he literally faced death and came to see that the fundamental element of true life is one’s relationship to God. Without God, there is no life, no purpose, no morality, no anything. We may suppress and deny this truth, but every human heart knows it to be true.
God is, and we desperately need him. Without the infinitely great we have no hope, for life itself implodes and disappears like a vapor. But with the infinitely great comes infinite hope, for life is the relational knowledge of God. As Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
I pray that we will reflect today on the utter necessity of God in our lives, and I pray that by his grace in Christ Jesus we would step toward him rather than away from him. May he fill our hearts to the brim with love and knowledge of him.