It’s been since October of last year that I’ve written here. I think the reason is mainly because I’ve felt I had nothing to write. I have, in a sense, taken the last 6 months off from truly wrestling with faith in God. I still think about it daily, but I reached a point where I didn’t even want to try anymore.
I had a conversation last night with a good friend. Got to dump some of my more recent thoughts, which felt good, and got me thinking about trying to think about it all more and write about it, as I find that writing it helps me process it (hence the name of the title of my blog). So I am going to dump out a bunch of thoughts in this post.
Yesterday, for the first time in a while, I read some of the Bible. I read John 2:13 through the end of chapter 3. I prayed for a while before I read, asking God to help me, or show up somehow, or to make what I read mean something to me. And, in like-fashion for me, nothing helpful came of it. In fact, I finished being more frustrated. One thing that really stuck out to me was 2:18-20:
The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do you show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?”
Perhaps things were very different with the culture of the time in terms of communication back when this conversation might have happened. But one thing our culture highly values today is when people answer questions clearly and directly. In context, Jesus had come into the temple and was really upset at what he saw going on, and he overturned the money changer’s tables and drove them out. At this point, curious Jews confronted Jesus and wanted to know what was happening. Jesus’ answer was not clear at all, and that is made evident by how they responded to Jesus’ answer. Why wasn’t Jesus just clear with them? Sure, we can make sense of this 2000 years later, but the Jews who questioned him at the time had no idea, and they were the most important audience at the time.
That got me thinking and recalling that there are a great number of times that Jesus either answered questions, or spoke to people in cryptic ways. As God, coming to earth as a man with the goal of salvation for humanity whom God supposedly loves all, why was he not precise and clear with us?
Having spent many years at Bethlehem Baptist Church during and after college, I couldn’t help but be surrounded with talks and teaching on Calvinism and election. As much as I wish I could not think about it, I still do from time to time. I sometimes wonder if I am hitting a wall with God. I want to believe, but he simply won’t let me, because he hasn’t chosen me.
We as humans sometimes strive so hard to find reasons for the ways things are, or for why difficult things happen. We think that knowing the reason will bring resolve. That is clearly what I am doing here when I have these thoughts. For years I have been praying, reading, studying, and begging God for help, and I feel as if nothing has happened. It seems like it has been as helpful as praying to a brick wall. In my personal reality, based on my personal evidence and attempts, there simply is nothing there – there is no God (at least none that cares to have any relationship of any kind with me).
I’m not saying that that’s what I believe necessarily, but that is what my reality feels like. It is uncomfortable, and I hate it. I have never been more discontent with where I’m at spiritually. So when wondering why I’m in the state that I’m in, I can’t help but sometimes think that there are perhaps only two options: Either God exists but has purposefully decided that I am not one of his chosen – he’s locked the door on me, or there is no God (of the Bible at least).
So what do I do with all of this? I really don’t know. Many of my Christian friends would say that I’ve given God a really good try. Some have even told me that if they were in my shoes, they may have given up on it well before the point I’m at. I seem to have far better personal evidence and experience that the God of the Bible does not exist. Or perhaps he does exist, but clearly doesn’t care about me at all. How much longer do I try? At what point should I feel comfortable with giving up? What else should I do?
I really can’t find anyone else that is or has been in a really similar position as me, which is difficult. Sure, some people have gone through times of doubt, but everyone that I’ve talked to seemed to have a much more “minor case” than this.
There’s something in me that keeps causing me to not give up. Most Christians I talk to tell me that’s God. Other people will say that it’s due to my growing up in the church and in Christianity, and that the idea of leaving that is naturally going to be uncomfortable, especially something that teaches that you will burn in hell if you don’t believe in it. What do I think it is? I honestly don’t know.
So there it is. As always, I’d be interested to hear any thoughts any of you who have read this might have.