I made it to the end, word for word. Reading your plea makes me feel what I believe God is feeling as well. It is for seeking soul like you, Elizabeth, that God sent His one and only Son, so He is made accessible by a simple faith. I really feel for you, when I was an unbeliever, I had the same thoughts too, even came across philosophical articles by Albert Camus (I think), pondering suicide as a legitimate and reasonable option if there’s no God, death is the ultimate suffering. I’m not emotionally suicidal though, but mentally I bought into the fact that suicidal is so viable intellectually, it made sense. Until I met God of course.
I’m very tempted at this point to jump immediately into each questions you posed, as they are questions common to most Christians, though I find it is suppressed by most. (I’m from the discipleship ministry, leading small group leaders)
I believe your situation requires more than one round of question-answer session in a discussion board like this, and you’ll need encouraging believer friends around you to be there to edify your faith and hear your hearts out as representatives of God throughout your spiritual peaks and valleys.
I think the most important point I believe you may need to know is our intrinsic worth in God. I heard Ravi pound this home a lot throughout his talks. This intrinsic worth is unique only to the Judeo-Christian worldview, as we are made in His image, and we are so priceless to God, that He sent His only Son to redeem us.
But to not be dismissive of your questions, let me try answer them as briefly as possible.
“Why would God allow children to die in hospitals with terrible cancers?”
In death, the Christian can find hope that suffering is not what was and not what will be. There is solace in knowing that there is something way more eternally beautiful awaiting us that will overwhelm the darkest suffering of death. And it’s a guaranteed promise. No other alternative view can offer anything close to this.
“How do I know God isn’t just a delusion of my mind because I need a crutch?”
Whether you need a crutch or not, God is equally real and has empirically verified himself through Jesus (which you should be familiar from the Case for Christ book). Jesus wasn’t just a delusional madman thinking himself as a prophet, He did make bold claims, but He backed it up with the promise of resurrection, which is something concrete to be easily used to disprove His divine claim by His opposition, only to then fulfilling it by rising from the dead. Only the Christian God provided such an empirical verification, no other came close…
“Why was God so evident in the Bible and never showing himself today?
If he was real it seems like he would speak to us like he did to people in the Bible.”
The scholars termed this issue the Hiddenness of God. God wasn’t always so evident in all the books of the Bible, take for example the book of Esther, Songs, Ecclesiastes. In fact only Moses is recorded as meeting God face to face, the whole Jewish community always feared meeting God face to face forthrightly will result in death, and always bowed their face to the ground to avoid direct contact. But yes, you aren’t wrong as well, as there are many recorded divine encounters, albeit not necessarily direct face-to-face.
Personally, I believe even though God is not physically apparent (except for Jesus) these days, it doesn’t mean God is not seekable. God has always been present, in fact his very 3rd person of His 1 triunal being, the Holy Spirit, is dwelling in all believer’s body. It is us who has difficulty acknowledging this presence, but all who seek, shall find.
But here is some clue to those seeking: Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love … God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:8, 16) As believers, we have to live in love, and as unbelievers, we are attracted by the love of believers, and God will be found by seekers through love, not by mere reasoning or miracles or prophecies (1 Cor 13:2).
Case for this: look at how much miracles and God’s presence in the cloud and fire pillars throughout Israel’s biblical history, yet He is still taken for granted and they deviated to idolatry. But in the book of Esther, where God doesn’t have to make a grand entrance at all, but is apparent through the obedience of Esther and Mordecai’s love for His people.
Acts 2:46-47 MSG
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
As you can see in the early church, people can see/feel God through the love, joy, and unity shared amongst believers. Mind you, this was during a time of heavy persecution of the faith. It is not without its cost to consider, esp after believing for so long as a Jew that you have the perfect religion in Judaism. So I believe, rather than miraculous sightings, this is God’s favorite avenue to interact with us through believers ministering to one another in love. By this, everyone will know we are His disciple, if we love one another. (John 13:35)
But, I’m not trying to discount your question and God’s ability to intervene in extraordinary ways. So many muslim converts can attest to this, as it is so hard for us to reach out to them, due to its brutal consequences for leaving the faith. God is appearing to them via dreams and visions personally. I’m from Indonesia, and I know one of them personally who even met Jesus while praying the night before he becomes a hajj, while in Mecca, and came back from the pilgrimage as a convert. He is now ministering zealously as a pastor.
Sorry, I ended up with something so long, Elizabeth. To conclude my post, let me summarize what you should do next, after knowing what you know now:
- Please be a good exegete, to not just read, but study the bible diligently and consistently. I find it is the best way for you to prepare room for God to interact with you. Not just a devotional time, but a devoted time, where there is no noise or distractions to choke the Word you are reading. If you earnestly seek Him, His love letter is the best place to start, to get to know Him, so you can recognize Him when He does, and will, meet you where you are.
- Please find a close fellowship of believers to walk through your faith journey, to keep it more sustainable. No amount of reasoning can/should replace this.
I believe you will find God is not so hidden to you personally after all. And we are always here to help you with your questions anytime too, Elizabeth. Hope you feel better and edified.
Blessings and love in Christ,