My Faith Is Almost Gone, Please Help

(Elizabeth Hall) #1

This is going to be a long post and I don’t expect anyone to want to read it but I desperately need help. I need to explain a little bit about my situation so please bare with me.

I was born and raised in a Christian home but I never really found God for myself. I started honestly seeking God when I was an adult after I started to have horrible anxiety attacks, scared to death that there was no God and when I die I will cease to exist. This fear actually sent me to the hospital, where I had the worst night of my life being monitored so I would not commit suicide, as the anxiety and depression made me so insane that I wanted to just end it. I cried out to God for help and never got a response.

Once I got home and got on medication to help my anxiety I started to try to find evidence for God. I read books such as “The Case For Christ” watched videos of Ravi Zacharias’ sermons or William Lane Craig’s talks, I desperately wanted to convince myself God was real…I wanted more than anything for him to be real.

For a while I was convinced. It was so amazing to feel like I actually had a purpose in life and there was a God who was there and loved me, but soon as questions began to arise my faith began to crumble.

Had questions like:

“Why would God allow children to die in hospitals with terrible cancers?” Or “How do I know God isn’t just a delusion of my mind because I need a crutch?” Or “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.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is I am losing my faith in God even though I don’t want to. I’m not sure how I can hang on anymore. I desperately want to believe there is a good God out there but I just don’t see him besides in Bible stories, which I cannot verify are even true. ( A talking donkey and a woman being turned to salt? That doesn’t sound realistic. )

I just wish God would speak to me or reveal Himself. My faith is weary and I’m tried of crying out to Him in Jesus’ name every night asking for Him to come into my life, crying in heartbreak when I get no responce. I feel nothing and I am so close to just giving up even though I don’t want to. When my faith is this tired I just don’t know how to hold on. Please, can someone give me some encouragement…something, anything.

If you made it to the end thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

19 Likes
(Roy Sujanto) #2

Hi Elizabeth,

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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,
Roy

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(Brian Pearson) #3

My heart goes out to you. I believe a lot of people go through the same situation. I see hope and love in your favor. I believe that your faith is stronger than you believe. I am reminded of the ole saying “The teacher is silent during the test”. We are called to be a vessel. The truth is in you, it’s our way of picking up our cross and carrying it. God is evident in your life by the way you express compassion in your questions. His love is perfect. I believe we can’t fully understand how good it is because we judge His love by the way we love. I can see that you read the Bible and would like to ask that you read 1st Corinthians 13. The love chapter, when you read it, read it as the love you are to give and not just receive, that was a great help to me in my time of questioning. As God’s vessels we each carry His light, wether well studied scholars or white collar workers hauling off the trash, we each have the ability to touch a life with His message His invitation. You have the ability to relate to someone differently than I do and what seems like your struggle is the exact thing that person will need to hear to accept the truth of the gospel. We are all called to be His diciples, this is how His Word is spread to all nations, it’s through you and I together through our ability help each other along the way. God bless you on your journey

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(Kerron Joseph) #4

Hi Elizabeth, I also read till the end and I firstly want to appreciate your honesty and bravery in saying all that you have and also your strength in having pushed beyond your feelings to where you are now.

As to the specific answers to the concerns you raised I think their are alot of better worded resources than I can sum up on this platform so I’d advise you to look at them when you have time, but to answer the cry of your heart to see God more in your life, I would say say the following.

Look back at your life. Often we focus on all the things we wish to see or to the pain of the past and this can sometimes cloud perception of whether or not God is active in our life. I would also ask you to find people who you can speak to that can give you an outside perspective. Sometimes we just can’t see what God is doing because we’re too close to the situation. I’m often surprised at things I count as trivial only for someone to approach me and tell me what a bless it is to me. Sometimes you just need that outside look at your life.

But again I admire your strength and your pursuit of God. I would also love for God to be less hidden as you said but I’ve learn to listen to his words, not just vocally or in the bible but in all things. The evil of the world is great, but the world is so beautiful. I’ll will indeed be praying for your continued strength

God bless!

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(C Rhodes) #5

@Zenshii. I would like to add my $2.50. Be brave it’s wordy. :grinning:

You are to be commended for sharing your fight. I love that you are not willing to be dissuaded before utilizing all possible methods of resistance. Your plea seems to reveal an awareness of a relationship that you instinctively know has great value. Maybe the hows or whys escape you at this time, but your actions speak of a certainty you desperately want to hold on to. Tie a knot baby girl and hold on!

I think wanting to believe is perhaps half the battle. That much you have already won. I would begin to dissect what role Feelings should play. This is a place I currently occupy as well. What’s feelings have to do with it? Or better yet, what role should I allow feelings to play?

When I examine my disappointments or even my joys; I am challenged to discover why the feelings are more legitimate to me, then GOD. I find that my feelings can be emotional traps. Traps prompted by what is limited within me or my community.

I am also discovering that my feelings are lodged in the assumptions of my environment and society. In other words, I allow those around me to establish what the face of happiness, completeness, heartbreak, and brokenness looks or feels like. For me, that is an imbalance in social or religious assimilation. The desire to fit into my village has begun to work against my greater good. Maybe that’s why some become hermits.

The question of why GOD does not speak as He did in the Scriptures should prompt a second question. Who said He does not speak? A talking donkey moment is not the standard indicator of the presence of GOD any less than your waking this morning. Your relationship with GOD is reliant upon customization unique to who you are or what you need. The miracle of both events is astonishing, it is just our society’s tendency to take some things for granted which masks the miracle you experience every waking day.

Life seems devoid of the evidence of GOD? Yet we enjoy the miracle of intellectual debate and questions. Free will one more thing we take for granted.

We have a full range of the emotional scale, feelings, desires, tears of heartache, the joy of laughter; but we act as if these things are a given; some to be rejected others to be embraced.

We have a physical body which possesses “Borg” like qualities. Even after all these decades we still can’t say what came first. The egg or the chicken. But we assume our physical bodies are an unavoidable evolutionary biological occurrence. We are arrogant in this assumption. So, it is a bad thing to be born with any type of disability. Which is our way of saying if we don’t possess full physical range then we are broken and diminutive.

Bad times may seem to indicate there is no GOD or that such a GOD is unjust. Again that highlights human tendency. Life assumes the value we declare it does. And that value often has a physical premise. We all do this but we are wrong to do so. Such consideration will offer unintended obstructions. That often forces us into living far beneath our privilege.

Having such conclusions means there are some experiences we believe we should not be subject to and it is the job of GOD to orchestrate control over such events to ensure the joy of those He loves. That would be okay if living on earth was all the living to be known. Or if possessing this physical body is all there is to have. Or even if time were irreversible, unchangeable, and synchronized across all of creation. But what we hold as legitimate and valuable often does not begin to illuminate the vibrancy of true living.

My faith in GOD is the only way I ‘leap-frog’ over the rationale of my humanity. Sin continues to diminish our lives but my confidence in the Lord catapults me over the barriers. To that end, everything here. Every experience. Every tear, every joyous smile is but a tool in GOD’s hand to lift me up. That I currently live within a physical shell, condemned to decay because of sin, just means I feel the aches keenly. But I feel the comfort just as keenly. Hold on and insist on trusting GOD, feelings have a place but they are no replacement for GOD. And without reservation let me add, that’s the best crutch anyone could have.

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(Elizabeth Hall) #6

@RoySujanto First of all Roy, I wanted to say thank you very much for reading my entire post. I wanted to say I read yours as well and I was surprised with how understanding and thorough you were. Honestly it makes me feel good to hear that you were an unbeliever and you came to Christ. That really gives me hope.

I wanted to thank you for answering my questions as well, I didn’t expect them to get answered nessisarily and that really helped me a lot. Questions really hurt my faith at times and they can be tough for me as they stay in my mind and poke at me until I crack and say “Well, that’s it…there must be no God.” Which is silly I know. But with someone who has anxiety it feels very real.

Thank you again Roy and I would like to come back to your message when I am feeling scared again. Thank you for replying in such a loving and understanding way. You have helped me very much and thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening to me and writing up a thorough reply just to help me. I feel very loved and honestly you doing this does show God’s love through you I feel. Thank you for listening to me and being a friend when I needed that most.

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(Elizabeth Hall) #7

@Foots7803 Brian that part about “The teacher is silent during the test” really spoke to me as I never thought of it like that. Thank you so much for the encouragement and understanding. I read 1 Corinthians 13 and it was very beautiful. I have read some of it before but it really helped to study it while I am going through troubles. You are very knowledgeable and reading what you had to say helped me feel much more confident about God’s existence and love. Thank you for listening to me and taking the time to reply.

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(Elizabeth Hall) #8

@Lt_lionhearT Hello Kerron, thank you so much for saying I was brave and honest. I am humbled and I feel so grateful that you read my entire post. In just that first paragraph you wrote I felt so much kindness and understanding, thank you.

Yes, sorry the questions I wrote weren’t nessisarly there to be answered, I just was giving examples of questions that I would struggle with. But yes I try my best to find good sources to help me out with questions like these. Thank you so much for the advice.

The encouragement you gave really helped me feel better. I am still struggling but I feel like I can get through this. I will try to talk to another Christian I trust about my life and find a different perspective in it as that sounds like a great idea.

Thank you again so much for your help and I am very grateful you read my post.

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(Elizabeth Hall) #9

@cer7 Hello C Rhodes,

Honestly I’m glad it is wordy. The more wordy the better for me. And I am honored you read my post as it was already long itself.

Wow thank you for that enthusiasm and encouragement. I honestly felt lost but hearing you say that I have been doing well so far encourages me. I know for sure that my doubts and fears are all feelings-based. Which is more painful and difficult than factual ones. Sometimes my feelings are much too powerful…I feel that somewhat comes from being female and also a sensitive person.

The comment about the miracle of waking up in the morning was amazing…I never thought about it that way at all and that was a huge encouragement to me…your post has been amazing so far and I am going to save this to read over and study. You are extremely intelligent both philosophically and spiritually. Wow!!! Some of these things I never thought of and I took for granted as well! Like how you said we have intelligence to question, tears to cry ect!!!

You’re also right in I should remember if God does exist this life is not the end. So when troubles face us we shouldn’t be too discouraged as this is a broken world…it is so hard to remember that though sometimes.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and motivations with me as I cannot tell you how much I needed them. Your faith is very strong and I admire that…and also envy you to a degree. You have really touched me today and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am. Thank you for being a light in my darkness.

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(C Rhodes) #10

Thank you for such kind words. But as my prayer was for words the Lord wanted to share with you, I won’t take credit for them. I am alright with being a witness for the Lord because there is no way I don’t walk away with my own portion of His amazing grace and character ‘shineola’. :blush: I can see clearly by the words the Lord gave me that you are very, very precious to Him. I will settle for just being considered one of His message takers and relayers. It is an honor and joy to be in fellowship with you. Hold on!

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(Keldon Scott (Kel)) #11

So glad you took time to share your doubt, wonder, concerns, questions @Zenshii. I love connect. Please know that you have friends here. I read your entire post. Please know that the Lord cares about you and so do I. I just read all the heartfelt responses and the care that so many have here. The words of care are all Holy Spirit driven. Without the Holy Spirit leading I would be lost. I think the Lord made the connect forum and the RZIM ministry for you today - for this moment if for no other reason. Thank you for trusting the Holy Spirit working through each one who responded and through you. Your responses to each person were heartfelt. The Lord has blessed you today, but also each one of us through you today. He is with you. You are beloved and cared for. Your brother in Christ. Kel.

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(Kathleen) #12

Hi, @Zenshii. I can hear the pain your are experiencing in your words, and my heart breaks. Know that people are praying for you and are here to take your questions and struggles seriously. We may be limited in our interaction, but, thankfully, our God knows no bounds. :slight_smile:

I am curious about something, though. As I was reading your post (all of it! :grin:) I was curious about the anxiety attacks you experienced. You mentioned here (as well as in this post) that they were induced by the pressing fear that God doesn’t exist. But you also said that you didn’t start seeking God (even though you grew up in a Christian home) until you encountered that fear. What was your spiritual life like before you experienced that first attack?

I don’t wish to judge or analyse…just understand. :slight_smile:

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(Sieglinde) #13

I read till the end, I was invested in every word because I could feel your desperation. I love how the body of Christ works. @Zenshii, God is more present with you at this time than you realize. He loves you so much that He has pressed on the hearts of every individual that posted here to surround you with compassion, support, encouragement and wisdom. I just wanted you to know that we are —SINCERELY—praying for you. Keep knocking! Keep seeking! Don’t give up!
—7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock , and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” Matthew 7:7-8
And please keep us posted on your journey!

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(Chad Berry) #14

I’m with You Elizabeth! While I don’t struggle with the same set of questions. I’m in the same boat. It does sound and seem that Your faith is very strong! This is what the Church exists for. And this website I believe is here for. You are seeking Him and to be honest You have already found Him! This is is part of the process of being a Christian. It’s not really up to you/us meaning Christians in general to keep our faith alive. He’s able to keep us blameless and present us faultless before Him. Not sure the exact verse. Now to Him who is able to do above all that we ask or think… that I know is In Ephesians. Praying glad and encouraged to here someone struggles besides me! Love and build each other up… encourage one another as You see the day drawing near!

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(Jolene Laughlin) #15

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for sharing your struggles in such a real and vital way. I’ve gone through a period similar to this - I mean, there are always the occasional questions and doubts, but I think I know what you mean - the long, sustained, emotionally taxing struggle with disbelief and with accepting that God could be both good and sovereign when there are so many horrible things going on, seemingly unchecked, every day.

I just have a few thoughts to toss out, based on my own journey along this path.

  1. Very empathetic and compassionate people have a gift to work healing in the world around them.This demonstrates the love and character of God in their lives. But it also means that they feel the burdens of this world more deeply and acutely, especially if they allow themselves to dwell on the vast number of things that they are powerless to do anything about. In my experience with anxiety, I found that limiting my intake of bad news and horrific evil events helped a lot. We are connected to the rest of the world 24/7 and we are therefore constantly burdened with darkness and evil that is too much for one person to bear. I believe there is a CS Lewis quote saying that we are not responsible to take on the burden of fixing the entire world - but only the things that we can do to fix the part of it God has placed us in. Focus on the good that you can do in your sphere of influence and recognize that those are the things God has called you to do. He has other believers working in other parts of the world to address the other issues.

  2. As believers, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. God is working in the world, but not necessarily in the way that he did in the OT. He uses us to be the physical manifestation of his work. Each of us, as children of God, have a gift that enables us to do something to help establish God’s kingdom. The caution is that with our “connectivity” today, we are made aware of a scope of evil so vast that it’s easy to feel powerless and hopeless and view it as triumphant, when, in fact, God is working all the time.

  3. I once realized that one of the greatest men, the greatest prophets of all time, John the Baptist, was allowed to languish in prison and die by being beheaded when he was in his early 30s. To us, it would have made more sense for God to keep him working and preaching for a lifetime - but that wasn’t part of God’s plan. Even John had his doubts after that, sending people to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah or not. It seems like it didn’t look like it much from his jail cell and he needed affirmation. We are not alone in these questions.

  4. As believers, we are in a relationship with a person. Scripture, along with creeds and quotes and wisdom from Godly leaders are all how we get a better glimpse of the God we love and serve, but they are NOT God. He is a being that we can talk to, feel, and experience. I’m going to go out on a limb here and speak from personal experience - this is my opinion and not based on any theology or specific verses of the Bible - and say that God is big enough to handle your fears, your doubts, and even your anger. And sometimes, just quieting the voices/reason/wrestling in your mind and spending time in a quiet place, or in his creation, are enough to allow you to experience him personally and restore your faith, not because you’ve rationalized and made sense of it all, but because God’s presence is strong and real. There have been times when I’ve been angry, depressed, anxious, grieved - and little things happen that break into my consciousness as a demonstration of God’s presence. These have not been huge, world shaking things, or things that mean anything to anyone but me - but they have made God more real to me than anything else. I love the creation and animals and the outdoors, and many times, that is what God has used to reassure me of his goodness and his presence.

For example, I was in the midst of some dramatic life changes that were scary and overwhelming, and I felt very alone and weary. I didn’t see how it was all going to work out. I was struggling with doubt as well, because we do that when things go wrong. I had these frustrated and bitter thoughts running through my mind - “I don’t know if this is what you want. Why can’t you just make it easy to know what your will is?” I don’t even know if you are there - I don’t see where life is taking me, and I’m so tired." And on and on it went. There may or may not have been some yelling and crying directed at God.

In the midst of this angst and being on an emotional see-saw, I happened to look up at the sky. I saw, off in the distance, a half of a rainbow stretching across the sky above the mountains. I lived in a place where summer storms were rare, so any type of rainbow was somewhat unusual, and I gave a snort and a half-smile and said, “Is that your answer to me? Is that a promise that everything is going to work out all right?” and then, with a great deal of sarcasm, I said “Or is it half a promise? Why couldn’t it be a whole rainbow?” I got in my car and started heading home, still churning internally, and as I rounded the corner and looked back up, where there had been half a rainbow, there were now TWO complete rainbows stretching all the way across the sky.

I know rationally that there are scientific reasons behind all that - I had changed locations, and so on, but I just burst out laughing and crying at the same time. It was exactly as if God said “Okay, I’ll answer your question and raise you one. I’m here. I hear you. Now, let me handle your life.” That’s just one example - there have been others at different times and in different contexts, and I think these things do happen for everyone, just in ways that have meaning only to you. Those are the things that also build our faith. Reading the Word is vital to understanding the character of God, but moments where I see him actively working in creation and in my life are the things that give me strength to say “I don’t know why he let this thing happen - and it hurts, and I am angry and sad, but I know that he is good and perfect, and he has a reason and I trust him. I will understand it one day.”

I guess I would just tell you, in addition to all the great advice and outpouring of love in these other responses, to allow yourself to experience his presence in your life in the little things. He says he will reveal himself to us if we seek him, and he does. It just might not be in the ways you expect or notice right away.

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(Shane Kennett) #16

I loved reading your post. I feel your despair, I relate so much. I don’t have the right words, but I will share with you a thought I had the other night.

A Facebook friend posted a statement, ‘When the smile is fake, but the worship is real God will move!!’ This moves me and so I replied,

‘Before Christ ruled my life, I often felt like a clown putting on a show. Now that Christ is in my life, worship brings me joy. Being in the world, that’s a different matter. I completely relate to being a foreigner in a foreign, but knowing I must disciple in any way that I can. So, I put on a smile, as real as I can make, and worship Him with my full heart. God I love you, Holy Father, as I float on the buoy of your cross I feel how lite your yoke really is as it floats in the sea of despair, I cling to you Father, I cling to the cross you asked me to bare. Father God, had I known you were a life boat rather than a burden, I’d have swum too you long ago. Oh how I love you Father.’

God is love, we can count on Him, always. We cannot let the world culture influence us. We have to remember the world hates Christ, so be exertion the world hates us. Never fear, God loves us and answers prayers that are in His will.

With love,
Shane

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(Steven Kalinowski) #17

Hi Elizabeth
I thank you very much for your post. I can relate to what you said very much.
These are the type of questions that are not brought up too much.
I’ll try and give my viewpoint on them and hope it helps somewhat.
They are good questions and the answers are not easy and they may or probably are not satisfactory to many. For me they have been enough and hope they are for you too.

“Once I got home and got on medication to help my anxiety I started to try to find evidence for God. I read books such as “The Case For Christ” watched videos of Ravi Zacharias’ sermons or William Lane Craig’s talks, I desperately wanted to convince myself God was real…I wanted more than anything for him to be real.
For a while I was convinced.”

I have read many apologetical books by these authors and others.
For myself, I have found what they have said convincing. You say you were convinced. What changed?

You felt having a feeling of purpose but lost this feeling. But we know feelings come and go. We need something a bit more sure.
What would you mean by God being real?
To me for a start He is real or not whether I believe in Him or not. What I struggle with is my perspective of believing He is real or not. How do I decide He is in fact real? If I decide He is real, I need to accept this even if I feel absolutely nothing. (And there are many times I do feel nothing but am ok with that)

I’ll go through your questions. You may have heard these answers before but I hope you will weigh them in your mind nonetheless.

Hard questions like:

“Why would God allow children to die in hospitals with terrible cancers?” Or “How do I know God isn’t just a delusion of my mind because I need a crutch?” Or “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.

What you are asking is the problem of evil. This is the most difficult thing to face as a theist.
Why kids born with severe defects? Why human trafficking? Why slavery? Why torture and senseless wars in which men and women are forced to fight or be killed?

But what we are asking is a moral question. We are asking for fairness, goodness, mercy, kindness, and justice. But outside of a theistic view I don’t see a real basis for non-relativistic morality.
If there is such a thing as moral absolutes where an act is truly wrong anywhere at anytime I think it must be from a person who is absolutely good.
The alternative is atheism.
Can you accept atheism any better?
There is no real basis to bring up absolute morals in atheism although there are good atheists.
If atheism is true then evolution without anything to do with God is true. We must question then how do we even think, why is there any intelligence at all, why are things not even way more chaotic or random, why are there physical laws, how can a controlled big bang expansion create life? And so on…
This question is just as difficult to answer if atheism is true as accounting for evil on the theistic side.
The list goes on and on. So the only alternative is atheism… Do you wish to really embrace this? Does it really make more sense? It takes just as much faith or more I think to believe in atheism. I would actually say much more because it seems more implausible to me. But then real faith should be based on something. If mere naturalistic (no God involved) evolution exists, we are just a product of natural selection and nothing more. The genetics involved is atrounding. We would have no real value then. Can you live with this? Suffering and evil wouldn’t really matter on this view.

Could we be deluded? Sure. But the vast majority of the population believe in some kind of God or gods.
Very intelligent people are on both sides of the question. So I don’t think it is delusional.

A crutch? Why not? I think the people who really realize the precariousness of ourselves look for more. Personally I need God or I find it difficult to keep on living. Sure I could just keep busy, keep myself inundated by TV, internet or any other latest fad and just not think “from the outside”. But this seems like just faking it or just ignoring the reality of our fragility.
There is no meaning living this way in any case as I see it.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is I am losing my faith in God even though I don’t want to. I’m not sure how I can hang on anymore. I desperately want to believe there is a good God out there but I just don’t see him besides in Bible stories, which I cannot verify are even true. ( A talking donkey and a woman being turned to salt? That doesn’t sound realistic. )”

I just wish God would speak to me or reveal Himself. My faith is weary and I’m tried of crying out to Him in Jesus’ name every night asking for Him to come into my life, crying in heartbreak when I get no responce. I feel nothing and I am so close to just giving up even though I don’t want to. When my faith is this tired I just don’t know how to hold on. Please, can someone give me some encouragement…something, anything.

““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 Bible is about people at certain times. There is the 400 year silent period to begin with between the OT and the NT. Did God exist due ng this time?
Even in Jesus time… We sometimes think that there was miracle after miracle but they were exceptional. They weren’t all over the world. In the Psalms and other books in the OT people were asking the question of where is God or/and challenging Him to do something.
It comes down to …if He exists then can we run the world better than Him? Do we know more than Him? Do we know all possible outcomes of all actions at all times for instance? Can we even trust our own human nature even if we had the power? I, for one, know I would not trust myself. So if we don’t have all the power and knowledge and character…then we are less able to question Him and doubt Him on the problem of evil. I don’t like being in this position…but I am severely limited and handicapped in evaluating the awful situations I see.
Assuming He is good and powerful I will leave these questions to Him. There are some theodicies but not that satisfactory to our sense of fairness it would seem.

“I desperately want to believe there is a good God out there but I just don’t see him besides in Bible stories, which I cannot verify are even true. ( A talking donkey and a woman being turned to salt? That doesn’t sound realistic. )”

I guess I believe mostly on the resurrection and reading books like those of William Lane Craig or some good books on Christology.
Something like the ‘Crucified God’ book strikes me as being very rich and deep. I believe the life of Christ is historical. It makes sense to me and my condition. The extra biblical literature reinforces this historical belief. Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and others help in this too.
If Jesus rose from the dead, the rest is easily plausible for me. It may seem bizarre that a donkey could talk but maybe it is possible. If God set the universe in motion this would be trivial to do.

“I just wish God would speak to me or reveal Himself. My faith is weary and I’m tried of crying out to Him in Jesus’ name every night asking for Him to come into my life, crying in heartbreak when I get no responce. I feel nothing and I am so close to just giving up even though I don’t want to. When my faith is this tired I just don’t know how to hold on.”

I guess I would wish for the same thing. God speaking to me. But what would this entail? I want an actual voice? A special sign?
How would I know? What would I expect Him to say that is not already in the NT?
I believe He died on a cross for me and rose again. Paul says that because of this I am adopted, forgiven, redeemed, loved …what more can I ask ? And even more …this is all within a context of Christ and his disciples. It is not just a philosophy or belief system I dreamed up.
Why should I expect the more spectacular? Isn’t this my human nature but not the subtle ways of God? I would merely become dependent on the spectacular I think. If you accept the story of Moses it wasn’t long after the spectacular events that people’s belief disintegrated and they wanted to go back. I suspect we are the same way.
So where does this leave us? God supremely reveals Himself in the cross. This event is super pact with the profoundest depths and ideas of who we are and who God is. It is there that he reveals himself.
Of course this is really really difficult to see on our own. I rely a lot on better thinkers than myself. A book like “The Cross of Christ by John Stott” to me is shear profoundness. There are others that are just so meaningful that you come away dumbfounded. It’s like being overwhelmed and realizing again the depth of God and wondering why I didn’t see much of this in the first place.
I would also remind you that the greatest saints have mentioned a time of feeling extremely distant from God while having great faith in God. This would seem to be normal for many. Read something of Bonhoeffer and his trials and you might see yourself differently. I was surprised by this and ironically found it encouraging.
I guess it comes down to believing in greater and greater steps with the death and resurrection at the foundation. If you believe this, then see what applies to you. Explore what this means to you with or without feeling. Tackle the big questions once you have a firm foundation for what you believe.

I truly hope this helps somewhat.
There are many others who have wrestled with these questions as well.

Steve :slight_smile:

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(Lauren Mullins) #18

Elizabeth,
Thank you for sharing your struggle and fears. I also suffer from Panic Disorder, and mine started when I was 20. With the same terrifying premise, “What if God isn’t really there?”. I am now a Licensed Professional Counselor, and am 38 years old.
Let me say, your struggles, and and where you have been comforted are not just for you. You will be uniquely used by God to help others suffering in similar ways.
Apologetics has helped me immensely, but emotional doubt is more difficult and painful than mere intellectual doubt for sure, because you can, “What if” anything…even God speaking to you.
I have also found reading the prophecy’s helpful (especially Isaiah chapter 53).
Another thing that has helped is documenting when God has broken through to me, and going back and reading/remembering when He has stepped into my world and my pain.
Lastly, you need to practice some things daily to beat anxiety. Just reading alone won’t be enough. Might I suggest J.P. Moreland’s new book on this very subject, “Finding Quiet”. It will help with the practical side of fighting anxiety (he is a Christian apologist who suffered from anxiety greatly).
Elizabeth, let me encourage you…the mete fact that you CARE whether God exists, and you WANT to believe, says to me that you are His. You wouldn’t care otherwise. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. And you will never hear God reject you.
I am praying for you. Bite down like a pitbull, and never let go. He who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world. Take heart, dear one. He has overcome the world. Much love to you :blue_heart:

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(Jennifer Judson) #19

Elizabeth,

Your plea has spoken to many of our hearts, we are all praying for you. As I read your posts and the others a few things came to mind to share. My prayer is that they will be of some benefit.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Our relationship with God is always a response to His initiative. That means that since you have been seeking God and crying out to Him, you have been drawn into doing so by the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that enables this longing of our heart. So take joy in knowing that you are already in His grip. You are already responding to the Spirit.

A teacher once told me a story about a young woman who had Muscular Dystrophy who was attending his college. She operated her mechanized wheelchair with a single finger. Every now and then she would get into a fix where the chair would just spin and spin and she couldn’t get it going straight again. Their computer department developed some sort of program that could detect when this was happening and get her out of the loop and get her going again.

I think this is a good illustration of how anxiety can get us into a loop of overwhelming thoughts. I do not have any chronic issues with anxiety but in times of great stress I have had panic attacks. I can recognize them now and after a few seconds I realize it is not a heart attack but a panic attack and I am not powerless.

I had one such attack in 2006 when I was visiting my sister in the hospital where she was being treated for complications from her cancer. Just 20 minutes before my Dad was to take me airport to fly home, the doctors came in and told us she was possibly beginning to spiral down and today may be her last day. Now we have been told this before, and thus far there had always been a turnaround. We had to make a quick decision as whether I stayed or went and it was decided that I should go and come back if necessary. My sister was off having dialysis and they let me go in to see her. I can’t even describe the terror on her face, it was heart wrenching. I went back to her room to get my Dad and saw my folks clinging to one another and crying.

It was a long drive to the airport on the other side of Orlando. My Dad just dropped me off so he could get back to the hospital. The minute he began to drive away everything in my body told be to run after him. Yet my feet were in concrete. Somehow I managed to get the few feet into the terminal and adrenaline started rushing through my body. I felt like I was sweating under my skin. My chest was pounding. I became desperately afraid my parents would have two daughters dying in hospitals on opposite sides of a city that was fairly unknown to them. A moment later I found the thought that this was a panic attack and not a heart attack (I’d had a panic attack a few years before). I did everything I could do to just focus on every breath one after the other. I don’t know how but I managed to do the auto check in of the luggage and started walking to the gate.

I desperately needed God’s help. I tried to pray and I could not remember how. Not even the Lord’s prayer. No hymns or worship songs. Nothing. I could not connect with anything in my mind to help be focus my thoughts on God. Completely blocked.

Somehow I remembered what we’d been taught in grade school…who, what, when, where, why and how. They were like a catalyst to prying open my brain. Who am I?..I’m a child of God. What am I?..beloved by God and an heir in His kingdom. When am I loved?..eternally. Where is God?..here. Now. Etc. Gradually things began to come back to me. Ever since “who, what, when, where, why and how” have been my go to. The questions can be whatever I need at the time, it’s just a means of focusing my mind on the truths I know about God.

At the airport gate I called to friends asking them to pray for my sister and for myself. I read scripture during the long wait for boarding. When I got home, my neighbor, who was unaware of these circumstances, picked me up at the airport. She told me that God had given her a scripture for me. Isaiah 35:3 “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.”

It was a powerful moment I can tell you. Not long after I received a call that my sister had pulled through. She would pass later that year, but I KNEW even then that God was on His throne and in control of that situation.

I promise you, you are NOT alone. And even in the midst of your circumstances God is on His throne. We may never feel in control (because we aren’t), but He is. I hope and pray that this can bring you some encouragement. He’s got you.

Others have encouraged you to find good fellowship to support you in your journey and walk through the struggles with you. I can’t tell you how valuable and uplifting it was that I had Christian friends to call to prayer in that crisis. I’m so grateful that you reached out to the RZIM community in your struggles. I know we all wish we could do more than a virtual hug, but do the best you can to feel our arms around you.

In HIS love, Jen

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(Steven Kalinowski) #20

Lauren,
Good book suggestion!
Wish I read a book like Moreland’s recent book years ago.
Would have made anxiety feel much less stressful.

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