An Atheist told me to ask God to reveal Himself to me and that is all the proof I need to tell me he was real. If he didn’t show Himself in some way when I asked that was the evidence that would show me he is just imaginary. I took his advice and I have been praying that He show himself and help me with my doubts but all I got was silence. I’m starting to be convinced God is not real and it hurts. I desperately want to believe but there is no evidence of the Christian God that I can see. The Bible could just be made up for all I know. How can I know this is all true when God can’t even show Himself to me in a way I can understand?
@Zenshii Elizabeth, I have heard many arguments of this nature from atheists and I am glad to tell you it is a complete misunderstanding of the way that God communicates with us. God has never promised to answer our prayers for special revelation. In fact - read the Bible - and notice that those people who experienced amazing instances of revelation were not even looking for it. Moses and the burning bush, Samuel and God’s voice in the night, Paul on the road to Damascus - they were not seeking some special sign from God. God found them.
Also notice that many people who had very amazing experiences of God actually rejected Him. The Israelites saw God do miracles in the Exodus and many still went astray. The Pharisees saw Jesus Himself and many still rejected Him after many miraculous signs. Faith cannot stand on a miracle - it must be rooted in knowledge of Christ in the inner most being.
And for most of us, there is no special sign. To be honest with you, I’ve been in some pretty sticky situations where I really felt God needed to help me right then with miraculous guidance or intervention and even though I prayed for hours there was no response. But I chose to trust God anyways. As King David prayed - wait for the Lord, be strong and courageous, wait for the Lord! (Psalms 27:14). And guess what? I found that God was near to me and that I grew through the experience. And what is more - in most of those cases God came through in a clear way bigger than I could have expected. And when God did not appear to come through, I remembered that Jesus did not promise us freedom from suffering, but freedom from sin and from death (John 16:33).
There is no Biblical promise that we will get a miraculous sign or receive deliverance from every trial, but there is the promise that if we are steadfast in our faith and in studying the Scriptures and seeking God’s face that we will grow in the knowledge of Jesus and that we have an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and unfading stored up for us!
2 Peter 1:5-9 - For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure , they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
It is in obedience that we find understanding - not the other way around. So I encourage you to keep obeying and seeking and knocking - do not lose heart
“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand” - Anselm of Canterbury
“Obedience is the great opener of eyes.” George MacDonald
@Zenshii just know that we are with you. Your struggle is real. That does not mean he is far away. He is right there for you. I love what @SeanO has referenced for you. Take pause. The hound of heaven is always after us. That pursuit is proof of his love for us. As you seek in earnest it will be given. Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. God-bless you and your journey.
Good morning, Elizabeth,
Your question is one I have asked myself many times, but no longer, now that I know the answer. SeanO’s answer is excellent, addressing specifically the question of how God reveals himself.
Your comments fearing God is “just imaginary” and that you “desperately want to believe but there is no evidence of the Christian God that I can see” is where this is aimed. Not sure of your age, but here are a few things to consider as far as this goes.
There is evidence.
First, look at the biggest claim (to me) of the Gospels - that Jesus died and was resurrected. In human understanding, this is just can’t happen. But if Jesus is GOD, then this is not unthinkable at all. The answers revealed themselves once I realized that there MUST be someone else who has asked the question: where is the body? How did the grave end up empty? After all, according to 1 Cor.15.19-22:
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
There is a book (available as a .pdf online) called “Who Moved the Stone” written in the 1930s by Frannk Morrison, an atheist determined to show Christians the Gospels are faked. The book doesn’t actually answer that question but is a detailed account of what he found in the supposedly contradictory gospels and concluded Jesus had to have risen from the dead – and became a follower of Christ in the process.
“You can believe BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE, not in spite of it.”. These words are found on the back cover of a much more recent (2013) book - Cold-Case Christianity, A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, by a forensic homicide detective (J. Warner Wallace), an atheist at the beginning of his writing.
J. Warner Wallace refers not only to the Gospel writers, and other Christians in the first hundred years or so following the crucifixion, but to secular writers. No one doubts the writings found by these secular writers. If the body had been moved, it would have been found. Secrets like that just cannot be kept. Charles Colson, Special Counsel from 1969-70 to President Richard Nixon, once known as President Nixon’s “hatchet man”, who became a Christ follower, is quoted as saying
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned, and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world - and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
Look to Jesus, immerse yourself in the bible, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you as you read. Praying you will be filled with His love, for:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out all fear. 1 John 4:18
Father, you hear us when we call; you hear this young woman, assailed by the darkness in the world, wanting evidence of your existence. Comfort her with your perfect peace. Drive away all doubt from her heart. Bless her this day. Amen.
Former doubter here.
@Zenshii first of all, I extend to you all my love and empathy. I wish I could be there to give you a hug. I’ve been through what you have been through! I know how much it hurts, I know the anxiety, the fear, the hurt, the sleepless nights. The good news is it can go away as it did for me.
At the beginning of my doubts I also sought some kind of sign or supernatural showing of God. I remember especially during my anxiety attacks I would pray for Him to reveal Himself to me and stop my doubts and the more I prayed and nothing happened the more anxious I became and felt as if my faith was slipping away. But the distinction is that I simply felt this way, rationally I knew there are more arguments for God than there are against God. But even so I wondered, still, what if its not true and this constant questioning was painful for me because I wanted desperately there to be a God. I did not have any specific arguments against God to say yes this absolutely disproves God but I felt like He was not there. I felt not believed! This was an important realization for me. Faith is not based on what I feel but simply on what I have accepted as truth in spite of my feelings. I began to realize that even if God would have somehow showed Himself to me in a supernatural way I would have still found a way to doubt that what I perhaps saw was real. We have the unique ability to doubt absolutely everything. During my doubts I even doubted my own existence. I could not prove I existed so what if it was not true? But all this questioning was simply because I was in fragile emotional state.
I remember I also wondered whether the Bible is not just another book. But the character of God is so constant even if its written across cultures, time, space and by different people. Isaiah 53 spoke so beautifully of Jesus and it was written hundreds of years before. During my doubts as I really started reading the New Testament I realized that the events in the book of Acts for example actually corroborate historical events and speak of real historical figures.q
For me faith was a journey not a destination. It took time for me to relearn how to trust God. During my dark times of questioning and doubting I kept on believing despite my fluctuating emotional states. I immersed myself in songs of worship and kept reading the Bible, kept going to church. After a while my emotions began to become more stable, I would not doubt as much but I still had dark periods of doubt. However that is when God met me, not during my terrible screams for help to Him in prayer. I remember talking to an acquaintance one day during those times and she, a bit embarrassed, because we did not know each other very well, told me “Listen, I dont know if I should tell you this but I have been praying for you. I dont know why, but God just put it on my heart to pray for you. Every time I would pray the thought of you came on my mind and I dont know what youre going through but I thought I should tell you this.” I was shocked. I asked her when did all this start and she said January, exactly when my doubts started. I thought about it a lot why God answered my prayers only after months of doubts. I realised that during my worse times of doubts, if God had revealed Himself in such a way I would have still doubted, but when my emotions stabilized a bit this actually strengthened my faith. This was not the only way God spoke to me. I remember the first time I opened my Bible when I started going through doubts this is where my Bible opened:
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Its like God wrote that verse for me. I was panicking during my storm and its like God turned His back and was sleeping.
Then I remember that one day, I was struggling with the question of how does the Holy Spirit move a heart. Isn’t the heart just an organ? What does that all mean? And it was an intense battle in my mind. I remember going home that night and feeling alone, I was seeking God with all my heart and its like He had turned His back on me. I cried that night. I woke up the next morning and I opened my Bible with the same feeling of bitter despair in my heart. I opened my Bible and as I was teary I remembered a verse from the Bible, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” I looked it up and saw that it was the Sermon on the Mount. I read that and I cried all the way through. Then I understood, oh so thats how the Holy Spirit moves a heart. I also remembered Jesus said: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
I have had many experiences during my doubt where I felt emotionally drained or lost or tired and these verses came in my mind that I had read once but did not know were there. Those verses were always exactly what I needed in those moments.
As @SeanO said in his comment there, God finds us not when we want Him to find us. For me my ‘signs’ were not when I thought I needed them most but actually they came after a long period of darkness, and they helped my faith become stronger. I know that in my moments of doubts, whatever sign I received I would have still found a way to doubt it. Indeed for most people it is not a sign that helps their faith. However for some it is. During my doubts I went and talked to one of my friends who is a pastor who had gone through doubts as well. His story of doubt was much more tragic than mine but Gods grace was also more evident.
Indeed God did not promise to rescue us from every trial. When we chose to follow Jesus, we chose a leader who was hated and crucified. I learned to not expect any less in my walk with God. Actually my experience with doubt ultimately strengthened my faith that Christianity is true and it drew me closer to God. During this journey through darkness suffering and doubt I drew so much closer to God and came to a new understanding of His love through Jesus Christ. I realized that all that the human heart could long for is found in Christianity. That no other world view offered me the answers Christianity did.
If you ever read Lord of The Rings, at the end of the book, Sam and Frodo are on their way to mount Doom and Sam realizes that whatever happens they are going to die. And the thought comes to him to just curl up and go to sleep. And the text goes on saying something like this: But even as hope died in Sam or seemed to die all of a sudden a thrill passed through him and as his will strengthen its like he turns into a creature made of steel and stone that neither despair nor weariness could subdue." That is what doubt has done to me. In the darkness you are formed and shaped to become something that you might not imagine now. For me my doubt and questions have helped me see the suffering of others with new eyes, to love those who go through these times, to help people that doubt or are going through dark times. Now I know that neither depth nor height nor anything in creation could ever separate me from the love of God, because I have tested it. When I came back into the light, I could finally see, all the little things God orchestrated in me going through doubt. I could not see Him, or feel Him, but He was there, shaping, teaching me, turning me intro something new, closer to His beautiful image and of course caring for me and loving me. So just as Sam did, do not lose hope, God is still there, trust Him, even when its the hardest.
During my times of doubts this quote by Charles Spurgeon really helped me “To trust God in the light is nothing, to trust Him in the dark, that is faith”
Remember, faith is a journey, it is not a destination. This journey will be filled with trials, tribulations, persecution, etc., but we have a God who loves us in spite of our doubts or sin or failures. Your faith is secure in Christ, and it is upon his Word that you must trust and not the emotional doubts that bring so much pain.
I would like to give you all the resources that helped me during this journey. You might feel like you are out of strength to keep going, but please give it another shot.
Gary Habermas - Top New Testament Scholar. I actually contacted him because I was desperate for help and he went through doubt for 10 years. He put me in touch with pastor Ron Davis of Core Apologetics who deals with doubters. I emailed back and forth for months with Pastor Davis, he played a huge part in me coming back into the light. I will send you his email address in a PM. Just email him and tell him of what youre going through, he can do wonders. Also this video is fantastic to understand of what is happening to you:
Tim Keller on how to deal with dark times.
Ravi Zacharias - Has Christianity failed you?
Reading about Charles Spurgeon who also went through some pretty dark times.
C.S. Lewis when he said “Now Faith… is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.” I went through this as well and it really helped me make distinction between what I feel and what I have accept through reason.
DONT GIVE UP! If I can help in any way just message me. But honestly Pastor Ron Davis can really help you.
@CipriCo This is the absolute best thing I’ve read. I am going through very similar times as the OP, having struggled with doubt my entire life but very recently feeing it harden to unbelief seemingly against my own will. I am still reading and praying, for sure, and will seek I endlessly for the peace I once had, but worship has become nearly impossible for me bc of my doubts, which is what sets this apart from previous bouts with doubts. My entire life framework is in the church, and in the knowledge that God is the author of life, so I am very unstable lately. That’s a good idea, to email Gary Habermas. I need someone to dialogue with as well. My husband helps me doubt my doubts, but I need to be able to fully express the depths of the unbelief that has seeded itself in my heart to someone who doesn’t know me so well.
@Zenshii , I hope it doesn’t seem as if I were trying to hijack your post, this response just really spoke to me and I also want you to know you aren’t alone. Even John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was the messiah. I will pray for you, because I still maintain the conviction that prayer works. I’ve read too many testimonies in this last year to disbelieve that (although I can see myself questioning after the fact). My questions lie in creation, not in the “great cloud of witnesses” who’s lives were so greatly changed. Much love.
I am so happy that the Lord is using my journey through doubt to help people! Same here Jen, I gave my life to Christ when I was 15 and have been serving Him ever since so to doubt God really shook me, my whole identity was at stake. I could not imagine my life any other way.
Yep, been there done that. Worship was extremely hard for me as well at times and I often felt unstable too. At times I was afraid of reading the Bible for example because I thought ‘what if I find something that will raise even more questions?’ Doubt tends to fester if you dont deal with it properly. And it affected my daily life as well. Gary Habermas pretty much knows everything about doubt and explains the cure very well in that video.
Remember, you cannot disbelieve against your own will. Faith is a CHOICE. It is a choice of the will and so is not believing. Faith does not magically disappear. I did not know this when I first went through doubt and I often complained that I felt my faith slipping away. The great thing is, faith is not based on what we feel. We are feeble creatures and often times feel down, scared, unstable, but God is one and He is unchanging. He is our rock!
Charles Spurgeon said ‘Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of’ I find that beautiful. Writing these posts about my doubts and reflecting back made me realize that deep down in my heart there is a living desire to serve God and a deep faith in Him rooted there. Hooray! And there is one in you @Jen and in you @Zenshii. Otherwise why would you struggle with this so much?
I still have moments where I doubt but it is nothing like before. They come now and again and its really not because I have any arguments. Its just because I am emotionally weak or tired. But I have learned to kind of snap myself out of it and not let myself go downward into a spiral of questioning. Over all questions my mind could come up with I have learned to trust God with the answer and recognize His sovereignty over them.
I hope everything goes well!
As I’m Going through what you have written feels like you know what m going through. I pray that God will take away all my doubts as he did yours.