Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chosen Faith

It can come out of the blue, blindsiding in it's surprise or it can come on a cycle of life, as events lead us to the place of questioning one more time. Sometimes it's the dead of winter that brings it on, with the sunless grey of endless cold days, sometimes it's simply a personal crisis in a sunshine filled world.

"Is what I believe about God true? What if I have put my beliefs in the wrong belief system?"

Some never meet up with this questioning. They believe and that's that.

Others? We wrestle in the dark of night and we ponder in the busyness of day and have to grip to that which we believe only with a blind faith sometimes, that has a tenacity simply because the free fall from, is too dreadful to consider.

That which is believed, if it is not true, becomes so hopelessly empty. So we hold on and we hope that we're hoping right. If it's not true, then we have hoped in vain. Or have we?

Repeated history into the valley of doubt has taught that the path will always lead back to clung-to faith.

The first steps begin with "What if I have put my hope in the wrong Savior?" but then logic takes over.  "Jesus, whom I trust, has all of history revolve around His life---B.C. and A.D. It would take as much faith to believe in Buddha or Mohammed or Joseph Smith as it does Jesus from Nazareth, but I want to choose the Messiah that turned history upside down."

This resolved, more quickly now in these days of maturity than in the younger years of this personal battle, the next doubt creeps in. "But wonder if there isn't a God and it truly is a delusion?"

This lingers for the briefest of seconds.

It's absurd really.  The world around, the seasons, the perfect distance of the sun from us, a look into a child's eyes with the marvel at how eyesight works, the wonder of the human body and how it is sustained from one moment to the next---there is a God. There has to be a Creator. These are intricate mysteries that must have a Source.

But the next question. . . that is the one that cuts apart the basis of our faith and shreds our soul in the process leaving us feeling as a child betrayed and abandoned by a parent.

But does this God care? Is He involved? Where is He when bad things happen? How does one trust in a God who does not seem to step in and rescue those He claims to love, especially the littlest ones?

Here the doubt remains for days, sometimes weeks and burdened months on end. We look back over our personal story and see landmarks along our journey when He has been revealed but in this place of dark doubt, we wonder if it was nothing but a desire so strong our hearts made it seem to be true. The power of suggestion from those in our life who believe with never wavering. Have we been too suggestible?

The struggles only intensify when we hear of horrible, wretched, evil events. The default of the human race is to wonder, "Where was God? Why did He not intervene and stop the suffering?" As often as this is resolved with a surrendered faith it comes again and again as a new crisis.

We are tender human beings, longing for love and longing for it the most from a Heavenly Father Whom we desperately want to be true and compassionate and good.

The complicated treatise arrived at in answer to this, is better answered by authors such as Phillip Yancey (Where Is God When It Hurts?) and Randy Alcorn (If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil ) and Joni Erickson (When God Weeps) Tada.

The more simplistic answer is this. Without a belief in God we have nothing. We have no hope. We have no lifeline.

Those who claim varying levels of unbelief--- atheists, agnostics, or atheistic deists ---when interviewed, have stated the reasons for their faith in the lack of God. They often reverberate in our own souls, despite our faith for we too have cried these questions out when this earthly life seems to horrible to comprehend and seems to all but deny a God Who cares at first glance. Yet these well-worn arguments have time and again been summed up with the heart-breaking refrain that it's hopeless to not believe in a God or believe in a God who has stepped away from the human race.

It was stated again recently in an essay for CNN, Why I raise my Children Without God

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope. 

So here is the question to examine one more time in this dark place of doubt: what have I lost at the end of my life to have believed? What if it is a power of suggestion only? Or a desire so powerful it has been contrived? To what end has believing this made my life worse? It hasn't. Rather, it has given hope and everyone needs hope.

Sometimes it is only logic that causes us to hold on and not let go. Because doubt is always bigger than emotional faith, only logic can choose to keep believing. But what have we lost to keep believing through the shadow? To have believed that this is not all there is and a better tomorrow is coming? To believe that the horror and tragedy of here is but a ripple with purpose and meaning in the heavenly realm, redeemed in all of eternity in such a way that the pain here, is but for a second and that it is working out something so lovely and radiant we will fall to our knees in breathless wonder?

Have we really lost to believe these things? When we can't believe by heart, to choose the belief by logic? For what is there beyond this if we release the choice of belief? There is only hopeless, lonely despair without purpose and without an end.

Those of us, so weak, so fragile in our faith, arrive again at this place of surrender. We cast ourselves upon it with bitter tears but also tears of peaceful acceptance, realizing that to not believe is forever worse than believing in a God we can not fully grasp or comprehend. Because we have glimpsed life without this belief and it is too terrible and dreadful for words. Without it there is no hope. And if we have not hope, what do we have?

That which is seen is not hope and hope then, does not disappoint.
                    ~ Romans 8:24
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