When faith causes you to doubt

I believe in a God whose love is so great that He is love. I believe in a God who is so powerful that He is all-powerful. But sometimes I struggle to reconcile this world with my belief in such a God.

Some struggle because they doubt;

I sometimes struggle because I believe.

My faith is unwavering in the fact that God can remove suffering. Yet when I cannot do anything to alleviate pain and suffering and my prayers do not alleviate suffering, I struggle to understand why God does not seem to answer the cries of my heart for those in need. 

I realize that I am not the first to be conflicted over faith and suffering. I resonate with the psalmist who asked, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1-2).

Things were so intense for the Psalmist that he said, “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me…” (Psalm 69:3, 16-18). Many before me have struggled with an apparent uneven distribution of pain and suffering. Or, with that age-old question of why righteous people suffer and the wicked appear to have health and prosperity. But, on a much deeper level, I hold strong reservations about anyone being righteous enough to claim a good life from God. I believe in the verdict that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I believe that, “the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death is such a horrible word and an even more horrible experience. But it is the just verdict pronounced over sinners like me. We are slowly experiencing it every day of our lives. There is a sad back-story to our suffering and a glorious end-story for those whom God loves. Yes, pain in this life is often hard to reconcile with God’s love and power. The agonizing question I face is why God chooses to allow pain and suffering when I am praying so much for its relief. Why doesn’t He answer my prayers for those who suffer? I cannot endure superficial answers to this real-life question. Skeptics offer answers ranging from atheism to deism. But for honest people, these alternatives only lead to deeper levels of despair. They also force a degree of thoughtless dishonesty which, I cannot permit. If I am to choose between no God or a God who means well but either cannot or will not do much to help, I am left with even more perplexing questions on far more levels than human suffering. I would have to sacrifice significant amounts of intellectual integrity to accept these conclusions. I also know that there are other weighty questions worthy of reflection.  

  1. Why does God choose to love and to forgive rebellious creatures at all?
  2. The back-story of human sin explains the source of suffering better than any other explanation (and there are not many on offer). So why would I think we deserve to have it better?
  3. Why do I feel that God should intervene? And what would intervention look like on a world scale?
  4. If I desire for God’s love and power to converge to rescue us from our misery, isn’t this exactly what happened when He entered our world of suffering in the person of Christ and suffered for us? (see: II Corinthians 5:17-21).
  5. Finally, why does God provide such a glorious end-story for forgiven sinners like me?

I admit that I have become accustom to (and even impatient for) solutions to pain and suffering. Advancements in science and medicine have strengthened my expectations. Is it possible that I am conditioned to hold unrealistic expectation for health and gregariousness? Do I have a place for sadness and suffering in normal life? These are not theoretical questions. When my father came down with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis in his mid-thirties, I learned what it was like to carry a prayerful burden for a suffering loved one. It profoundly shaped my life and, gratefully, did not lead to bitterness. I learned so much about God’s sustaining grace and His redeeming power to bring good out of pain and suffering. I continued to learn when I entered pastoral ministry and chose to care about many others.

Some key Scriptures that carry me: II Corinthians 1:3-114:16-18;12:1-10;James 1:2-9Psalm 62:8Proverbs 3:5-6

I will continue to pray and trust that suffering has a purpose even when I cannot see it. I will pray with one eye on the back-story and by faith, a hope-filled longing for the glorious end-story for forgiven sinners like me (see: Colossians 3:1-4). I groan inwardly as I wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). When God’s loved ones enter the place He has prepared for them, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (see: Revelation 21:1-6; John 14:1-3). I find myself longing more and more for this day and for this place. Steve Cornell Reflect on these words: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10). Worship in song: http://youtu.be/mxqfDs-64I0

This entry was posted in Afterlife, Assurance, Atheism, Atheists, Blessed are those who mourn, Christian worldview, Comfort, Despair, Doubt, Encouragement, Eternal life, Evil in the world, Faith, God's Patience, God's Heart, God's Protection, God's Will, Hope?, Loss, Pain, Prayer, Problem of evil, Questioning God, Seeking God, Seven Churches, Sick, Silence, Sin, Suffering, Trials, Will of God. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When faith causes you to doubt

  1. bbrown1 says:

    I read a book a few months ago by Randy Alcorn: “If God is Good, Why do We Hurt?”.

    I highly recommend it. He extensively covers this question from every concievable angle. It’s a profoundly good and important book, IMO.

    –Bill
    Forest, VA

  2. Andre Delage says:

    1. Why does God choose to love and to forgive rebellious creatures at all?

    He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness, Hebrews 5:2

    2. The back-story of human sin explains the source of suffering better than any other explanation (and there are not many on offer). So why would I think we deserve to have it better?

    And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 1:14….because you do…..His grace is abundant…expect no lest

    3. Why do I feel that God should intervene? And what would intervention look like on a world scale?

    And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son, John 14:13…..the world receive the testimony of the gospel of Jesus through answered prayers…..

    4. If I desire for God’s love and power to converge to rescue us from our misery, isn’t this exactly what happened when He entered our world of suffering in the person of Christ and suffered for us? (see: II Corinthians 5:17-21).

    “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”, 2 Corinthians 5:20…Unfortunately, most Christians life is more secular then Christian, therefore, so many Christians attempt to apply faith into their life in time of difficulties, however some end up struggling to a point of discouragement and fall short to rise above. The emotional feeling is more of a battle to make faith works rather than to let faith do the work.(http://www.simplicityinthegospel.com/)

    5. Finally, why does God provide such a glorious end-story for forgiven sinners?

    Because He is God. Job 38-41

    The answers are in the bible…. Would it not be easier if we went through life taking Jesus at His word? Yes, it would!

    simplicityinthegospel.com

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