Today I received the richest blessing any mortal soul can be given, but to be able to share it with you, we must climb into the time machine and set the date for March 11 2009 when I wrote a post to my blog entitled “What would you die for?” in this post I discussed faith in God, resulting in actions, being proactive in purifying your life, getting rid of worldly influences, to allow your spiritual life to grow. Little did I know, across the globe a reader of my blog would consider it impetus to contact me in the comments field… here is what followed…
I came across your blog a while ago and I enjoy reading your work. I found this post(What would you die for?) particularly interesting because I have been having a problems with my faith. Since you are welcome to discussion I was hoping maybe I could tell you my story and you might be able to offer some advice. So here goes… My faith first began to weaken when someone I trusted very deeply betrayed me. In this terrible moment of darkness and confusion, I prayed to God that He would help me to get through this time in my life and teach me the lessons I needed to learn. As time went on, I noticed that my prayers seemed to be having little effect on my overall outcome, so I decided to pray even more fervently than before. Still, despite all of my tearful supplications, nothing in my life changed and no answer was given for the questions I was asking.
It was at this point that I could have done one of two things: A) I could have contented myself with saying “Well, God works in mysterious ways” and gone about my usual routine or B) Seriously question why my prayers were being ignored. I chose the latter. I realized that if I ascribed the behavior God was showing me with the same behavior a father would show to his son, any rational person would recognize that these were the actions of an indifferent parent. For if a son came to his father and earnestly pleaded for guidance, only to be completely ignored, we would most certainly call this man a terrible father. By applying this uniform standard of behavior to both God and man, we can see that rather than being the loving, gentle God we learn about from an early age in Sunday school, He is instead an indifferent parent at best and a voyeuristic sadist at worst.
If these declarations seem harsh or blasphemous, remember that I am only applying reason to a situation that is commonly overlooked and examining behavior to its logical conclusion. The same situations can be observed when people utter such common phrases as “God gives me strength” or “There’s a reason for everything”. The latter phrase is perhaps the greatest example of people exhibiting cognitive dissonance and falsely attributing fortune and misfortune to God or the devil respectively without thinking about what they are actually saying. When someone is passed over for a job opportunity and counters with, “Everything happens for a reason. God must not want me there” they are declaring that they believe in the power of God to direct their life. However, while adhering to the concept of freewill (since they themselves acknowledge their freewill to disobey God) they deny the freewill given to those who just denied them this job, attributing it to the divine intervention of God. This is a logical fallacy. People want to see God’s omnipotent hand pulling the strings of the dancing marionettes around them while they remain curiously unattached. Not only is this incredibly (albeit inadvertantly) narcissistic, it is also an example of someone parroting religious talking points without ever examining what they are saying. God is not controlling the good or bad that happens to you because God is not controlling other people.
I don’t know if you will be able to offer any advice. This is how I have been feeling lately, but at the same time I have been trying to seek advice from someone who might be willing to listen. I hope this wasn’t too much for a comment. You don’t have to reply if it was.
When I read this, I was quite surprised, but very happy to be given the chance to reply, I prayed fervently about it and enlisted prayer from others before writing the following email…
Hi There ,
Sorry it has taken so long for me to reply to you, but as I said I wanted to take care in my reply.
Before I make my comment on your situation I think it would be beneficial for me to tell you about my journey over the last few weeks…
When I received your message, I had been having great difficulties in my own life, after reading your message, I prayed that God would give me the wisdom to answer as he would have me do so, and guess what, my life got worse, personally, professionally and spiritually, clients went sour, friends seemed indifferent, I felt that I was in a spiritual desert, I could not find the living water… then the inevitable occurred, “Lord… Why!” and that “why” was all-encompassing, Why cant i find you? why is my occupation failing? why can i not even find a friend to share my burdens with?
He then Led me to understand some things, first I realized how able I was to place my faith in him for salvation, but how I refused to have faith in him for the rest of my life I struggled against this as I did not want to surrender to his control, my heart kept saying, but what if he doesn’t come through for me? then he led me to Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” and I realized my feelings are not to be trusted, I may feel God is far from me, but Jesus said in Matt 28:20 “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” so I claimed that promise and later he again impressed a scripture on me… Rom 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I concluded that in my case this was the cause of my lack of faith, so I sought to hear the word of God, returning to my habits of reading scripture and loading my iPod with Sermons…
So many things have happened since then I don’t really know what to start with, but on the 29th of April I turned 21, to celebrate this the weekend before I went away to a mountain retreat with those closest to me, (none of which live nearby) the closest came from 4 hours drive away, the furthest came 1400km for this weekend, it was certainly a spiritual High for me, among these people were who I consider to be some of the most spiritually wise people I know…
This weekend, forced me to let go of my trials, one could perhaps call it involuntary faith. Away in the mountains, no phone, no internet… I could not DO anything to fix the problems I was facing, I had to let God do what he does so well…
Did I return to Clients that were miraculously happy, and jobs that had fixed themselves? of course not I still came home to face the struggle but since i had begun “hearing the word of God” my faith was restored, now past the birthday rush, I am still dealing with some of those issues but praise God he is using me for HIS purposes, when I accepted the life that was his and he died the death that was mine i relinquished my rights to this world. Job understood that in 13:15 when he said of God “Though he slay me, yet will i trust him” this is true dicipleship, nobody told Job why he was suffering in fact the only people who offered any hypothesis at all said you must have done something REAL bad for God to hate you this much… little did they know the Great controversy being played out before them.
I believe God allowed me to go through that trouble for multiple reasons, but not least of which, to qualify me to write you this very email, and for that I Praise Him.
You discussed freewill, and I will go deeper into that shortly, but first I would like to say this, while God will not force you to do what you do not want to, if you ask him to shape your will, he is faithful to do so.
I totally understand your reasoning about “Everything happens for a reason” being a logical fallacy, however, while that does hold a certain amount of philosophical water, if you consider the nature of God I believe it can be logically explained;
God, being the personification of Love(1John4:8), has indeed given us free choice, applying it to the Job opportunity example you provided, I think your viewpoint perhaps underestimated the omniscience of God, if you are submitting your life to God and he knows the job which he has prepared for you, where you will be most productive for him, with unlimited foresight wouldn’t it be reasonable to theorize that in the months and perhaps years leading up to your application he guided the correct HR officer into that position who will appreciate the unique skillset you would be bringing? simultaneously preparing you and shaping your experience for the upcoming opportunity? is he removing anyones freewill? no, but intimately knowing the the innermost recesses of every soul ever created would allow him to maneuver you safely through your life, being the loving interventionist that he is, without ever once bending the will of an unwilling soul.
Your personal experience, pleading with God and the betrayal of those close to you, is not something that I would even attempt to decipher as i do not have all the details, much less am I wise enough to explain God’s motives, all I can offer there is my own experience, the most recent part of which, I detailed in the first portion of this email, I have felt forsaken, but if the Bible is correct, the guarantee that I am not (and will never be) forsaken is that Jesus was.
Those feelings were exactly that… feelings, Chemical rushes, the reality never changed, only my perception, I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”
I am by no means calling the sincerity of your prayer into question but I would suggest that you have been going through the spiritual desert and you are not yet finished seeking him.
In your email, you asked for advice, I have no qualification to do so aside from being a fellow brother in Christ… but if I could suggest anything it would be to give God the benefit of the doubt, take him at his word in Jeremiah, seek for him like hidden treasure, I guarantee your faith will be restored.
In Ephesians 6 where Paul writes about putting on the full armour of God, I believe there is a reason Faith is linked to the shield… if you use your faith to keep discouragement at bay, it will give our faulty human logic time enough to see the hand of God working in our lives.
Remember, God does not ask us to have “Blind” faith at the beginning of our walk with him, we have the experience of others and indeed those in the Bible to give us courage until we have an experience of our own to hold on to.
I have so many more avenues to go down, but I think I have probably said enough for this particular email. I promise my next email will find you in a much more timely manner.
I very much look forward to hearing back from you. I won’t be offended if you disagree with me, I just hope I have at least provided you with a slightly different way to view things.
I leave you in His care.
To this very day, I believe the hand of God wrote that email, merely using me as a secretary as I am a faulty human, I am not capable of such words…
Lately I have been seeking for something, anything at all to lead me back to God. I have missed my faith, and I have done things that I am not proud of. Your words were extremely encouraging. I can’t say that they will restore my faith overnight, but at least they give me something to think about. It is strange how I came by your blog by “accident” because I have been seeking answers from those who are close to me and no one has come as close as you did to say something that would make me consider opening my heart again. I really appreciate your words, and I hope to read more on your blog; you’ve got talent!
Praise God the story does not end there! a little while after this I was considering what had been discussed and I felt others would benefit from it… so I sent a new email…
How have you been? I was just working on a new post and thinking about your message, as long as I remove any identifying features (name’s, places etc) how would you feel about allowing me to publish our correspondence on my Blog?
I only ask this, as the questions you asked are the same questions many people struggle with, and I feel that people would be blessed by reading it, it is totally up to you.
Still Keeping you in my prayers.
Some 6 months later… TODAY the 26th of November 2009 I received the Following email and the blessing I refereed to in the opening paragraph…
I hope everything is going great for you. Sorry for the half a year late reply!!! I changed my email address (I don’t use this address anymore) and this email was just forwarded to my email now (i have no idea why it took so long). I would not mind at all if you post our correspondences on you blog. I have yet to thank you for changing my life. You made such an impact on my life and you are the reason Jesus in now back in my heart. GOD BLESS YOU!!! If you would still like to talk, i would love to hear from you. My new email address is [REMOVED] I hope you’re doing great. Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.
In my life I have labored for the Lord with joy in my heart but this is the first time anyone has ever blessed me by those words “You are the reason Jesus in now back in my heart” I am deeply humbled by this, and pray that you all be able to experience the Almighty hand of God use you as an instrument for His Glory.
Please share this story around, we should Rejoice when the Lord touches the hearts of his children!