A friend of mine recently asked me if there is anything that could cause me to walk away from God. As a growing Christian, I realize how important and relevant this question is. In this article, what I’d like to do is bring to the surface some of the ways the Christian faith is challenged by skepticism, and doubt. In doing so, I hope to bring encouragement to believers, as well as clarification for those who are questioning the idea of faith, so we can all be well-informed with the ways a Christian not only can be motivated to love boldly and to live confidently in Christ, but to hold true to our faith in the face of our darkest adversities.
IS GOD GOOD?
When my friend asked me what could cause me to walk away from God, the first thought that came to mind was, “If God wasn’t good, then I would question the existence of any God altogether.” For me, I can’t imagine life as relationally driven as it is to have been birthed to life by any force that wasn’t intrinsically loving. The reason why is, through the human experience, we derive our sense of self from our awareness of, and attention to love. We anticipate love, whether subconsciously or consciously.
Hatred, on the other hand, cannot breed a healthy relationship. Therefore, since human beings are relational, in that we need people to thrive with and connect to, it is irrational to believe we were made from hate. Considering this, I have the hardest time fathoming the idea that a hateful God created us. God, if we can acknowledge one, must be that of love, in order for us to experience an intrinsic need for love. Therefore, if God created us out of love, then He must be good.
THE IMPACT OF PAIN
The amount of pain we experience in this life is another source of skepticism to dig into for a reason to believe in a good, loving God. When we lose a loved one, or experience the slow, torturous process of watching a loved one battle with cancer, or other malign disease, we question where God’s love and goodness are. We can’t fathom how such a loving Creator would allow cancer and disease to destroy us. A lot of what we don’t think to consider while in an emotional state during this type of situation is what tends to obscure our ability to see God’s loving action at work: While watching a family member or close friend suffer from cancer or malady is excruciatingly painful— sometimes, we overlook the role we play in their lives, and the importance of our role in the that person’s journey.
THE IMPORTANT ROLE LOVE PLAYS IN PAIN
When we witness others suffer, sometimes we forget the importance of loving those people, and being the light that they themselves may not be able to see while in their pain. Loving on people who are suffering is more important than questioning why they are suffering. Loving people when they are suffering does not make God evil or bad, but rather, loving others shows that God is indeed at work in others’ lives; whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Perhaps their body will not be saved from cancer, but their spirit cannot be touched by anything other than the grace of God influencing their decision to receive Jesus—and we may play a vital role in that choice by the way we love them. When we refuse to love others by acting out of resentment and frustration, we miss out on the chance to love them with a Christ-like love.
It is in these situations where it is essential that we express thanks for the remaining moments we have left to share with our loved ones. Rather than blaming God for pain, we can show others how, because of the love of Jesus, pain does not get the last say; but rather—that love, a listening ear, a gentle hand, a warm hug, a sincere smile—a hearty laugh, and a compassionate spirit overcome through Jesus in the light, what Satan can only attempt in the dark.
SKEPTICISM AND DOUBT
Asking questions and thinking deep are useful tools when it comes to new things that may or may not make much sense right away. Anything from a product a salesman is trying to sell us, to a belief system that someone is attempting to help us understand—it is more important to ask the hardest questions, so we can be absolutely sure of what we are buying and why we need it. What impassions us doesn’t always impassion others because not everyone is on the same path at the same time. And that’s okay! What’s amazing about a good, loving God, is that He meets us wherever we are on our journey and builds us up from there. What is the guide in which He uses to do this? His word (Bible), community (Christ-followers who support other Christ-followers), and time intimately spent with Him in prayer. He meets us in our skepticism and doubt and speaks clarity into our confusion by revealing one truth at a time, so that we can process in chunks what may feel very new in our spirits.
I can tell you that coming to know Christ more personally after 21 years of rejecting Him was not easy for me. I spent years not taking the faith very seriously. The biggest reason for that was because the newfound way of looking at faith was like having lived in a dark room for 21 years, then opening the door and walking outside into the 1pm sunlight on a bright Saturday afternoon: It was beautiful, but quite blinding on impact.
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO ADVERSITY IS COMMUNITY
In Christ, we believe the body of Christ is a supportive network of people working, serving, and living within the authority of Jesus, given to us by Him. Our faith in Him enables that power, and for others who do not yet believe, we use the power of prayer to bring those individuals to Christ.
In Christ, we know He does not leave us to figure ourselves out; He does not leave us to heal ourselves while He watches from the throne. Jesus gives us the power we need by living within us during our most vulnerable moments.
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