Occasionally I counsel young people struggling with depression, anxiety and other such disorders. It can be both challenging and fulfilling. Recently I’ve been challenged to not hide my faith when I am providing advice. Some people agree, some don’t comment at all. You can imagine how negative people’s views of God/religion can be.
Recently there was a girl who started a discussion asking whether or not people believe that God answers prayers. The responses were equally divided. Some said yes, others said no, some said that He listens but may not always answer them. There was one girl who stated that God doesn’t exist and the Bible is lies. When I asked her why she replied “Because I said so”. The sad thing is that she is not the only one out there. My response to the discussion was that God always listens to prayers. Always. The problem arises when it comes to finding an answer to these prayers. You see, mankind has it in their minds that when you pray you get what you want, but I’m relatively sure that that isn’t what prayer’s about. Mother Theresa once said “More tears are shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.” The answer to a prayer doesn’t have to be ‘yes’; sometimes it has to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, but mankind is often too selfish to accept an answer that isn’t ‘yes, of course! Let me do it now!’
As I mentioned in my last post God had no obligation to make us but chose to make us anyway. That is the foundation of my personal definition of grace. Why is it that when people think of God as being a just, loving being He must conform to what we want Him to be? Since when does an apple go to the chef and say ‘Hey buddy, I want you to make me into a pie’? The chef may indeed want to bake a pie and he may use the apple or he may use the cherries or the steak instead. Does the apple then say because it was not made into a pie then the chef doesn’t exist?
I’ve never doubted the existence of God. To me He was always present and watching and I was just trying to figure Him out. I am guilty however of trying to make God into a man. I wanted to understand God and so I’d try draw pictures of God with me sitting in His lap, or after my grandmother passed away I demanded that He bring her back because I knew that for Him it wasn’t impossible, after all He had breathed life into her to start with. So many other people try to get the concept of ‘God’ in a neatly wrapped package in their mind and they like to believe that they understand God. They like to believe that they have God in their pockets, ready to whip out when they need Him. Since when does God conform to what you (a mere insignificant pixel in the vast unending universe) want Him (the Almighty Father of Heaven and Earth, and Creator of the universe) to do for you?
When speaking to people who have some form of anxiety disorder you can’t really present this sort of view to them in the same way that I’m doing so now. A lot of them find strength in God and others are enraged at this God who gave them an illness which makes them want to slit their wrists at every waking moment on a daily basis. It is hard though, I would never lie and say that it isn’t.
Often atheists will bring up the world’s various illnesses, whether they be war or poverty or high mortality rates, and ask how this ‘apparently all knowing, all loving God’ allows all the chaos and pain of the world to happen. Is He not able to make it better or is He simply not there? In regards to this let’s look back to the Old Testament. God made the universe and it was good and He made man and woman and all was good until sin came along. Sin and our own sinful nature is what has lead us to where we are. We know the difference between right and wrong and yet we choose to do wrong anyway and then complain when God doesn’t instantly fix everything for us.
So many people were given countless chances,for example in Kings, and it was through their own disobedience of God that they met death and dischord. He kept saving them and they would be good again for a while then fall back and they would be punished then saved then it would happen all over again. I’m surprised God hasn’t just become fed-up with us by this stage. Seeing that there could only be one solution to this, so that every person would be saved and God could punish sin at the same time, The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us aka Jesus Christ. Jesus came, the human embodiment of God, in order to give us another chance and to take our punishment for us. Here it may get a bit tricky; Jesus did die for us but He truly died so that God could spare us but still exact His wrath and so He did so upon Himself in the form of His only begotten Son. He did it because He wanted to, it was all according to His will. No other human has ever had to endure that and yet we still believe that for us to acknowledge and agree that there is a God He must first prove it to us by granting our every desire. If you want a genie go off into the Arabian desert and look for one but I’m going to stick with the God who I am completely incapable of comprehending.
Another argument that’s often brought up is the battle of religions; Christians against Christians, Jews against Christians, Jews against Muslims, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against the world, Christians against the world. Why believe in something that causes so much sadness in the world? I’ll address this from my point of view, feel free to disagree and comment your own understanding. I believe that God isn’t in these disputes. God has sent armies to punish people before but where there is hatred and rage in the heart I don’t believe that you leave enough space for God to work. It’s more likely that the voice of the Holy Spirit within you is silenced. God is in actions of love because God is love. Love starts with Him and ends with Him. Not everyone is given an easy life but it’s like a diamond which starts off as coal or a piece of rock which starts off jagged and coarse but is weathered into something smooth and shiny. It would be wrong to believe that because you’re going through a hard time God isn’t with you. He is, holding your hand along the way. In the moments where you don’t get what you want or you face some form of hardship it doesn’t instantly mean that there’s no God or that He hates you, look around, maybe it was someone else’s turn to receive a blessing and yours is coming by snail mail instead.
I don’t want God to be a man. I don’t want Him to be someone I can wrap up neatly in my mind. I don’t want Him to do what I want but rather what I need. I don’t want to view Him as though He were a meal from McDonald’s (Here’s your God, do you want a slice of peace with that?). If I made Him into a tangible being that I could fully comprehend then I might as well walk out the door, find the first guy saying things I agree with and go worship him. Sounds ridiculous right? So why do we feel that it’s ok to do that to God?
At times I sit in my room alone and ask, why do you believe in God and why do you believe that He is a good God? It’s similar to trying to describe to someone why you’re favourite song is your favourite song. You could explain the lyrics, the sets, the instruments, the notes, the key changes and the emotional psychological impact, but at the end of the day you can’t explain something like that. You just know when you know.
In a single sentence what I’m saying is that God was not made for man, man was made for God. Below I’ve added a link to a video I found recently, it describes what I’m getting at quite well.
May God watch over you, your family and all your loved ones and may we all marvel at His awesomeness and show love in our actions.