Anonymous asked: Hey Unka, so for the past several weeks I’ve been in a very apathetic and confusing and depressing place. I had a bit of a breakdown where I went on a long drive and yelled at God, because I felt like I was trying to force this relationship with God to happen, and He wasn’t giving me any help. I feel like I don’t even know God. Why is it so easy to doubt if He even exists? I want to believe in Him so much, but I refuse to pretend or force anything. I guess I’m just waiting to be impressed or convinced. Which doesn’t seem right. Please help? [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: I think the only thing I would tweak is the very last thing you said, the “doesn’t seem right” part. Everything else looks okay. You’re describing the process of dying to a lifeless and impersonal disconnection from the Lord, and being reborn into a totally real, totally honest, totally authentic relationship with the Lord.
You “refuse to pretend or force anything”, I say good. I’m with you all the way on that. You say, “why do I doubt so easily that He exists?” I’d say that He is flippin’ invisible, dude. I mean, doubting is the easiest thing there is. It’s having faith that’s tough, particularly when the fertilizer is hitting the air conditioning,.
It sounds like you feel apathetic and distant from God, because you think maybe He’s mad at you for yelling at Him. Think about it this way: imagine you had a child who was mad at you, would you rather have that child confront you, and yell, “I hate you!”, or would you rather have that child go away and isolate themselves from you forever? You made the choice the Father wanted you to make.
You say, “I felt like I was trying to force this relationship with God to happen and He wasn’t giving me any help”, and I’m thinking that God didn’t want to force that old mess into working either. It sounds like He wanted you to break out of the mold you were in, and for the old dead thing to die to make way for something real, even if that involved yelling, kicking, and pitching a fit.
I think God AGREES with you that it shouldn’t be forced. I think God is happier with you and the relationship you share right now more than ever before. And I’ve got some Bible to back me up on that.
If you read the Book of Job, you see Job go through just about every emotion and just about every kind of doubt there is, (and he gets lots of bad advice along the way, as well). Then God enters the picture and says “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me, where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand!” (Job 38:3-4).
Very strong words, and a very serious bit of perspective-giving unfolds over the next few chapters as well. But there isn’t a word of judgement, or rebuke, or condemnation from the Lord towards Job. And at the end of the conversation, the Lord blesses Job more than ever before.
And here’s the thing, I know that you’re prepared to have God talk to you like this, I know you wouldn’t mind hearing “brace yourself like a man”. You actually want it to be real. And so does God!
Not satisfied? Okay, I’ll give you another example, remember ol’ Doubting Thomas? He sure does get a bad reputation, but Jesus (who wasn’t the least bit shy about rebuking people) never rebuked the cynical and gruff Thomas for wanting to be certain. When news reached the apostles that Jesus had risen, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe it until he felt the wounds of the crucifixion on Jesus.
Jesus later knocks on the door, and tells Thomas to walk his narrow butt over here and have a feel for himself. “‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
Jesus answered Thomas without complaint, rebuke, or condemnation. And Thomas wastes no time getting on the right track. So everything works out. Sure, Jesus does give him a bit of a word about how, ya know, if ya wanna be a man of faith, you might want to, ya know, get some faith going.
But again, I sense in you that you’d rather have a firm word spoken direct to you in a real and authentic and personal relationship, rather than hear a thousand flowery words from some kind of religious middle-man. This is the very connection Jesus went to the cross to make.
Trust me when I say, both Job and Thomas walked away from these encounters on the exact same page with God. And to me, it sounds like you’re walking in their footsteps. And that’s coming from a man who, more than once, was absurd enough to wave his little balled up fist at God, and in turn heard more than one strong, yet loving, word in return.