Have you ever felt so down that you were ready to give up on your faith? Sometimes our circumstances, or our view of them, can make us think that up is down and vice-versa. In those times we may begin to see God as the bad guy, the failure, the trouble-maker, the liar. We can even imagine that He isn’t there at all, and that all our faith has been misplaced…

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(LORENZO MONTANA:”BYBLIS”) You really need bass with this-maybe headphones

One of the many sad aspects of this phenomenon is that too many of us are afraid to openly speak about how we feel, so that we shut up our struggle inside and try to put on a positive face. Conversely, those who’re in good spirits can be unwilling or afraid to hear negative testimony from someone who’s struggling. The pain gets buried deep inside the sufferer, and the potential friend exercises no love, compassion or encouragement. Here is a spiritual version of the parable of the man who fell among thieves while ostensibly religious people passed by on the other side, concerned only with their own well-being.

Having been a Christian for many years now, and being of a rather melancholy disposition, I’ve been through many periods in my life where I’ve struggled with doubt or disappointment and anger with God. I know in my head the Biblical truth of who God is, and who I am, and that we all live in a fallen world with fallen, sinful people like ourselves and with malevolent spiritual entities. I know in my mind that Jesus Christ-my example-suffered at the hands of men, as did his disciples and prophets. I know that there’s coming a day when all wrongs will be righted, and when righteousness and holiness will reign. But for some reason I just can’t help asking myself all those questions-you know-the questions you also have asked:

“Where are you Lord? Don’t you care what I’m going through ? Don’t you care how I feel? Why do the wicked prosper? Why is there so much injustice in this world that you made? Why don’t you straighten this rotten world out now? What are you waiting for?”

Yes, in my head I know the answers to all those questions, and I could write lengthy blog-posts on each one from a theological point of view, in defense of the God I profess. You can read my “Spiritual Defense Strategy” series if you want some head knowledge, which really is often invaluable in times of weakness. But like Job, it seems that when we’re in the middle of something awful or which seems awful, when we’re the ones who are suffering and not someone else, answers are not enough.

It’s really not so important what’s in your head: that can fail you. It’s what’s in your heart that counts.

Job discovered that he had a heart problem, and it was only when he completely surrendered his will to God that he found healing. We forget that God is God, and we are his creation. We have the choice to either submit and trust, or to go it alone. In the latter case, I can tell you from experience that there will be no satisfaction or resolution.

XIR84999 Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) oil on canvas Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France Lauros / Giraudon French, out of copyright

What I mostly wanted to say here is that when we get to the bottom-when we’re scraping the bottom of our barrel of faith and hope, and when we’re rehearsing those questions which, after all, are putting to the test the very faith we’ve been professing for years, we need to realize what the alternative of faith and trust is. This is always my turning point. I liken it to the turning point Jesus’ disciples reached when, confused and challenged to see people so offended by the words of Jesus that they walked away, realized that to desert Jesus would be to desert the only person able to give eternal life (John 6:66-68).

When I hit the bottom and look around to see where else I can go, it quickly becomes clear to me that there is nowhere else to go worth going to. The world is full of hatred, selfishness and greed. The world is full of heartaches, broken relationships, loneliness, disappointment and rejection. The world has been brainwashed into thinking-without actually seeing any evidence- that we’re all descended from tiny slimy creatures which once wiggled around in mud, and evolution, honestly viewed, is all about survival of the fittest, the strongest, the biggest, and those who can devour or defeat all competitors.

It’s a world which looks at the beauty, the intricacy and majesty of creation and of the universe and sees no meaning or message in it all.

That’s not the kind of world I would give up my faith for. There is a God. There is a Creator. He’s mind-bogglingly clever and powerful. And he’s perfectly able to make himself known through his own loving, holy, sinless, humble Son, and through an amazing and profound written message which we call The Bible.

You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.

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