In my last post I came clean about the nature of the doubts that plague me and why. I have never thought that I was alone with my doubts and the feedback confirms it. Thank you John, Jeff, Kinney (Preacherman), Jerri, Trey, Becky, and Zane (Big White Hat) for chiming in. You blessed me. What’s more, that post got more hits in one day than any other post I have ever had; the subject matter interested people whether they replied or not.
So I owe a post about why I believe in spite of my doubts; the other half of my internal dialogue as it were. I warn you, this will not be an airtight, unsinkable apologetic, a home run, touchdown pass, or any other triumphant sports analogy. It will not sparkle with originality. This is not about winning the game, but rather staying in it. Phillip Yancey once said that sometimes the only thing that keeps him in the game is the lack of a better alternative. These are the things that keep me in the game.
- Doubting is not a sin. If you have ever been smacked, yelled at, shunned, shamed, or endured any other mistreatment for asking tough questions, you have my sympathies. But somebody lied to you. The Bible is riddled with doubt and prayers that God said “no” to, from Abraham to the apostles. Those who have endeavored to serve the Lord have always expressed (either in word or action) serious doubts about Him and what He would have them do. David, the man after God’s own heart, expressed his doubts and resulting miseries in the strongest language in the Psalms. Most tellingly, God’s own Son had doubt, or at least conflict over his mission (what else do you think he was struggling with in Gethsemane?). While the Bible teaches trust, it does not forbid doubt; this tells me that the God presented in the Bible is bigger than all of our doubts. That is a God worth believing in.
- Meaning. Suffering is a fact, and to varying degrees a universal experience. However, there are only two perspectives on it: either it means something or it doesn’t. If the believer is right, then nobody suffers in vain no matter how difficult it may be to discern a point. If the atheist is right, then the best explanation for suffering is (as an atheist wrote in regards to this question) “sh*t happens.” Given these two options, which do you prefer?
- One God From Another. Atheists love to point out that every human being is atheistic regarding certain gods; nobody believes in the ancient Hellenistic gods or the pagan gods of Europe anymore. And they are right. Yet these gods that nobody believes in are qualitatively different from the God depicted in the Bible. If you read the mythologies surrounding each one, their deeds seem more like the antics of drunken superheroes – frat boys with “powers and abilities far beyond mortal men.” The God of Abraham and Isaac does not conduct Himself in any such manner. His manner is often confusing, sometimes it even seems distant, but it is never subject to our whims and wishes. And frankly, I like that I don’t understand everything about Him. I don’t want a god whose perspective is no broader than my own, nor do I want one who doesn’t care. And part of the message resounding throughout scripture is that He does care, whether He explains Himself or not.
- The Natural World. I will never be able to look at the Cascade Mountains in the Northwest or the Shenandoah Valley right here in Virginia and not hear God saying, “Hey kids, check this out.”
- Grace Under Pressure. Suffering is the greatest deterrent to faith, yet some of the most faithful people that I know have suffered some of the worst calamities of life. And their faith has not only survived, but also thrived. And each one, without fail, claims that the Lord saw them through. Having not experienced what they went through, who am I to argue?
- The Fellowship of Believers. So many believers in my life have blessed me beyond measure. Some of them I studied under in school, some of them I listened to on Sunday mornings, some of them I have taught, but I have learned something from all of them along the way. I am proud to call each one not just a friend, but a brother or sister.
- Jesus Himself. Beyond anything else, this is where I hang my hat. When every other support for my faith gives way, this is the one that holds. I don’t always understand him. I don’t always like what he said in the Scriptures. Yet the boldness of his life and ministry and his impact on the world always astounds me. His response to every challenge was unexpected. His teaching was revolutionary. For 2000 years men, women, and children of every ethnicity, nation, socioeconomic status, and walk of life have called on his name and found redemption and deliverance. He can be placed in history. His teachings broke an empire and set the course of the western world. Could a myth or charlatan do that? I don’t think so.
Not impressed? That’s okay. Like I said before, it’s my list and these are the points on the map that lead me out of the valley. I encourage everyone to read the thoughts in the comments section of my last post. And once again I am going to solicit the input of believers: what does it for you? Why do you stay in the game? I would love to hear your thoughts.