I Don’t Want to Believe in God Anymore.
“I don’t want to believe in God anymore.” This is a statement that has gone through my mind during times of suffering. You may be thinking, “Wait! This guy is a pastor and he doesn’t want to believe in God anymore?”
Hold on. Before you jump to any conclusions, I want to explain that these kind of thoughts are common for those going through suffering. Of course I believe in God and believe Him to be sovereign and good and loving and holy. However, during times of suffering, even those with the strongest of faith may begin to act and think about things differently and often times dangerously.
Just because crazy thoughts come to mind, doesn’t mean that we have to cater to those thoughts. We are not simple mindless humans that float around being held captive by every thought or feeling. No, we are rational people that God created in His likeness to place all things, thoughts, feelings, and desires under HIS AUTHORITY…not ours.
So, how does this irrational thought of not wanting to believe in God anymore compute once placed squarely under the authority of God? Simple. We realize that God is higher than we are. That He is to be served by us. That, despite the televangelist’s deceitful teaching of “health and wealth to all who have faith” (as if God is required to bestow financial bounty into your checking accounts), God has every right to allows it to “rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)
Our desire to abandon God during times of suffering has more to do with our unmet expectation of God’s performance in our life (i.e. keeping us healthy, keeping our loved ones healthy, having a job, etc….because we believe in Him) and less to do with the actual suffering going on. We expect God to be on our side because we’re on His side. (I have actually had people say that they can’t believe God would let our baby to pass away because we were in full time ministry…as if my vocation should protect me more from suffering) We think to ourselves – if I believe in God, and God is all powerful then, He should protect me from suffering. Then when suffering comes we think – I believe in God, and God could have kept me from suffering, but I am suffering, therefore either God is a jerk, unable to resist suffering, or doesn’t exist. I bet many people have had these thoughts before. However, it’s extremely flawed.
The foundation of this thought process is that GOD EXISTS TO SERVE ME. If we believe that we are in relationship with God (i.e. Christian) because He will give us things or keep bad things from happening to us, then we have placed God in a subordinate role as our servants rather than being our divine authority. We basically use God. It seems odd, as well, that we would think that the Creator of all things did so in order to serve and cater to our every whim and desire. He would be no different than the parent who endlessly pampers their children into brat-hood (you’ve seen these kids at the mall screaming at their parents). Also, if it were true that if you became a Christian then you would never get sick, lose a loved one, be wealthy, and never suffer, then Christianity would be more popular than Hot Pockets. Who wouldn’t become a Christian?
However, following Jesus is not a gravy train to health and wealth. It is an altered perspective on everything…including our suffering. When Jesus came to earth He ushered in a reverse kingdom where the least shall be greatest and the first shall be last. He gave us the eternal perspective that allows us to understand our place as submissive followers of the Divine. In following Jesus’ example the Christian seeks to give of himself rather than take. The mindset is that God is to be worship and praised, that He is sovereign not us, that our example for this life is Jesus who gave of himself, experienced suffering, and always had an eternal purpose in mind so that “not my will, but Yours (God’s) be done.”
So, as we experience suffering, we must not be too zealous to allow our carnal minds and emotions to rule and wreck us. Even though we may never know why we’re suffering, we can know that the gospel allows a perspective that heals us from the pain because every kind of suffering we experience now, Jesus experienced as well…for our benefit and healing. Have you been abused? Jesus was abused to give you dignity. Have you been betrayed? Jesus was betrayed to allow you to trust again. Have you lost a loved one? The Father lost his Son to give you a new life. Changing our mind (repentance) regarding our authority over God and accepting (belief) Jesus’ example on earth as work in our hearts and minds, may cause us to live with a perspective on life that heals our pain in suffering and strengthens our soul in times of doubt.
Now, don’t you want to believe in a God like that?
We’ll be talking more on this subject on Sunday, June 5th at 9am at 2400 California St., Denver, CO 80249. There will also be sermon audio available after this date.