Living with doubt in a world of faith

Sometimes I’m just mad at God. Am I the only one?

If I’m being completely honest, it bothers me that God has set up this world on the foundation of faith. In Hebrews 11:6, the author tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. Why is that? Why couldn’t He just make Himself known in a way that leaves no doubt? That would make it so much easier.

I recently tried to make a point by describing my relationship with my daughter, in that she knows I am her dad. She doesn’t doubt it because she sees me every day, she jumps in my lap and we talk. She isn’t required to have faith in me in order to have a relationship with me. Then, my incredibly wise better half reminded me that Hannah believes I am her dad, not because she has researched it and come to this conclusion, but because we have told her day after day that I am her dad. She doesn’t know with certainty that we are her parents, but she has faith in the fact that we are her parents because this is what she has seen every day.

It’s completely possible that we are not her parents, and that she has falsely believed this for four years, but even if she did research it, she would have to base her conclusion on things like a birth certificate, pictures and stories by family and friends who would corroborate the claim that we are her parents. To a certain degree, she may never know with 100% certainty that we are her parents, but the inability to know something with complete certainty doesn’t affect her belief that we are her parents. In many ways, her knowledge, coupled with her experience drives her beliefs.

When Jesus said that we must have child-like faith in order to enter the Kingdom of God, I think He meant something similar to this. The problem is that Hannah may never know for sure that I’m her parent, but she does know that I exist, and I think this is what makes me mad at God sometimes. It would be much easier to believe in all of the other pillars of Christianity if we could at least know this one thing: God exists. But we don’t. I don’t care what anyone tells you, no one can prove with 100% certainty that God exists, and this is where the rub comes in. God requires us to believe in Him, in His creation of the universe, in His Son Jesus Christ (who physically walked on this earth 2000 years ago, not last week), in His inspired Word, and all of this has to be taken by faith at some point. I think this is what makes Christianity so tough at times.

So what is the answer? If you can’t know something is true with 100% certainty, what do you do? Do you follow the evidence, whichever way it takes you, and base your conclusion on where it leads, even though you can’t see the destination. Or do you just throw your hands in the air and say, “I don’t know?” and try to live in the gray?

I remember hearing a famous preacher say one time that he’s never seen the wind. He’s seen the affects of the wind, but never the wind. His point was to say that just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I appreciate that, but at the same time, I know he has felt the wind, and he’s certainly heard the wind. If he’s ever been on a cattle ranch, he’s definitely smelled the wind. It’s because of those senses that he knows the wind exists. And yet I wonder, what if we could not feel wind, or hear it or smell it, would we still believe it exists if we saw it blow a tree over or make rain fall sideways? Are we only to believe what our five senses tell us to believe, or is it possible there is more?

In times like these, I’m reminded of things in my life that I, nor anyone else, could ever explain – not in a million years. Without going into a lot of detail, there was a time when we were transitioning out of one job, and we were going to be $600 short each month on our bills. We discovered this and didn’t tell anyone. Within 24 hours, we had friends ask us to come over to their house, and they told us they supported our decision and had decided to give us $625 each month until I had a full-time job again. Are you kidding me?

I often have wondered, “How did they know? How did they come up with that number?” I have heard several stories from other God-followers of situations like this where people were prompted for no apparent reason to do something that was exactly what was needed, and it makes you wonder was that just a coincidence? I wonder are these the “affects” of God’s existence or just happen chance? It would be difficult to make a case for all of these experiences as being simply coincidence.

Couple that with what we know about the inner workings of the human body & mind, the complexity of the cell, and the intracicies of the universe with our privileged planet’s circumstances, and it would take more faith to believe all of this is just an accident, a result of cosmic matter reacting, with no purpose or meaning. It is hard to believe that all of this came from nothing. It appears much more feasible that all of this was created by an all-powerful, all-knowing god-like being.

I know it’s possible I’m wrong about this, but I am willing to risk being wrong for the reward of being right. For this reason, I have always appreciated Pascal’s wager because either way, you are gauranteed the best of all possible outcomes. It goes like this:

If an atheist/agnostic is right that god doesn’t exist, and I’m wrong, then we all end up in the same pile of dust. But if I’m right and an atheist is wrong, then there is a sharp contrast between our destinies. If I’m wrong, I will have spent a lifetime following Jesus and sacrificing my own desires to help others. If I am right, then I will have spent a lifetime following Jesus and sacrificing my own desires to help others AND I will spend eternity with Jesus in heaven.

It’s a risk-reward situation God has presented to us, and you have to ask yourself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

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