7.29.2009

Crisis of faith

(This may be trigger-y to some. Please know that I am expressing my personal feelings only and am in no way trying to make any arguments about anyone else's beliefs.)

(Oh yeah, and this is long.)

Up until recently I had a happy theory going that if I couldn't find a reason for something bad happening, it must be meant to teach me a lesson about life. I just needed to have some explanation to hold on to.

For example: I am infertile. I can find no explanation why anyone should be infertile, it goes against nature, and one could even argue that it goes against God's will ("be fruitful and multiply," and all that). Therefore, there must be a lesson in here for me to learn. Patience, maybe? Dealing with disappointment? Finding other ways to be happy? All of the above?

Lately, however, I find myself questioning my beliefs. And by that I mean pretty much anything that I've ever believed (okay, or theorized) to explain life's mysteries. Hubs says I'm having a crisis of faith. He apparently knows this because he had one years ago and got over it.

I always thought my faith was strong. I loved getting involved with the church, I sang in the choir for 15 years, prayed, went on retreats, read the Bible, etc. I suppose now my faith is being shaken, and I suppose I am doing the wrong thing by questioning it. And I know it's wrong that I've been angry at God for the past several months. Angry enough to stop going to church and to all but stop praying.

I'm probably oversimplifying things. I'm questioning my faith because I can't make sense of how a loving God would allow people to suffer so pointlessly. And further, why he would choose not to answer those people's prayers for relief.

(I know, my C.o.F is not even based on an original quandary!)

My frustration with this has caused me to think: 1. Prayer doesn't work, because 2. God doesn't actually get involved in our lives, and 3. because God isn't really involved in our lives he could care less about teaching us lessons. Therefore, seemingly pointless suffering is, in fact, pointless.

As a person who embraces logic, however, I have to go back to my logical self and the basics of what I believe to be true. I believe that God is all-powerful, which means His understanding must be FAR beyond mine. And I believe Him to be utterly good, which means at the very least He must not want us to suffer.

And yet we do. People have all kinds of theories about why that is - to help us create a better relationship with God, to better appreciate the times when we don't suffer, to learn compassion... I'm still not quite sure what I believe about that. But I think my anger towards God may be lessening some. And as long as I can remember those two fundamental things I think I can start building my faith up again.

5 comments:

E said...

I think your feelings are totally normal.

It IS hard to fathom why God would let people suffer. What about poor innocent children and people who are victimized and brutally murdered or abused?

I guess that is why they call it faith. I don't know.

I can relate to all religions in some way or another. It is the zealots that I have problems with.

Rightousness does not equal religion.

One thing I have learned from IF and loss is that sometimes life does not turn out the way you expect it, I appreciate the things I have a little more, and that I will be and am a better mother for it.

Emily said...

Kitty -

I suggest you read "The Shack". It really changed my persepective and gave me a lot of insight to the same exact things you are feeling. It's fiction, but is rooted to Christianity, and it makes the hard questions in life a little easier to understand. Ever since reading it I have really focused on forgiveness, prayer, and not judging, it's been a real eye opener.

Just a thought...

Allison said...

My two cents, which are worth nothing...

If we are to have a relationship with God (as religion says), then we must look at what a "relationship" is. It's not always all good. Sometimes you get angry; sometimes you can't stand to see the other person breathe. Doesn't mean you love him any less, it's just how it goes. But you get through it and love him even more after such a time.

Same goes with God.

He made us inquisitive beings, and if we didn't question, how would we learn and grow? I believe the trick is to continue to have faith. There are just things we aren't meant to understand.

Someone once told me that God wants us to have the desires of our heart, and He has a plan, and it pains Him to see us struggle while we wait. I have a hard time with this one, but again, I suppose it goes back to faith that He does have our best interests at heart.

Suffering will always seem pointless, but I choose to believe that those who suffer will be rewarded more richly (whether in this life or in the after).

It's tough, of course. But God knows what's going on in your heart and will be patient until you return to Him, and will welcome you with open arms.

Tanya said...

When you find out something, please post again. I'm finding out the I am having this same Crisis of Faith and I don't quite now how to deal with it...

Daisy83808 said...

Kitty - Something that I've learned (and it sounds like you are doing) is to remember God's character. God's character doesn't show that he allows for pointless suffering. In fact, Jesus' disciples asked him a very similar question. "As [Jesus] was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' Jesus answered. 'This came about so that God's work might be displayed in him.'" (John 9:1-3) Jesus went on to heal the blind man. While IF is extremely painful, God is not trying to cause pointless suffering, but rather to display God's work in you! The women in the Bible that dealt with IF ended up seeing God work through them in an amazing way that they would have missed if it came easily. In fact, IF in the Bible has always resulted in a miracle. God is always teaching us things, but maybe more than just teaching us a lesson, He wants to show us something amazing and use us for His work.

Consider an example that has nothing to do with IF, but appears to have pointless suffering. The Israelites orginally went to Egypt to escape starvation, and God even used one Israelite to save Egypt from a devestating famine. But after a while, the Egyptians began to oppress the Israelites and put them into slavery. For a long time they suffered under slavery in Egypt. It seemed like God had abandoned them, but God was preparing a new land for them and a leader to take them there. He was also preparing them to leave. God told Moses, "I have indeed SEEN the misery of my people in Egypt. I have HEARD them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am CONCERNED about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them..." (Ex 3:7-8) He saw them, heard them, was concerned about their suffering, and had a plan! God showed the people His amazing works. The Israelites have never been the same since their dramatic rescue. They would have missed the parting of the Red Sea and the ten commandments and the receiving of the law. They would not have been as excited about their new land.

Obviously, God's perfect plan is that we wouldn't suffer at all (think Garden of Eden), but Jesus said, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world." (Jn 16:33)