Christian Counseling: Testing Of Our Faith By What God Is Not

The changing beauty and power of nature, the mystery of miracles, the pure innocence of an infant, inescapable death and the unmatched character of God, how could any person deny the existence of a higher power or not care about spiritual life? In my opinion, God has given us sure evidence of His life, yet He has also built into life possible explanations that could lead a person to conclude He doesn't exist. Thus, everyone has an equal starting position of being on a fence where the heart is free to choose to get off on the right side, believing in God or the left, believing there is no God. In that decision the heart is revealed, which is one of His grand purposes.

God is not easy to understand nor His methods simple, but are: demanding, perplexing, extreme and radical. Disturbing to many is the idea that God chose not to communicate plainly and simply, but in a way that seems to hide truth in muddy waters. He spoke in parables. His reason? Well, that is troubling as well.  In Mark 4:12 we find, "'To you [disciples] has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.'"  

God is not an easy taskmaster. Some dare to think, if He wants all to come to faith in Him, why make it difficult? Why not make getting into heaven simple or, at least, simpler? Why not provide a few absolute proofs, which would still require us to live by faith to overcome other competing and troubling points of doubt? Why make the road to salvation so up hill, so full of sinkholes and seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Why make a relationship with God so difficult by His requiring we do the hardest thing in the world--die to self. Do you really understand how awesomely scary and gargantuan that task is? To hate our life? To completely let go of control? To let go of a rope and allow ourselves to fall into the darkness of night?

God is not the perfect deliverer. We Christians believe God is good and without a quark (proton particle) of evil. We believe He is our deliverer from circumstances  and people who could unintentionally or intentionally harm us. We have the evidence of Scripture and the testimony of all Christians who have been delivered from their former lives and from tragic situations and even death. Yet, He is not the perfect parent we imagine He could be or should be, from our view. Often, He seems to take forever to help, especially when our pain is present and persistently overwhelming. Think about this true story: how was it that God allowed a girl in middle childhood with a sincere faith in Him and who consistently prayed for deliverance to remain in the torture and trauma of sexual abuse by her father into her late teens? How about this? How is it that one Christian makes his flight while another Christian misses that same flight? A flight that will not reach its intended destination. Why rescue some and not others? Why does God not deliver all who pray in faith believing from cancer or other illnesses, loneliness, being bullied, traffic accidents and divorce? Of course, the number of questions and circumstances could nearly reach infinity. Horrific things happening to people, in particular to good people, leave many with doubts about God and silently asking questions like: Why God? Where are You? and Do You exist? There are many, many challenges to our faith in the few short years we live as the result of what God is not. 

The intent of God in choosing or allowing some of these circumstances to exist in this world is not to harm us, shatter our faith, or keep us at a distance. It is not because He sleeps, is too busy or doesn't love us. They exist because of evil in the world and people's failure to heed God's wisdom, but also because they are intended to help grow our faith and relationships, to become personally stronger, to live like radical Jesus and see us through the next, often naturally occurring challenge. Sometimes we get mad at God who doesn't make life easier, especially when we feel overwhelmed and beyond ourselves and hope. Like with Jonah, He encourages us to openly talk with Him about our anger, as well as other troubling thoughts and feelings. He's quite big enough to handle our puny anger and hard questions.

I can tell you what has helped me in facing and coping with the hard realities of life and the tragic stories I have heard in my 30-plus years of counseling, all without having a negative effect on my faith. I can honestly say, as a very young child and before I became a Christian I never doubted the existence of God. And from the time I became a Christian at 24 years old to today, I have never doubted His existence or my future with Him. Seriously, not once. To me, it doesn't feel like I live by faith, but by an indisputable knowledge and reality, as if I had already walked the highways of heaven, knelled at His majestic throne and seen the face of my Savior and Brother, Jesus. Consequently, I am secure in my salvation, which is now, thanks to Jesus, completely independent of any of my surprisingly (to me) sneaky, carnal feelings, thoughts and behavior. 

What helped me get to that way of thinking and living? Some of it is a mystery. Some of it is from God. What I do know is that it is greatly influenced by this belief: "There is an answer to every question and a solution to every problem." When I come upon a logically supported idea, belief, or so called scientific fact that refutes His existence or goodness, I know there are a multitude of ways that can explain the problem, even if I can't see it at the moment, or ever see it. I don't engage in blind faith and simply move on, but I actively use my faith in pursuit of truth, without fear of what I may discover. I am an explorer at heart. I love to search out ideas and facts beyond what is presented or assumed. In doing so, I find there is always, always more. Every answer leads to ten more questions. That which is uncovered yields surprising freedom, deep peace, a transformed life and a mingling of deep knowledge with triumphant faith. It is up to each of us to search out the answers to every question and solutions to every problem by using the power of our minds, the sensitivities of our hearts, our God-birthed spirits, the leading of His Spirit and His imparted gifts, such as discernment and wisdom. In the end, the numerous triumphs have resulted in my not needing an answer to every question or solution for every problem. Past success has put my heart at ease, sufficient, I believe, for the rest of my days.  Although, I will never stop asking and searching for I love the process and the discovery. One of the positive consequences of all this is I am not afraid of exploring any issue or asking any question. I am not afraid of what I will find nor is it ever in vain.

Without the continued existence of difficult situations and troubling questions faith would be unnecessary. When we meet God face to beautiful, long-awaited face, difficult situations, troubling questions and faith will cease to be. All doubt and pain will finally breathe their last. It's all going to happen, I promise. 

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