Dear God, help me to believe in you.

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Dear God,

Today I am not sure you exist, but I’m praying anyway.

It seems as though the older I get and the more I learn, the less sure I am about anything.

I never used to doubt you, not really. I was taught that I could have absolute confidence and certainty in my beliefs, and I did. I was taught that there were clear explanations for everything if I was just clever enough to understand. We had the answers, others needed to hear them before it was too late. I suppose we thought we owned you, in a way.

Now I look around and see how this sort of “strong faith” so often leads to a closed-minded, blinding arrogance that causes people to justify oppression, violence and destruction of our planet, and I find myself siding with the atheists.

I was taught that you always answer prayer, and that if I fully trusted you and prayed with faith, all would be well.

Now I see images of boats crammed full of desperate families in life-jackets, surely praying harder and with more faith than I could ever possibly muster, whose cries for help apparently go unanswered. If you don’t answer those prayers, how can I be so arrogant to think that you will answer mine?

I was taught that I could have a relationship with you, but how do I silence the voice in my head that tells me you are a figment of my imagination, a kind of Santa Claus for grown-ups? How can I trust and rely on you as my closest friend and Father when you might not exist?

I suspect I am never going to stop asking these questions, but I know I will never give up my faith. The Jesus story (although not the penal-substitution-soaked, exclusive, it’s-all-about-avoiding-hell one) remains the best, most beautiful, fascinating and potentially world-changing story I have ever heard. Whether or not it’s factually true, I still believe it could save us. I am clinging to that.

The uncomfortable truth is that none of us can ever really know what all of this is about. But I would rather live with hope and be wrong than become a nihilist and be right.

So I will continue praying, even when I am convinced I am deluding myself. And maybe, just maybe, that is what faith is supposed to be about.

Maybe “strong faith” doesn’t mean having absolute certainty in my beliefs. Maybe it means refusing to let go of hope even when it seems entirely implausible that there is any deeper meaning to life.

Maybe faith is more like floating on the surface of a deep ocean than standing on a mountain top.

So God, if you are there, help me never to doubt you so much that I lose hope, but never to be so certain about you that I lose faith.

Amen.


“If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith.”

Søren Kierkegaard


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  • Craig Anderson

    Thanks for this. Frankly I clicked on “Comments” not intending to leave one but curious about how others may have reacted. Part of me wanted to read something by someone (benignly) wanting to help ( or “fix” :-( ) you, in the hopes that in spite of their motives they might write something I would find helpful for my own situation, which is similar to yours. May God continue to bless and use you. Thanks for your thoughtful frankness.

  • TimP

    Amen and Amen. You describe my situation so well. Thanks Emma

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/100000930100223/ Rebecca Beesley

    this is exactly where i am right now. thank you. x

  • Cindy

    Hi Emma….thank you for sharing your heart musings. I wonder, have you read Greg Boyd’s book “The Benefit of the Doubt”? It addresses this very issue. I’m so glad that there are many Jesus followers who have real questions too!

  • Paul

    It’s like you’ve read my mind and written down exactly what I’m thinking/feeling. Thank you Emma for these words.