R.L. Stollar has nailed it once again. And I oh.so.relate. Here he talks about the days when instead of praying, “help me with my unbelief,” he screams out this instead:
But it’s even harder when you are like me, when you daily wrestle with depression and suicidal thoughts. When life isn’t just filled with pain and suffering, but rather life becomes a monster that isn’t content to stay under your bed. It rises up in the middle of the night, shadowy and distended and grotesque. It grabs you by the throat and shakes you like you are a baby in the hands of an abuser; it rattles your bones and chills your blood and throws you like a rag doll on the ground.
Those are the days and nights it just isn’t enough to say, “Help my unbelief.”
Those are the days and nights when you can only muster enough energy to curl into a ball and rock back and forth in pain. “Help my unbelief” is the last thing on your mind, with “Help my belief” following it.
“Help me stay alive.”
Help me to last until tomorrow.
I need to be honest: on those days and nights, no. I do not believe.
He then goes on to say that some days he believes in heaven. Other days he does not.
I remember as a kid, I used to believe belief systems were all or nothing. I guess that’s the priviledge of being a kid. You just sort of accept belief systems at face value. You don’t question them. So of course, a Christian always believes in God.
Except that I did doubt God.
I remember at nine years old laying in bed at night tapping myself to see if I was real. Was I the imagination of my dolls? I wasn’t sure, but I sure doubted my existence.
Again during my teenage years, I doubted. My life was hell. Where was God? I doubted.
Some days I believe.
Some days I pray, “Help me with my muster seed.”
Other days I hide from God.
Other days I just hope he doesn’t exist.
The atheists say I am weak for holding onto faith. I’m supposed to let it all go. God’s not here. He doesn’t answer prayers. I’m all alone. Just let it go, they say.
The Christians think I am weak for doubting. I’m not strong in my faith. I’m weak in my faith. Or so they say. (I would argue that it takes courage to believe after the hurendous evils I’ve seen. I say this makes me strong in faith. But we are not in a faith competition here, nor do I think God much cares.)
I love God, but I don’t always believe. This is part of the struggle of earth. We are disconnected from each other and from God. We are in the process of learning to connect. For some of us, the roads are bumpier than others.
Why the heck do we get so wrapped up in belief?
I get it. As kids the world looked black and white. Either we believe all the time, or we don’t believe at all. But now that I am an adult I have a different perspective. I see that beliefs don’t work that way.
Some people believe when they wish God were dead, when it would be easier to come to grasp with pain if God didn’t exist. Yet there they are, face to face to God, unable to deny him.
Some people don’t believe in God when they desperately want God to be real. As my ex-Christian friends have described it, it’s like waking up and realizing Santa’s not real even though you want Santa to be real.
Some people go out into the land of Canaan and experience God and his goodness. They love God and are so near to him. But then the next week they loose all courage to believe, perhaps because they are depressed, or perhaps because faith just slipped away.
I used to believe only losers drink from the fountain of God and then later forget him. When I read the Bible, I saw a God who mocked people like me. He mocked people who were blessed one day and worshiped the golden cow the next.
But then I met another side of God, the God who came to earth so that we might see.
So we might see.
Because he understands that we live in the tension between the seen and the not seen, between the already and not yet, between the then and the now.
Faith isn’t always static. Some days I believe. Some days I don’t.
But all the time God sustains me. If you get a chance, thank him for this.