Like most people, I struggle with the concept of God. But despite my doubts, I still believe.
There is a mystery to God. Following Him is a struggle. And I don’t think I’m alone.
I have trouble, for example, with many of the so-called pillars of the Christian faith – stories such as “Adam and Eve” and the Resurrection come to mind.
I have trouble with the churches’ services themselves. They have become ritualized. Parishioners go through the motions of their services. And many don’t know what much of it means.
And there appears to be no room for non-conformists, free thinkers, etc. Though they don’t say it aloud, the churches are suggesting worshiping God their way or you’re not welcomed.
In our search for meaning, we are told in the Christian faith to “seek the Kingdom of God and it will be added onto you” (Luke 12:31). Sadly, the Kingdom of God does not go through our houses of worship.
I sometimes wonder if there even is a God. And if I could prove there is a God, faith would be impossible.
I’ve always wondered if God loves me. To love, one is to be validated, made to feel important. If he loves me, how come all I know is pain and suffering?
And why worship God? It’s more adhering to His values that His teachings represent. To love. To serve. Even to suffer. For without suffering, it has been written, we do not learn and grow.
I have to keep reminding myself our Creator always loves; He builds. He never destroys. He wants the best for His children.
Is He worthy of my trust? What’s the alternative? I have a host of psychological ailments. Without God, I’d be lost. With God, it gives me a reason to “let go and let God.” But it’s never easy.
All religious people have doubts. We all go through our “agnostic” moods. I find a person more credible if that person doubts than believes with absolute certainty. Even Christ doubted as He was being crucified when He cried out to his Father: “Have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27:46)
Can one be good without God? Of course. There are many fine atheists and non-believers as well as miserable religious followers.
And even though non-believers may not believe in a God, I also believe that values, virtues such as empathy, kindness, compassion, etc., that non-believers practice originate from our religions, handed down through the ages.
Here are a few things that make me believe in a Power greater than myself. These cannot be proven. Nor can they be disapproved. But they make me think.
1. The concept of “synchronicity”. There are those who believe this is God’s way of remaining anonymous.
We all think about a name, place and, then, see it later. But is there a reason for these “coincidences?”
2. Anxiety attacks, certain depressions, other symptoms of mental illnesses. Dr. M. Scott Peck in his book “The Road Less Traveled” writes these pains originate from the subconscious mind. Or God. These pains are not the illness but the beginning of the cure. Feelings reflect something wrong with us spirituality, our whole being. The pains are there for us to examine our lives and administer repair.
I know in my own case, when I confront anxiety and depression, these are not lifted until I find what is wrong. Once I discover the spiritual malady, the pain is lifted.
3. Laws/rules in place, when put to work, our lives become better from “unexpected” sources.
German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote: “until one is committed, there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”
4. There are other feelings that I wonder about: When we do well, we feel good. When we do bad things, we feel bad. Where do these feelings come from? Are we programmed this way? Is there some “computer chip” inside our brain? Or is it God talking to us?
5. And there are other feelings that I question: déjà vu, taste and other senses from the past. And then, there is the concept of “recognize” which means to “re-know”. As in we recognize something from another life, another time. Finally, the concept of reincarnation. People believe they have lived past lives. Is this God at work or is it all wishful thinking?
6. If there is no God, who created spiritual values like love and compassion? Where does wisdom come from? Who created right from wrong?
7. The religious believe that there will be some form of accountability/judgment before God one day. The non-believers do not. To non-believers, I ask this: If there is no God to answer to, what’s holding them back chasing hedonistic pleasures and other vices and sins?
8. If the atheists feel that the religious have made a mess of things, why don’t the atheists correct the injustices of the world? Eliminate poverty. Close the gap between rich and poor. Fix all the socials ills of the world.
Though I’m sure atheists try to make the world a better place, my experience is that those groups who address the above problems are religious in nature.
So, where is God? Poet Carl Sandberg once prayed and no one was there. We’ve all gone through our empty times wondering where God is. As I learned from 12 step literature, even though it may be cloudy, the sun is still shining.
We are created in the image of God. We are an extension of Him. It is, through us, God is alive, doing His work.
Just a few areas where, I think, God is present:
10. God is even present through certain pains particularly those that are truly curable. For without pain, we don’t ask, question about life and all its meaning. As Aristotle once said:”A life unexamined is not worth living.”
11. And, yes, God is present when tragedy befalls His children. He did not create these tragedies. But he is present to help His children to pick up the pieces, to put their lives back together.
God is present when we come together when tragedies strike – like flooding, hurricanes, 9/11 - donating food, money, even our blood to perfect strangers.
God gives us the will to live despite going against incredible odds.
If there is no God, where does the will to continue come from?
And even though non-believers may not believe in God, they are still doing His work when they practice many of the above principles.
Non-believers say with God, it’s a pretty crazy world as it is. But without God, I believe, it would be worse.
If there were no God, there would be no structure, no order to confront all this craziness of this world. There would be no laws, no justice, no fighting for fairness. There would be no mercy. No second chances to start over. No redemption. There would be no forgivenes