As Christians, most of us have times where we wonder, “Is all of this even real?” Times when we question the intellectual plausibility of faith. Times when the life of faith just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Times when the mountaintop experiences fade into months, even years, of “not really feeling it?”
There are essentially two ways to respond in these times, two ways to wrestle with faith.
One the one hand, we can suspend faith and worship, and demand that God first satisfy our doubts and concerns. We basically only trust in God when he is coming through for us, according to our timing and our concerns. We’re committed to God as bandwagon fans are committed to their team; which is to say, we’re not really committed to God, but to the success he can give us.
He must answer to us, he must bow to our timetables. Our questions, feelings, and needs have ultimate authority.
This is what I did for about three years; and it was the darkest, deadest time of my life. I put God in the dock, and wasn’t willing to trust him until he bowed to my intellectual demands for certainty and proof.
But there is another, much more healthier way to doubt and wrestle with faith. And that is to continue to worship God, and trust that he has satisfying answers to our questions, even if we can’t see them right now. When faith doesn’t seem to be paying off, when we’re just not feeling it, we continue to submit to Him as Lord, Savior, and Judge.
Exercising faith in these times often doesn’t seem like it’s “doing” much. We might not see any tangible results. But in reality, these small decisions to believe while in the trenches are powerful and have lasting effects.
And that is because our struggles with faith are never only about needing intellectual confirmation, needing tangible proof, or the like. Struggles with faith also include the element of pride. We are unwilling to let God be God, unwilling to trust his knowledge to be vaster than ours, and his purpose to be differing (and better) than ours. We want him to meet us on our terms.
Acknowledging this, and more importantly, repenting of it, allows us to doubt and wrestle with purpose—not ignoring our questions and doubts, but also not holding them as demands over God’s head–and to come out stronger at the end.
“A God who can be addressed, to whom can be addressed even the complaint that he is deaf, constitutes the only hope that injustice will not have the final say in life. Faith in this God, in the face of contradiction, matters in a way which makes the easy agnosticism of the modern West seem trivial.” –Richard Bauckham