The existence of a God seems to be a touchy subject these days. Everyone I know, knows someone who is either leaving their faith, declaring they are Agnostic or Atheist, questioning their faith or having a faith “crisis”. I have had friends and loved ones over the years declare that believing in God is a joke and for people who are gullible and easy to sway. It can be hard for someone to believe that an intelligent individual could believe in a God. I have had my fair share of accusations of people telling me that I only believe because I was brainwashed by my parents. I have even been excluded from being someone’s friend because of what I believe.
I realize that it can be difficult to believe in a being that you can neither hear nor see. It can be difficult to believe in a loving and compassionate Supreme Being who allows such evil and hatred to continue in the world. It can be hard to believe that a loving God would allow so many birth defects, illnesses, abuses, depression and terrorism to exist.
Why would God, if he really loved us and wanted us to be happy, allow such horrible things to exist in the world? Why would a loving God allow me to be raped at 8 years old and again at 13 years old if he really truly existed and loved me? Why would he allow what seems like a lifetime of depression to consume my existence?
Life is really hard. People can be ugly and even evil. Lives can be destroyed. I feel like I spent years asking myself those same questions over and over again. I was sure that if there was a God, that he hated me. My parents may have taught me what they believed about God, but at a certain point, I couldn’t live off of their beliefs anymore. I had to discover for myself if it was true or not. I had to make an effort. If I was going to keep attending church, I had to know for myself.
I was in a pretty low place at the time. I felt unloved and unlovable. I was empty and lonely and longed to feel worth something. I didn’t just want to feel worth something, I wanted to feel anything. I couldn’t feel anything, I was numb. I hoped there was a God out there listening to my prayers, but I didn’t know for sure. So I said a prayer. If James (from the New Testament) says that you can ask God and he will answer you (James 1:5), you might as well give it a shot right? There are others who have claimed to get answers this way, I decided to give it a try.
I didn’t get an immediate epiphany, I got a feeling, a thought of something I needed to do. It wasn’t outside of the teachings I had been given in church, in fact, the opposite. I felt the need to repent of past and even present mistakes and misdeeds. Mistakes that I felt were minor, personal and didn’t affect anyone but me. I battled with the idea of repenting for something like that, because first of all, it would be embarrassing, and second, it didn’t affect anyone but me. I finally decided that I would give it a try. It was quite a leap of faith on my part. I really didn’t understand why I was doing it, and was afraid of humiliation.
When I went and confessed my sins, I had a huge lump in my throat. I felt sick, and the response of my religious leader wasn't exactly what I had hoped. I felt like an idiot. Why? Why would I go and confess personal sins to a clergyman who didn’t even really know who I was? But remember, I was taking a leap of faith.
I went home upset and shut the world out. I expressed my embarrassment and frustration to the being I was seeking answers about. “ I was obedient to the feeling, I have been reading my scriptures, I pray to you every morning and night. Why weren’t you there today? I confessed my sins and you weren’t there for me. I was humiliated.” I expressed. “I thought you cared about me. That’s what they have taught us at church. I have been depressed for as long as I can remember. I have been on brink of suicide, I have had a plan. I felt like you may have been there that day, and that’s why I didn’t do it, but where are you?” My heart was broken. I wanted to know the truth. What I didn’t realize then, was that I was kneeling before God and offering myself up with a “broken heart”, and a “contrite spirit”. I didn’t just want someone to tell me the truth, I wanted to know from the bottom of my heart whether he really existed and if he really loved me.
It becomes clear to me now as I look back, that my heartache was intended to turn me to him. To get me to seek out answers for myself. To give me a reason to really ask the why and who and what. If I had never experienced deep agonizing pain and heartache, I never would have turned to him for answers, and he wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to bless me with the sweet and pure and perfect answer he gave to me that night.
My experience that night was very personal and not something I will make light of by sharing all of the details. But God made himself known to me that day. He let me know of his existence, and he let me know of his love for me. Not only did he let me feel his love for me, he let me feel the love that he has for each and every one of his precious children. If you are on this earth, he has created you and he has a special interest in you. Heavenly Father loves you more than you could ever imagine, and wants so desperately for you to turn to him. He wants for you to look to him for the answers of your life. He won’t leave you hanging, and he won’t leave you disappointed if you really truly want to have answers for yourself. You don’t have to ask me if he exists, you can know for yourself. He will answer you in a way that is unique to you, in his own special way.
Take a leap of faith. Look to him. Seek him out. Ask for answers. If you have a feeling and it seems to follow the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, take a leap of faith and do it. Don’t allow yourself to continue to walk in darkness. You have a God who replaces all fear with hope, all pain with patience and all the dark places of your life with light. You are not alone in your agony. There is hope and light at the end of your dark tunnel. There is life after death. There is peace after pain.
Don’t give up. Look to him.
Happy New Year