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Faith and Faltering – A Conversation About Questioning God

The following is an actual Facebook conversation from august 2011.  Only the names have been changed.  I would enjoy hearing your comments!

George:

I’d like to ask all of my facebook friends to take a few moments and ask our heavenly Father to hold my friend, John Doe, in His loving hands and offer John the healing He promises. Jim has a cancerous brain tumor that is too large for radiation and has been transferred to Peoria for a surgery, yet to be scheduled. His wife, Jane, also needs all of our prayers, both for safe travel, and to ease her worries over John’s recovery. We ask, in Jesus’ name, that Jim would be healed and allowed to continue his life’s work of spreading God’s love and sharing his testimony. Amen

Me:

How is your friend John Doe doing, George?

George:

I don’t have the latest, but as I was informed, the surgery was successful in that the tumor was completely removed. The Doctors seemed very positive as to his recovery and eventual return to health. We are praying for his wife in particular. She really is a sweet person who lives moment to moment and wears her heart on her sleeve. Jane is her name. How mighty a God is our God!

Me:

Glad to hear that John is doing well. You are certainly right; there is nothing that God cannot do. However, I have to admit that my faith is not strong enough to be unquestioning; I often don’t understand why He does and allows the things He does. In this case, though, it sounds like prayers of thanksgiving are in order. Glad to hear it!

George:

The only thing I have to say is that The Bible isn’t a menu and our faith isn’t an ala carte situation. I, like you, had a view that there was lots of parts that needed scrutiny. Indeed, there are, but not in His word. The rub comes when we try to analyze divine wisdom through the eyes of finite understanding. No doubt, in your place and line of work, the questions arise. How could a god of love accept such brutality? We just can’t know what He has planned. There is a purpose in each detail of God’s work. I asked Him why my best friend had to die in that car crash back in 1967. What reason could it serve to take the father of a child simply because he was serving his country in 1969? What put me in the places I was in that .. I told Him that I wanted none of what He was selling, PERIOD.

In acknowledging the existence of God, we have to grant that He is all powerful and all knowing. We also have to accept that Satan is real and always ready to pounce on us in our times of weakness. When I falter, it’s almost always due to that little bastard sitting on my left shoulder telling me that I’m not strong enough or not good enough, or that there was this ONE sin that God just can’t let go. For lack of a more precise term, BULLSHIT! John 3:16 says: “God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son, so that we would have everlasting life.” That’s good enough for me.

Me:

I understand. When we had been married only a year, my mother-in-law was killed in a head-on collision by teenagers drag racing and going in the opposite direction out near our home town. She was returning home from a ladies meeting at Church. Of her 6 children, 3 remained at home – the youngest daughter was only 8. Years later, while living in St. Louis, I observed as the  pastor at our local Baptist Church experienced the loss of a beautiful, Godly 13 year old daughter to cancer.  Here in Afghanistan, I witness the abuse of women everywhere, and although it is more hidden from western eyes, the sexual abuse of young boys is a pervasive dimension of Afghan culture. In China, the government still removes second-or-more daughters from homes, or severely punishes parents who insist on keeping them, even today. Then there is Somalia, Haiti, and on and on.

God has been very, very good to me, George – blessed me with opportunities and in other ways far beyond anything I could ever have reasonably expected. But even so, my faith is imperfect at best, and it falters frequently. That doesn’t make God wrong; it makes me wrong. But it is still a fact. As far as the Bible – and our faith – not being an “ala carte situation”, of course you are right. But both before and after we are saved, we ALL sin. (“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”) Any sin, whether it is as terrible as murder, or as trivial as over-eating, is unacceptable in God’s eyes, and justifies our eternal punishment in Hell. That fact doesn’t keep me from being less concerned about gluttony than child abuse, and less concerned that God allows pornography than that God allows murder.

I understand that God is omniscient and that He has a plan. I also believe that even though He is omnipotent, God held Himself responsible for allowing sin to enter the world, and paid for it with the sacrifice of His own Son on the cross. In doing so, He covered our sin as well, and we are correct to be grateful for that sacrifice.

I do find it interesting that God had a choice, and allowed sin to enter the world. As an omnipotent God, He could have prevented that from happening. After Adam, none of us had a choice; we were born with a sinful nature. That, of course, is “above my pay grade”; which is another way of reaching the same conclusion you reached: I cannot understand an infinite God with a finite mind.” When we read in the Old Testament of God telling the children of Israel to kill their enemies – not only the enemy’s warriors, but the women, children, and even the animals, we think: How could God command the children of Israel to be so incredibly cruel?” again, the answer is “We can’t understand an infinite God with a finite mind.” Over here in Afghanistan, the Taliban indiscriminately kill civilian men, women, and children – even using mentally challenged individuals as suicide bombers. And we think: “How could the Taliban be so cruel?” I wonder if their answer to us wouldn’t be: “You cannot understand an infinite Allah with a finite human mind. Especially in infidel’s mind.”  In the end, George, there is no explaining it. Not for us, and not for the Taliban. We all have to accept what God does, and what we believe He is telling us to do, on faith. Because faith – for ALL of us, is all there is.

What do you think?

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