From: Losing Hope
Subject: My Faith Is Dying
Dear Dedicated Christian,
I was once as earnest and as vicarious in my faith as you seem to be now. I would have the close encounters with the presence I thought to be God and I would even experience the sensation of God’s words being spoken to me in prayer. It’s not that I never gave my life to Jesus Christ, as I learned to do in the Christian church, it is just that I don’t feel God’s presence in my life. In fact, life itself now seems meaningless. I have gotten to the point where I feel more carefree when I am not in church, and to be honest, everything within me wants to just be done with it all.
I do not know why I feel this way. What I do know is that I am moving toward believing that God doesn’t exist at all and my greatest struggle is dealing with the fact that I have wasted so much time pretending to follow a God who may not even be there. I realized that the encounters I had with God in the climax of my faith resulted as my own imagination took me to places far away from my problems and locked me within the realm of euphoria. My own thoughts disguised themselves as the voice of God in my own mind; but they were only thoughts, the ones that prevailed.
If God is real, how is it that I could give my life to Him and still be this way?
From: Dedicated Christian
Subject: Re: My Faith Is Dying
Dear Losing Hope,
I fear that, at least here in America, those belonging to the Christian faith fail to realize the meaning of Christ’s Gospel. Throughout the entirety of scripture, we are constantly reminded that those who belong to God will suffer for Christ’s name’s sake until our Lord returns to vanquish all corruption on this earth. We are reminded to stand firm (Ephesians 6), to count every trial as a blessing (James 1:12), that we will endure suffering while we are in this world (John 16:33).
In fact, Paul also describes suffering as evidence of the Kingdom of God reigning within us (2 Thessalonians 1:5-7). There is a reason anyone would feel more carefree while living in the world and apart from God. It is because we have no need to care and no absolute standard to live up to. The suffering that the Holy Spirit places within us, to convict us and to shape us and to use us, is proof that we have life.
I am also afraid that, as human beings, we place far too much trust in ourselves to carry the weight of the faith that has been entrusted to us. Your faith may be dying, but God’s faithfulness stays constant. You may feel as though you have wasted your life pretending to believe something that may not be true. Christian people are forced into pretending to have faith because we, much too often, are convinced that our faith depends on us. I would advise that we all stop trying to have faith and genuinely seek to know God. It is not our job to be holy. It is our responsibility to seek God, even if to do so, we have to shred our list of life philosophies and start over. You don’t have to pretend, just seek God.
If you were convinced before that the encounters you had with God were legitimate encounters, they very well may have been. I remember going parasailing a few summers ago. I recall the experience and how great it was but I cannot relive the experience in my mind. As I tell the story and describe my feelings as I hovered one thousand feet above the earth, I realized that it cannot be fully experienced, either by me or by my audience. Encounters with God, in my experience, are much the same. It is unmistakable as we hear God or feel His presence because we are being exposed to something so divinely foreign. After the fact, and as time moves on, we may remember the experience but cannot fully realize that experience aside from it happening again. Thus, we are more prone to thinking of those experiences in light of our own limited imagination. Thus, they become, to us, little more than our own rational thinking or a dream.
My advice: pick a day and spend all day with just God. Read His Word. Tell Him how you feel and what you’re thinking. Most importantly, listen. We encounter God when we genuinely seek Him. This should be a regular thing in the life of every Christian, but the sad reality is, we are content with having Jesus for three hours a week or less. Relationships, in any capacity, are 24/7.
I hope that you are able to discover God’s faithfulness again,
P.S. Wouldn’t you rather overcome your problems than try to escape them?