It’s time for a confession – I’ve been suffering a massive crisis of faith for many years. The cause? Simply put, a feeling that, because of all the things which I have endured in my life, God simply abandoned me.
It’s really not that uncommon a feeling, I’ve come to find out. As humans, I have learned that at some point – actually, innumerable points – we feel the deity which we have sworn unwavering allegiance to had chosen to toss our lives upon a proverbial pyre of foolish dreams and good intentions. One need only to look upon the dreams and hopes of starving artists to see this assertion come to light.
This, of course, brought me to my ongoing crisis of faith. Why does God seem to look upon me as being unworthy of favor? How can I atone for the sins of my past? Is it simply enough to “accept” or “submit”? Is a wholesale conversion from what I know to be right necessary? After all, the world is replete with tales of how Jack or Jill chose to “find religion,” whichever one it was and, within seeming seconds of this event, the clouds parted, sunbeams shined down upon them, and every blessing and earthly trapping we could imagine became theirs. It was as though they simply turned a key, embraced a “new you,” and walked into the sun after years of torment and anguish. Why not take this alleged “hard way” if the rewards equals effort?
Here’s the answer, and it’s not the popular one – it’s never that simple, nor that easy, and God is not an ATM of rewards and favor drawn from deposits of verbal faith and fealty sworn.
Yes, there are examples of God’s favor being showered upon the faithful, and those who believe receiving the perceived “instant karma” of good equaling reward. This sounds appealing because it jibes with our notion of the Law of Attraction – like attracts like. Still, there are multiple examples of the faithful being ignored, afflicted, even outright smitten by the Almighty – Job among the most famous. But it seems that for every one example of pain and suffering of the faithful, there are hundreds, even thousands, of examples of those enjoys the blessings of the omnipotent and omniscient one upon choosing to embrace the “true faith.”
To call it “confusing” is the understatement of the universe, and there are no easy answers.
Part of the problem stems from the simple fact there is no proof of a hereafter, or that God really exists – the empirical, in fact, seems to disprove this notion at every turn. Rather than see a remarkable occurrence, such as choosing to not board a doomed flight, or being late to a meeting at a building which is damaged in a deadly fire, we often look for an earthly explanation. We focus on what we our senses tell is real – what we can see, touch, smell, hear or taste. Instead of considering a greater plan, or a higher involvement, we dismiss such things as bunk, superstition, and straight up insanity. Logic must rule the day, reason must be respected above faith. Prosperity is almost always either the stuff of hard work, or of ill-gotten gains. There can be no in-between.
What if there’s really something more to it than just that? What if reason and faith are meant to co-mingle, to be equal to one another? It would certainly explain some things about life with greater cohesion. Rather than simply being the hardworking individual, a wealthy man’s fortune could be owed to some divine intervention. Consider this – many in positions of power and wealth become that way through connections, hard work and, some would say, blind luck. But yet, many of these power brokers eventually fall from grace, done in by their own hubris, poor choices, circumstances, or a combination of these factors and others. Would it not be reasonable to consider that they were offered prosperity as a test of their faith, to determine if they could perform the delicate balancing act which requires prosperity to work in service to faith?
Today’s so-called “megachurch” leaders are a prime example of this. Many leaders of these circuses of faith have amassed great fortunes, great power and influence, and flaunt that influence both unknowingly and in plain sight. They drive fancy cars, fly in private jets, and live the lifestyle so many of us covet. We love them, adore them, rest laurels upon their seemingly halo-donned heads, only to later see them fall from grace, and watch as they flail against their own personal night, blaming everyone for their ills except themselves. Oh yes, they display righteous indignation towards themselves, but when we drill deeper, there is little left but an empty shell – persons who have abandoned their own principles, chosen spiritual apostasy and sacrificed their own values upon the altar of financial and political expediency.
I do not claim to have all the answers, far from it. I can’t even find an answer to the crisis of faith I am enduring. I have enough sinful occurrences in my life to fill an few thousand libraries. I have experienced all forms of ill, and I continue to suffer, but this is about exploration, the deepest exploration one could undertake – the exploration of the soul.
I hope this and future writings will help you find some comfort in the craziness we all endure, because it’s something which I am working to square in my own life and, by doing this, perhaps I can help others.