Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hiddenness of God

Recently, my husband and I have been talking about the hiddenness of God. I alluded to it in my recent post on the resurrection, where I discussed my frustration over the ambiguous evidence regarding Jesus's resurrection. Did or didn't God perform the miracle of resurrection, the defeat of death, the sign of a general resurrection to come? My husband has struggled with the hiddenness of God in a different way. To him, it feels like a personal rejection. He says he feels like his prayers don't go higher than the ceiling. God seems to be ignoring him. He gave me permission to write this post, and wrote a summary of his thoughts for me to post:

Ayn Rand restated the “Law of Non-Contradition” from logic in her book, "Atlas Shrugged" in this way: “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

I cannot reject the fact that there is a God, but I cannot help but accept the fact that He has rejected me.

If God is the perfect model of what a father should be, how can I feel as if He has abandoned me for the last two years? Which of my premises is false?
1.) God is the perfect father.
2.) I am His son.
3.) I am rejected and ignored.
4.) A perfect father cares for, protects and has a relationship with his children.

I know that I cannot be seeing the whole picture. I accept that my perception has to be skewed, but I just cannot see my situation any other way. I am resolved to continue attending church and behaving as a “good Christian” should because I want my children to have the opportunity to have a relationship with God even though I feel He doesn’t want one with me.


How would you answer my husband's question about his premises? If you have had this experience, what conclusion did you reach?

35 comments:

  1. “How would you answer my husband's question about his premises? If you have had this experience, what conclusion did you reach?”

    Your husband has listed choices that assume God exists. In respect to him, I will try and answer the question with the same assumption – because I also once had to.

    Many years ago, I was a fervent believer who strove to share my faith with my unsaved workmates. I daily rode my bicycle to work, and I prayed to God to give me strength and wisdom throughout the day – along with the wisdom to know when to witness vocally, and when to shut up and just leave my virtuous actions as a witness.

    I would never admit it, but it was a chore. My friends were great – patient, fun and sometimes snarky, and they put up with my witnessing. But my witness bore no spiritual fruit. Time and again, my apologetics were shot to hell, people rarely accepted my invitation to attend church, and … frankly it was wearing me out.

    So I prayed. Every day before work, as I peddled in on my bike I prayed.

    And I remember the moment so well. As I was praying there on my bike one day, asking for strength for another day of witnessing my Faith in Jesus, and trying to convince myself that I was the only one who possessed a peace that passed all understanding, I realized that …

    … I was talking to myself.

    At least.. at least I suddenly realized that my prayer was no different than talking to myself. I could not tell the difference. And the effect was the same. I realized that my prayer was nothing more than a pep talk to myself.

    It was a shocking and scary feeling. If God is really there listening and answering my prayers, how can I tell? And how can I tell the effects and actions of my prayers apart from just talking to myself?

    It was a difficult question to face because I knew I had no answer. I asked my pastor if he ever felt like his prayers were turning into just talking to himself and what he did about it – he emphatically said that he never felt that way, and that his prayers were based on a relationship with a living God. That just confused me all the more – I thought I had a relationship too, after all…

    That was my first taste of facing the ‘hiddenness of God’. At the time, I never came to an answer. I guess I just figured I had to focus more on talking with God instead of letting my mind wander as I prayed, and rely on trust and faith, but… I never came up with any conclusive answers.

    continued...

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  2. I was very young at the time. I had not yet faced serious tragedy in my life that would make me cry out to a God who never seemed to answer. That finally happened about 5 years ago when a friend of my wife died of stomach cancer. She was here from Philippines on a work visa, and by some freak of nature, cancer grew inside her and spread very rapidly. She was in her mid-30s, some 7000 miles from home with 2 young children. Her Catholicism quickly became more charismatic, and she constantly read her NIV bible while in the hospital room. She prayed only to get well enough to be able to fly back home with her children so that she could die while in the care her family. God could not even answer that one selfless request. She died here in El Paso.

    I remember while she was sick, a group of us were going to visit her in the hospital. The bulk of us, in fact now that I am thinking of it, all of us visiting her were Catholic except for myself. I prayed for her silently, but felt like cajoling her friends into praying also. “Don’t you believe in a God who heals?? Let us meet together before our visit and collectively pray for her,” I wanted to say. But I did not. Deep inside, I knew it would make me look foolish.

    That is when I experienced the hiddenness of God in a much more profound and painful way. I think after that experience, I would have rejected premises 1 and 2. I still believed in God, but I in no way viewed him (or it) as personal or in any way caring for us. The notion that God was a loving father and a friend that sticks closer than a brother simply made no sense to me after that experience.

    Sorry for the long answer. Once I begin to type, the memories gush forth.

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  3. @HeIsSailing,

    "Sorry for the long answer. Once I begin to type, the memories gush forth."

    I know the feeling and I appreciated your sharing your experience. I seem to have diarrhea of the keyboard these days.

    DoOrDoNot,

    I simply don't know how to answer this question. I've also been told that “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” Is that our only option? That only one of our premises is wrong? Can it not be that three out of four of our premises are wrong? Maybe they all are and there is a fifth option. Having endured what seems like a never ending silence except for condemnation(which I'm surely heaping onto myself) I'm beginning to wonder if either the Calvinists have it right and I'm just not "elect" or there is no God, at least not the one depicted in the New Testament.

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  4. How…er…thick is your husband’s skin? My answers may not be appreciated.

    Yes, I certainly faced this. And yes, it was extremely troubling. Eventually I came to the conclusion it was irrelevant and made no difference between:

    1) No god exists;
    2) A god exists, but doesn’t care about humanity;
    3) A god exists, and cares, but will not communicate.

    One cannot tell the difference from this side of the equation. Thus the hiddenness of god doesn’t provide a single iota of information as to the existence of god. With the possible exception such hiddenness would conflict with claimed attributes of a god.

    One cannot say “God love you” and then describe a god who acts completely contrary to everything we understand by the word “love.” We wouldn’t call a wife-beating husband a person who “loves” simply by his stating, “I love my wife.” Why should we do so with a god?

    P.S. I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but that statement by Ayn Rand is just more confirmation she was utterly, totally and completely full of crap.

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  5. Hi,

    I just wrote a long response to this and I just lost it. Argg!

    The shorter version...

    First, I can relate. I have felt like your husband at times. But then there are times that I do feel that God is concerned for me. I have a theory about the God/Christianity issue but no time to get into it right now..

    I think I mentioned in another response the book "Come be my light" about Mother Theresa. Essentially she made a vow that she would do anything Jesus asked of her. Shortly after she felt that God had left her.

    St Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross both discuss this phenomenon. It's called "spiritual darkness" or something like this. Basically, the premise is that God becomes so close that he shines through, though you cannot feel it. It's also, I think, a way in which one participates in Jesus' sufferings.

    So I'd recommend "Come be my light" and "Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer" by Thomas Dubay if this interests you.

    There is discussion that Mother Theresa will become known as one of the church's great mystics.

    I think this is something that Catholicism/Orthodoxy has going for it: that there is an element of mystery; that not everything needs to be explained.

    For post-Enlightenment people, though, we want everything to be able to be explained. I do. It should make sense. And I'm cranky when it doesn't.

    It's possible that being a part of the church of Christ influences one to believe that everything spiritual can be logically explained. I feel/felt this way.

    I wonder whether our view of what a perfect father should be is not perfect?

    Conjecture.

    There's my two cents....

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  6. Great post. There are surely a lot of Christian answers, as IsToo has pointed out. Mysticism, spiritual darkness, the ebb-and-flow of closeness as a character/holiness builder, etc. Sure, they are all possible.

    I have some issues, though. Throughout the history of explanation, those which were simplest and still explained all of the phenomena have repeatedly proven themselves to be most accurate. This is true, or at least apologists want this to be true about god -- god needs to be simple. Presuming god does exist, then nature is his creation. It's laws are often simple. I recall pondering how in the world gravitational force could be described by (G*m1*m2)/(r^2) and electrostatic force was described by (k*q1*q2)/(r^2). Isn't that too good to be true?

    I digress. My point is that we strain away from the simplest conclusions oftentimes, because we don't want a conflict with our intuitive sense or prior beliefs. We start inventing other explanations that become incredibly complicated. To examine the hypothesis of god's mystical hiddenness and being so close he "shines through" without being seen/felt...

    - we somehow know his position/spiritual closeness
    - we know that when he is that "close" you cannot feel him
    - he is not spatial but has some ability to come spatially or spiritually or dimensionally "close"
    - this is how god helps us experience jesus' sufferings
    - despite lack of any evidence of these occurrences, we are to believe that this is what is happening
    - there are books written by people that a human hierarchy have determined are guaranteed to be in heaven; since their books explain this phenomenon, we can trust them

    Does anyone see issues with this? Compare this to any of DagoodS hypotheses:
    ,---
    | 1) No god exists;
    | 2) A god exists, but doesn’t care about humanity;
    | 3) A god exists, and cares, but will not communicate.
    `---

    The effects of the above three as well as the "spiritual darkness" premise are all the same -- perceived lack of any divine interaction. Which is the simplest? I would claim that at the very least, #2 is the rational response -- perhaps a deity exists (and this gets you by with cosmological issues and abiogenesis), but he/she does not interact. This by far handles lack of answered prayers, the problem of evil, etc. better than needing a complicated strategy to reconcile an omni-max being with all of the "inconsistencies."

    Don't forget that the typical apologetic hypotheses don't say anything about how they came to the hidden knowledge of god's mind/intentions that led them to theorize the complicated solution in the first place!

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  7. I'll be interested to talk with my husband tonight to see what he makes of all the comments. I always appreciate the range of opinion offered at this blog. It makes me think. We'll see if he feels like responding directly or not.

    HeIsSailing,
    What you describe as your experience while a Christian certainly sounds alot like what my husband is going through. He seems to be camping out at option 3 right now.

    D'Ma,
    I think you're right that there can be more than one premise that's incorrect. I think the intended meaning was that at least one premise was wrong, not that only one was wrong. This feeling of being nonelect is certainly not uncommon. It seems more miserable an option that there not being a God.

    DagoodS,
    Don't worry about my husband, his skin is thick. I actually expected to say pretty much what you said. What made me chuckle was the comment about Ayn Rand. If anything you said were to make my husband bristle, it would be that one. He happens to be a huge Ayn Rand fan. :) I'm not a fan, btw, but what about the quote was off to you?

    I gotta pick up my son now. More later.

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  8. IsToo,
    I've been meaning to check in with you, so I'm glad you stopped by. I'll have to hear your theory when you have the time. Yes, I do want to read your suggestions. I certainly see the attraction to more mystical approaches.I would be interested in reading specifically about the spiritual darkness as you described it. I do see suffering intrically tied to life and to growth, whatever the reason. More on that later. I've also wondered whether our view of the perfect father is correct. However, all we can do is base our conception on our human experiences, right? Any ideas about an alternative conceptualization?

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  9. Hendy,
    I do see what you mean about finding the simplest solution. We do need to be wary when our solutions get convoluted and complex.

    I was interested in the comment you made about gravitational and electrostatic forces. I know you no longer believe in God but what do you do about the fine tuning issue. It sounds like you may feel it poses some type of challenge for atheism to address. I know I've talked with individuals who feel like God is a simpler solution to the fine tuning issue than the multiverse solution. what are your thoughts?

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  10. WRT IsToo: my wife's a fan of Mother Teresa, and I've been reading some of John of the Cross. My wife likes to say "Don't doubt in the darkness what you saw in the light." There have been moments of light, and long stretches of silence--not as long as Teresa's, but long enough.

    So I concluded years ago that the wonderful inspirational stories of people who were in constant contact with God, and getting marvelous direction at every crossroads, were not normative. I don't say they were false (though I've known a few people who left out the "less inspiring" bits from their biographies), but they seem less relevant to my calling and gifts than something like 1Th 4:11-12. Although it'd be nice to have an attitude like Brother Lawrence's. One day I'll have to give it a serious try.

    But about moments of light... Our previous church broke up, apparently largely due to one man, and quite a few people are still very angry with him. I should be too (forgiveness likes to come unstuck with me), but one of those moments of light for me was associated with his work. I remember that little light in the middle of the decay and betrayal, and I'm sad but not angry with him. I know its a little thing in the big picture questions here, but it is a difference I can point to.

    And I know you didn't ask my opinion, but in my judgment the "multiverse solution" is proof that string theory as currently formulated is grotesquely incomplete. Of course I'm an experimentalist, not a theorist, but I'm in the field and get to gripe if I want to. :-)

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  11. DoOrDoNot,

    Thanks for the clarification. When I read Ayn Rand's quote and your husband's reaction to it I couldn't help but have flashbacks to a grade school criteria test. You know the questions that say, "Three of these are alike. One is different. Which one does not belong?"

    It's a common theme in my Church that we must "Stand on the Promises" regardless of how we feel or what see around us. The cognitive dissonance is to be ignored. :-)

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  12. I've been thinking about something like the subject of this post for a while.

    In Christianity, God is always expressed in terms of relationship.He is not just a force, or what holds things together on a fundamental level...He is a person and we are expected to cultivate a relationship with Him.

    Judaism began in this way. The Israelites believed they were special because they believed that God had a special relationship with them. Serving God was never about finding universal, moral truths. It was about doing what this God-being asked them to do and the blessing or cursing of Israel was directly tied to how well Israel held up their part of the relationship.

    You can see this in the prophets and how they describe God as an offended husband, or a grieving/outraged father. He is incensed because Israel has "let him down" so to speak.

    The thing about thinking of God as someone with whom we have a relationship is that it automatically causes us to have expectations of Him.

    Every relationship consists of at least two parties working with each other, giving and taking and reacting to one another and having a set of expectations. A wife expects her husband to love her and be faithful to her. If he doesn't love her, or is unfaithful to her....he has betrayed her and failed to live up to her expectations. She is rightly grieved. If loves her and is faithful to her she has a sense of well-being and peace in regards to her relationship with him.

    The problem is that God doesn't always fulfill our expectations. We feel betrayed, angered, outraged that He seems to care so little for us. WE have the feeling of the abandoned child, or the cuckolded spouse.

    The only way that I can think of to avoid this inevitable feeling of betrayal is to stop thinking of God as a person. The problem with this is that the majority of Judaism and Christianity wouldn't exist without this conception about God's "humanness/personality".

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  13. Terri,
    I agree, it is a personal, relationship-oriented God that raises questions about evil, inequity, suffering, being rejected.

    What to do about this I don't know. I don't think one can jettison this view completely without destroying the core of Judaism and Christianity.

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  14. DoOrDoNot,

    Hi! You asked about "alternative conceptualizations." It's true, that we rely on our experiences to learn things, including about God. I wonder, if looking at the Hebrew Bible (OT to Christian folk) if God isn't acting exactly as he did back then, if we look at people's experiences that have been written here. In many of the OT stories God at least appears to be disinterested, or it takes him a while to be interested (ie Exodus? How many Hebrew baby boys were killed before God got involved with Moses?) We are taught to believe that God is all good, all knowing and all powerful, right? So we expect something that maybe we shouldn't. Perhaps what we were taught isn't quite right.

    Again with me and the Jewish thought. Harold Kushner wrote a book about "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People." In it he talks about God as also suffering with us as bad things happen; that he is not able to intervene. This would explain some things, right? But this is exactly where Christian readers of this book get "jacked up" if you will- because it calls the all-powerfulness of God into question.

    A note about the core of Judaism and Christianity as you wrote in your response to Terri. Christianity, as we know, is definitely based on the personal relationship to God (this can morph somewhat into the corporate relationship of the church to God in some traditions.) What is interesting to me about Judaism is that it is not essential that a person believe in the personal-relationship type God at all. There is some thought out there that God is more of a creating force, etc, etc. These things have developed over time, but the idea that people need to wrestle with the scriptures and argue with each other - to continue development of understanding is essential to Judaism. What separates Judaism and Christianity, at least from what I can see, is that Judaism is more focused on how to live ethically here and not so much on having the right doctrine. You will not be cast away in Judaism for not believing in the personhood of God. Where in Christianity, while how you live is important, what you believe about God in terms of doctrine can be more important. Hence Catholic/Protestant wars, etc etc.

    I'd be interested to know what your husband thinks about all of the responses :-)

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  15. When I go to church or read about liberal/progressive scholars having faith while still acknowledging the conflicts in the Bible, I feel much the same as your husband. If there is a God, I don't seem to believe in him no matter how much I try, and since others can somehow manage to believe in him, there must be some problem with me. Like Hendy discussed, in science there is a theory, Ockham's razor, that favors the simplest explanation. For me, God's absence coupled with my doubts in Jesus would all seem to imply that there is no God. Like your husband, I assume that my perceptions may be flawed, but that often leads to emotional distress or feeling unelect.

    I recently read a book on doubt "Faith at the Edge: A Book for Doubters by Robert N. Wennberg" that was not all that helpful for me, but I think might be helpful for your husband. In it, he discusses heavily St. John of the Cross, Mother Theresa, and Cs Lewis Screwtape Letters. I would probably suggest going to these sources before reading Wennberg's book, but the latter is easy reading. None of them really get at the issues of reason and believing that I have, but more the absence of God while still believing him to be true.

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  16. Like A Child,
    I'll pass on your book recommendation, though I'm sure my husband's read your post by now. It does sound like it might be helpful. He's reading St. John of the Cross right now.

    IsToo,
    Maybe we should just become Jewish :) My husband considered composing a response here but his thoughts and emotions are too jumbled to write a coherent comment right now. He said he might compose a reply I could use as a post in the future. He's read and thought about all the comments.

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  17. I swing back and forth between two conclusions:

    1-I am not of the Elect.

    2-There is no God.

    There are plenty of other conclusions I've come to over the years also. I still don't know which conclusion is actually correct.

    I'm sure most pastors have had a certain percentage of the congregation sitting in their office saying, "I don't know if I'm really a Christian or not. What if I'm not of the Elect?"

    In this scenario, I've concluded that this small percentage have personalities that cause them to doubt, OR this small percentage are deciding there's something wrong with them, when REALLY there's something wrong with the Bible or at least the religion itself, and they've caught on to that fact. (Of course you'd probably not consider the latter possibility, and if you did consider it, you'd not say it to the pastor. And if you did say it, he'd say, no, that's not the answer.)

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  18. DoOrDoNot,

    The Rand quote is one of those cute, pithy statements that sound good at first, but upon reflection one realizes it is not helpful; it does not provide any progress.

    Great…a premise is incorrect. How does one go about resolving that? Perhaps all the premises are incorrect, perhaps they are mis-phrased, perhaps the conclusion does not follow from the premise, even though it is correct.

    Really—what new information does Rand provide? Quantum physics and theory of relativity break down at the Planck time. They contradict. So which premise is incorrect? Yet even with possible “incorrect” premise, we develop computers to talk to each other.

    As to your husband…

    Frankly, he sounds like an abused victim. Like beaten spouses, he continues to maintain the other person really does love him…that he must be doing something wrong. Ever talk to a wife who was (is) beaten? “He loves me; I did kinda deserve it for not bringing him dinner fast enough.” Always finding personal fault rather than realizing it is the Beater who is at fault—not the beaten.

    That is what I hoped he had thick enough skin for.

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  19. DagoodS says: Frankly, he sounds like an abused victim. Like beaten spouses, he continues to maintain the other person really does love him…that he must be doing something wrong. Ever talk to a wife who was (is) beaten? “He loves me; I did kinda deserve it for not bringing him dinner fast enough.” Always finding personal fault rather than realizing it is the Beater who is at fault—not the beaten.

    That's actually quite a good analogy. We scurry around trying to be "good enough" even though we're told over and over again we won't ever be. Ever been given the silent treatment? After a while the silence becomes deafening. Some people stay in denial forever, but if you opened your eyes to reality you realize it's really very difficult, if not down right impossible, to have a one-sided relationship.

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  20. I just talked yesterday with my husband about why his default position seemed to be one of self blame in regards to his relationship with God. He really couldn't articulate why. I do think as Christians our default position is to blame the sinner rather than the savior of sins. He may just be reflecting his religious upbringing. I'm not really sure why I haven't taken on that position. I may just be too narcissistic.

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  21. D'Ma,
    BTW, yesterday I was out at a restaurant in Memphis and saw your twin. It was uncanny how much the woman resembled your photo.

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  22. Hi again,

    I'm at the end of a graduate school seminar right now, and just was reading some stuff about post-modernism; objective truth is not possible because everything is colored by the perceiver, if you will.

    I was also thinking about yoga theory and things related to it. In Hinduism there are a bunch of gods, which in some circles are described as each one being a facet (of a whole lot of facets) of a single God. Also, no requirements necessarily on what one believes here. I find it interesting that the books i've read about yogis and the like have some pretty amazing stories that they write actually happened to them.

    So, I wonder, where does this leave us? If we are all wrong about Christianity- or Monotheism in the broader view- does this negate the existence of a god or God of any kind? Or are we approaching it from too narrow an angle?

    Now I'm just rambling.

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  23. DoOrDoNot,

    They say that everyone has a twin. I promise I've been right here in South Georgia the whole time! *grin*

    IsToo,

    I was reading about this on another blog. The woman now considers herself an atheist, but she remembers being on the mission field and people miraculously being healed when they were anointed with oil, hands were layed on them and prayers offered up to the Christian God.

    That reminded me of a debate I watched where Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston faced off against Micheal Shermer and Sam Harris. Some of the audience members reported having miraculous healing results from transcendental meditation. Kind of makes me think that the mind has some miraculous healing powers if we have faith that we will be healed no matter the object of that faith. Now I'm rambling....sorry DoOrDoNot.

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  24. D'Ma,

    Yes, I agree... I too wonder how much our minds have to do with whether prayers are answered, etc. I had a friend in college who told me that Christianity is the power of positive thinking...I think it's deeper than that- that our minds may have more power than we think. Andrew Weil touches on this in terms of health in some of his books...

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  25. On the healing tangent:

    I heard an interesting theory about how the placebo effect worked to evolutionary advantage. Basically our bodies have amazing capacities for self-healing but it requires so much energy that there has to be a trigger. For some people, suggestion or faith in an authority can be that trigger.
    I think its too simplistic to say that it is just a mind cure, however. Otherwise, how would it work on people who were skeptical as I have seen on occasion?

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  26. Seems simple, but notice that everyone is looking to past experiences and themselves internally. You are talking about God. He said to look up and to look to Him for your needs and questions and true ultimate fulfillment.

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  27. Nobody is looking at this anyway, but another thread with many of these comments is that no-one seems to be taking into account the fact that Jesus does know what it is like to be rejected and "forsaken" as He cried from the cross. His first words in ministry were "repent" not get a practical answer and share your experiences with each other. You guys want Santa Clausn not the Holy God of all creation who is to be served and honored above our feelings. Feelings come and go, but He is a rock that is secure and can be trusted. Allen

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  28. It seems the only answer you would really like is a forced proof. It is like your crying out, "God prove yourself, (make me a robot automotan.If you were given all the elements on the periodic table, could you make a living cell? Could anyone, given enough time, arrange the proteins in order? A cell able to reproduce itself and most importantly, make it come alive? Let’s be honest, only God can do this. God makes 2.4 million red blood cells in your body every second, keeps you breathing and your heart pumping. But God does not force Himself on us and our free will is a part of His perfection that lets us have this ability to choose Him. God does not want automatons but children. Please take a fresh look at knowing the God who made you!
    What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. – A.W. Tozer
    If God does not exist, this is a complete waste of time. But if He does, than the encouragement to seek Him in Matthew 6:33 - 7:5 is a worthy pursuit.
    On this important topic, it is not our emotions or experiences that matter, but what is true. If it is true that Jesus is who He said He was and that He rose from the dead, then we should listen to what He has to say. He said… “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” - John 14:6- Jesus asks us kindly to come to Him and also commands us to repent or else we will perish. He has done everything in order to give us true life. Many people think that they are basically good and will of course go to heaven (if there is one) when they die, but according to Jesus, that is not the case at all.

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  29. When we die, God does not default us into Heaven. When we die we are then judged. Hebrews 9:27. How could I possibly know this? For one thing Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling the 700 year old prophesy found in Isaiah 52:13- ch53 and Psalm 22. He has given us His law “the Ten Commandments” to show us how far we have fallen from the life we should live in thought and deed. We steal(answers, time from our bosses), lie, curse His name, have lustful thoughts, harbor hatred in our hearts, don’t keep God as our number one priority and want things or people that are not ours. This shows us we are fallen. What if I, a stranger to you, came to your home tonight and after knocking on your door said “Hi, I’m moving in.” You most likely would justifiably say “no way are you coming in”, or at least say “well that’s pretty bold, I don’t even know you.” So it is with God when you die.
    Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.
    Be sure of this, God will get good and fair justice. As I may have shared with you in person, “If I lie to my 7 yr old, (nothing), my wife, (I’m on the couch) my boss, (unemployed) the government (jail time) to God…in time, out of the gene pool. It is the same offense but to a higher authority. God is our ultimate authority. It will either be you paying your fine in Hell forever for having broken His Holy laws or it will be Jesus paying for it. The kindest thing anyone has ever done for you was Jesus dying for you on the cross. He then rose from the dead to prove His great power and love. This is the gospel truth, this is the good news. If you turn from your sins, God promises to give you Himself through His Holy Spirit and you will find yourself loving Him more and loving your sins less and less.

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  30. Hi Anonymous,

    I see that you have strong thoughts about all of this discussion... Just FYI, I'm pretty sure that all of the folks here at one point or another could have written what you wrote. (If the rest of the "commentors" don't mind me speaking for them!) Everybody here is on some kind of journey. Sometimes that journey of questioning leads you somewhere you never expected.

    Thank you.

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  31. Anonymous,
    Absolutely my husband and I aren't looking for a Santa Claus! We're just looking for ways to determine the nature of God. You depend on your interpretation of the Bible to inform you. I once did that as well. However, before we should really base our beliefs about God on the Bible, we have to evaluate it in terms of its reliability and validity. If you haven't done that, then what grounds do you have for believing it? And don't respond with any type of personal experience because you told me not to use that in knowing about God.

    IsToo,
    You are so right! I've been thinking about you btw. Happy New Years to you!

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  32. Just checking if this works..

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  33. Hello,

    I'm a first time poster but here are my thoughts on this .

    A committed Christian acquaintance from a church I used to attend died from a bee sting after the church had prayed for him for weeks.. He left a wife and kids..

    In my opinion there are a few ways at looking at this.
    1. God can't intervene
    2. God chooses not to intervene
    3. God doesn't exist
    4. It is beyond our understanding (my current position)

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  34. Im a Christian who struggles with doubts but 'the problem of pain' as CS lewis puts it is what occupies a lot of my thoughts. I've heard countless christian 'answers ' from 'read the story of job' to the 'we are living in a fallen world' but it just leaves me at number 4 again..

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  35. James,
    Thanks for stopping by. There are certainly far more questions than answers.

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