First off, I want to say that I am very sorry to hear about the things that you have been through. It’s never easy to see the horrible things in the world and then believe in a good and gracious God. I completely, 100% understand that difficulty. However, for me personally, I look at the life of Jesus to understand the personality of God, which in turn leads me to rely on my spiritual faith to deal with the hardships of life. Whether or not an individual truly believes that Jesus was God “in the flesh”, when we look at the life of Jesus, no one can argue that his entire 33 years of life were spent doing good, loving people, and helping to ease the hurt of those in need. He broke down barriers between the rich and poor, he served to eliminate racism, he increased the dignity of the individual by letting them know that they were valued and loved no matter who they were and what they had done in life, and he even rebuked the pious religious leaders of his time. But all-in-all, he loved the people he interacted with so much that he died a really horrible death for them (for us). I mean… that’s pretty intense. If Jesus is God, and God is Jesus, then God is equally as good, loving, and willing to ease the hurt of those in need of help. It requires faith (just the smallest dose), but that is the very thing that I’ve had to develop to understand God and to allow him to help me get through my own personal tragedies. Because of God’s goodness, I allow him to help me when I struggle.
It is also important for me to note that, although I was raised in a “Christian” home, I did not become a “follower of Jesus” (my preferred term) until I was 14. I was angry at God and could not understand this faith myself. It wasn’t until I “re-learned” that God is not this lightening-throwing, vengeful, and bitter Being that I decided that I wanted to follow the teachings of a man who did nothing but good and did nothing but love… a man who truly reflected the personality of God.
I feel like I am falling very short of being able to adequately express myself without getting really boring, technical, and philosophical. I want to say that having spiritual faith isn’t easy… it’s not easy to believe in a Being that you can’t see and it’s not easy being ridiculed for a faith that has been associated with intolerance and bigotry. But intolerance stems from a lack of knowledge about the true Jesus that is the center of the Christian faith, and I aim to understand that Jesus and live like him the best I can. In close, I just know that without God, without believing that there is life after death, that life would seem meaningless to me.
To sum this up, I think my favorite “believer” author, Shane Claiborne says it best:
“The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because ‘God so loved the world.’ That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good.”
I am not an expert. I am still a believer trying to learn my own faith daily who (even still) struggles with uncertainty and doubt, but I hope I gave a somewhat full answer to your question. If you want to talk anymore, you can always reach out whenever (feel free to stay anonymous because I understand that this stuff can get pretty heavy). I’m a very understanding person and have probably felt a lot (if not all) of the same things you feel when you think about spiritual faith. :)
I haven’t read Big Sur, but I’ve heard amazing things about it!
Thank you! I’m so stoked with all the amazing recs’ I’ve been getting. I’m going to compile a list of all the books that you all have recommended and start crossing them off as I read them :)