Assailed by Doubts and Distance

A year ago May, I hit my first real patch of doubt after more than 35 years of being a Christian. It was a scary time and I wrote several posts about doubt, starting with Doubting duskyat Last.

I pulled out of that phase sometime later in the year, only to be hit last spring with a distance from God and new bouts of doubt that I described in My Dusky Hour of the Soul

The summer wasn’t so bad if only because I was having fun being creative with our kitchen and bathroom.

Since the job hunt began in earnest, I’ve become more aware that I waver between feelings of doubt, distance, and tentative faith.

A recent email to some friends indicates how I felt last week when the job searches for both my husband and me appeared very bleak:

I would appreciate prayer. At this moment, I think God exists and prayer works.

But last week, and off and on over the past year or so,  I’ve suffered a loss of angryfaith, a loss of my assurance that He IS and He is with me, and a loss of hope.
 
And I get very angry and depressed about it.
  
… I took up job hunting when I returned from [our seminar] and the kids went back to school. My husband has decided to look outside of the church for a job, too. And I gotta tell you, it ain’t pretty out there in job hunting land…
 
I met with [a local spiritual director] the other day, who many of you know…. We shared our stories and his now sounds like my husband’s and mine used to: strong sense of God’s calling, being part of a huge [ministry] movement, seeing God work tjealoushrough us, being part of a community, being taken care of by God, etc.
 
Instead of feeling encouraged, however, I felt depressed. Instead of being excited about how God was using this guy, I was jealous and angry.  
 
Have you forgotten us, God?? What about the “good works that You prepared beforehand” for US to walk in??
 nowhining
For years, I mean YEARS, I never understood why Christians complained to God and about God’s plan for their lives. Heck, didn’t they get Romans 8:28 and 32??
 
Now I am one of those whiners. 
 
I dreamt last night about some old church friends and the dream conveyed just how angry I am at the church, too, for letting me down.
 
Oddly, God (or is it just some psychological event??) has been doing some very disruptive things in my life [recently]. But despite these happenings, I sometimes feel like an outsider looking in. Oh, I know all the lingo, but is this just because I’ve been part of this Christian subculture for so long? Or is it true? I came to [our seminar] feeling exactly this way, and left a bit more tied in and believing because of you all.
 
But I still have bad days when I honestly think that the only thing that keeps me going is the fact I am a Mom. I don’t feel much hope otherwise.
 
major s urgeryBut on the better days, I am pretty sure that God is doing some major surgery, that He wants a new Copernican revolution in my heart where my greatest longing is to pursue Him and to live for His glory, not just for a sense of His presence or guidance or calling or purpose….
 
Anyhow, if you BELIEVE, could you pray for us and for our jobs…? And if you’ve been here before, I’d love to hear your story.

That’s the end of my email and the end of this post…. More in posts to come

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8 thoughts on “Assailed by Doubts and Distance

  1. I think I’ve already told you much of my story. But just in case, a few tidbits — off and on since postpartum depression hit hard, I’ve not only had concerns about bits of doctrine, but even doubts of God’s existence. The serious kind, not the kind that can be brushed aside fairly easily. Living where there is no local Reformed congregation (we are alternating between two Reformed churches both a half hour or more away, until we pick one), I’ve been a little more interested in Reformed reading and thinking, and so much of it online is really nasty — only rarely and fleetingly in the good PCA churches we’ve been members of have I wondered if God even loves the non-elect, and such questions. My ever-recurring suspicion is that it’s all just a hoax, so cleverly written to address all possible suspicions and doubts, tied up a little too neatly, and what if God is just a tyrant dressed up as a benevolent dictator.

    It is appalling to have lived here over two years and still not to have found a really solid church. I don’t even think we’re being too picky. And yet I have lots of believing friends who are so content in their churches, churches that almost always make me grind my teeth at some point during the service. I’m going to BSF this year with two friends, and I almost hate it enough to quit, but I keep going for the sake of the Scripture and the nice long fellowshippy carpool.

    Really makes us question ourselves — what IS our problem.

    That verse about where else would we go, and the Cross, and the bit at the end of 1 Cor 13 about the dim mirror, are ones that keep me going most often.

    Somehow we have to believe in this great love despite all the evidence to the contrary — and this great presence, likewise — and it seems only the Cross can even begin to make us even begin to consider the possibility that it might be true.

  2. I relate to so much of what you have written…the doubts that want to creep in…the anger…at both Yahweh and the “church”. Like you, where else would we go? There is no one else. Whether I understand or not…my Creator knows best. Nothing happens that is not either allowed by Him or caused by Him. Trusting Him is the ONLY way I can do life.

  3. That’s an interesting question. Because, the fact is, I don’t think I can embrace anything else. As the apostle Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? For You have the words of eternal life.”

    As much as I ‘feel’ distant from God and have doubts, I think the distance is not atypical of this phase of Christian growth (e.g., dark night of the soul) and the doubts are due in part to my frustration with life circumstances and the visible representation of Jesus on earth: the church.

    When I sit back intellectually and survey the options, this one still makes most sense. 1. I think it impossible to understand the universe without a first mover (i.e., a transcendent God) and 2. The Cross is hugely compelling (i.e., an immanent God in Jesus).

    What other God or religion expects nothing from us (due to our inability) except to accept the gift of a life lived on our behalf and a death given for our sins? What other God comes to earth and endures suffering, rejection, poverty, humiliation, all out of love for people? I can’t imagine rejecting such love.

    But I feel very distant from it now. My greatest desire is NOT to run away from His arms, but to find a new way in.

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