I've been thinking about the spiritual doubts you were struggling with the last time we talked. I didn't say much at the time because I didn't know what to say.
Now that I've had a chance to collect my thoughts, I want you to know that I respect you for admitting that you've been dogged by questions about the fairness of life and the goodness of God.
I also want you to know that I don't blame you for saying you don't like being around religious people like me. There was a day when I would have resented your comment. But I've come to see that there is a lot of truth in your opinion of us. People like me do have a tendency to imply that every problem can be solved with the medicine of morality. And all too often we spend more time defending our beliefs than in caring for others.
I also believe you are right in recognising the unfairness of life. We don't all suffer in proportion to our wrongs. Neither do we all prosper in proportion to the good we do. Some abuse their bodies without consequences. Others try to take care of themselves and get sick.
How could a good God let this happen? Where is His sense of justice? How can we walk through a children's hospital or a psychiatric facility and still believe in the goodness of God? How can we see the terrors of war, and famine, and flooding and still believe that a good and powerful God is in control? There isn't one of us who would let such terrible things happen if we had the power to stop them.
You don't need me to tell you that I don't have answers for these questions. What I do want to say is that I care that you've had more than your share of problems and losses lately.
I also wanted to write because I've been reading through some old papers and letters I think you'd be interested in. Inside one of the oldest papers, I found an account of a man whose story reminds me of yours. He was hurting and couldn't understand why. His religious friends all argued that he was suffering because of some sin he was hiding. As it turned out, they were wrong.
As I worked my way through these papers, I compared the man's story with the experiences and thoughts of a Person whose name I know you'd recognise. He's a Person religious people love to quote, even though religious people were His worst enemies. This Person didn't follow the party line to explain suffering. He didn't believe that all people suffer in proportion to their own wrongs. he said it was a mistake to assume that people who die in accidents or live with physical suffering are paying either for their own sins or the sins of their parents.
What makes this Person so interesting is the people who were attracted to Him. Hurting and rejected people were drawn to Him. Religious people resented Him. But i think you would have liked Him. I know He would have loved you.
What am I implying? Would He have called down a sign from the sky to convince you that there is a God in the heavens? Would He have taken the time to answer all your questions and objections to faith? I'm not sure He would have done either. Even though He was known to do miracles and answer tough questions, He didn't do miracles or answer questions on command.
HIS METHOD WAS MORE PERSONAL. He seemed to see the hearts of everyone He met. Those who were proud looked into His eyes and saw nothing but themselves. Those who were broken looked into the same eyes and saw the heart of God. Those who were doubting to avoid the truth learned to hate Him. Those who were doubting to know the truth ended up on their knees before a God who cared for them.
I don't want to imply this Person has answered all my questions. He hasn't. But he has shown me that He deserves to be trusted with what I don't know. He helps me believe in God even though I can't see the gates of heaven. He reminds me that ideas and actions have consequences even when the results are not yet evident. He helps me believe that the best is yet to come, without needing to know when.
I haven't always been sure of my faith. I've often been where you are. I have doubted the fairness of life, the goodness of God, and the credibility of religious answers. Even at the present I feel, in most respects, that I can't rely on my own ability to see clearly. What I have come to believe is that I can depend on His eyes. I believe I can trust Him to see for me when He looks at the pain of this world - then calmly lifts His eyes and prays to His Father in heaven.
At this point, I don't know if you can relate to what I see in His eyes. That's why I'm hoping you will spend some time with Him yourself. Get to know the way He thinks. Watch the way He relates to all different kinds of people. Listen to Him as He prays. Look at Him when He cries. Then I think you will see what I see in His eyes.
Thanks for reading this. If you're interested, I'd love to talk more. I'm confident that this Person is someone you can believe in. As you get to know Him, I'm sure that you could even come to love and trust Him as much as I do.