I'll begin by describing my situation. A few weeks ago I stopped attending church. I felt that something was wrong, but I wasn't exactly sure what. It was as if I felt that I didn't belong. It's possible that somewhere inside I knew what it was then, but didn't want to admit it to myself. Within the last week, it was finally brought to light. I had suppressed feelings that I did not truly love God. Since I was a boy I asked for guidance and more recently healing for conditions that have affected my life.
Recently, having failed to uphold God's commandments, I felt that God wasn't guiding me as I thought He should. I began to ask myself if God is capable of helping everyone with their problems, of truly guiding and healing us through our lives; and I thought that, of course, He is capable if He wants to. Then why would He not? I talked to my dad about how I felt, and He told me essentially the same things that you said in your answer to another question (Why does a good person come down with cancer? ). The problem is that it didn't completely help. Even if He has great future plans why would He so completely turn His back on us in this life?
I feel that people, in general, have nowhere else to turn and that by not helping us, being fully capable of doing so, He is by extension at fault for several of the wrongs in the world. My dad says that he believes God is content with, essentially, watching the world turn -- of leaving us to our own devices. That we essentially condemned ourselves and that maybe I didn't understand just how serious the incident in the garden really was. But the idea of anyone who's content with watching the evil in the world and standing idly by doesn't sit well with me -- we are called to act and do what we can, after all, does He not value His own advice?
I talked to someone else who led me to your page (and the answer to the question I referenced previously in this email). I looked through other questions on your site but didn't find anything that I felt applied. I don't like feeling the way I do at all and am hoping that you may be able to help me find something that I am missing. Is there anything left for me to rediscover my love for God?
So many topics we could address from this one note; it is difficult to decide where to start or how much to cover.
Let's start with the way you are approaching this problem. I want you to go back through your note and count how many times you used forms of the word "feel." Now notice that for the most part, you don't talk about any hard facts, instead, your thinking is built on feelings. The problem is that feelings can be manipulated. For example, suppose you go to the movies and there is this really tender scene and you feel your eyes begin to water. Your feelings are real, but they are being produced by something that isn't real -- it is just a movie played by actors. Feelings should be responses to the situations we face, but they should not be accepted as evidence of what is or is not. Now you might have a feeling, an intuition, that something isn't quite right and that feeling spurs you to investigate, but that feeling alone isn't sufficient proof.
People like to discuss feelings instead of facts because your feelings are not necessarily my feelings. Thus they convince themselves that if you feel you should do one thing and I feel I should do something else, why there is no need to come to an agreement because everyone has a "right" to their own feelings. I don't deal in feelings. I'm interested in teaching people about the truth. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). So if we are going to determine what is actually going on, then we need some hard facts from the Bible.
Since you accept that God exists, how do we know what God has done or is doing? After all, we can't see Him or interview Him. God is spirit (John 4:24), but we are physical. Paul points out that the only way we can see into the thoughts of God are through the things He has chosen to reveal to us.
"But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:9-13).
I'm going to assume that you accept that the Bible is God's word and His revelation to us. You mentioned that you failed to uphold God's command, have you given thought as to why those commands exist? Moses told the Israelites, "And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day" (Deuteronomy 6:24). In other words, God's laws aren't arbitrary, they are carefully crafted to keep the follower out of trouble. God's laws tell us in advance what works and what doesn't work.
Understanding that, do you see a problem with your charge against God? You state that God is taking a "hands-off" approach to the world after He created it, but such a view contradicts the fact that God gave us laws to benefit us -- that isn't a hands-off approach. The view you are expressing is called "deism." A Deitist believes that God isn't involved in His creation.
But from the beginning of the Bible to the end we find God talking about being very actively involved in the affairs of the world. For example, governments come and go by the will of God. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses" (Daniel 4:25). And Paul stated, "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Romans 13:1). That isn't non-involvement.
And it is just major power moves either. The Hebrews writer talks about angels and says, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). Who does the sending? The implication is that they are sent by God. Exactly what they do to serve Christians is not stated, but it is clear that they do interact at times. That is why the Hebrews writer warns, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2).
Therein lies, I believe, the crux of the matter. If you are not aware of what is happening behind the scenes, does that necessarily imply that nothing is happening? Remember that verse from Paul? It started out, "But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (I Corinthians 2:9). We only know what God does and plans because He tells us just a few things.
I'm puzzled where you got the notion that God doesn't care or has His back turned to us. Jesus told us, "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14). This isn't a blank check that many people assume. Jesus said that what is asked must be "in my name." That phrase means with Jesus' approval or his authority. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).
If you want to do something, but God thinks it would be wrong or harmful to you in the long run, you shouldn't expect God to support you in your request.
"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:1-4).
Why would it be God's fault if men act as stubborn brats insisting on getting their way even though God fully knows what is being asked is going to cause harm to them?
I'm sure this leaves you with further questions, so go ahead and ask. Let's work this out because God wants you to be His. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).