My BitterSweet Weekend -Part 2

Now one of my fears about the Youth Conference  we attended last weekend was that the sermons would be of complete disinterest to me.  I thought because of my unbelief I would no longer be interested in anything the preachers or pastor had to say.  But that was not what happened.  I actually listened to every message and sermon with much attentiveness.  I don’t know why, but I think that it was in the hope, that God might reveal something through the message, that might restore my faith.  But that moment never came.

Half way through the day.  There was a very emotional message that took place with an altar call.  They played a video about a kid named Dustin Bueller, and you could feel the emotion in the 400-500 seat auditorium just grow.  You could feel your heart grow heavy with sorrow as you watched this video of his testimony.  The goosebumps on everybody’s arm; and the tears welling up in the eyes of some in the crowd.  It was a story of a kid, who lost his best friend to cancer, then developed his own tumorous cancer in his brain.  Fully recovered even in spite of his prognosis, that he may not be able fully walk, or memory loss or partial paralysis.  And that through all of this and both trials of battling cancer and losing his friend he never lost faith and still choose to trust god.

The emotions were  so strong; I was starting to get drawn into the amazing story of faith and courage.  I was even starting to think to myself, wow it’s amazing how God brought him through all of this.

But then the second part of his testimony started, and so did my mindset on the story.

The second part was a story I was vaguely familiar with.  It was a story of a Pastor’s Daughter who was shot at church accidentally and died.  I read it a few months earlier in the newspaper, and I knew a few Christian colleagues who had mentioned the story to me, but nothing more than that.  And then I realized, -that this is not a story to the awesome testament of God.  It does not glorify God in any way.  Granted it does draw an emotional appeal, but the illogical senseless suffering on this young man’s life all before the age of 20 in No way brings Glory to God.

And if it does, that is kind of sick.

I can understand the purpose of the message and the video, that God has a plan for us, even if we don’t understand it.  And that we should still glorify god even in the face of our own suffering, but then it hit me.  Why should I give God Glory if he can’t do something for me?  What purpose does God serve, if he can’t do anything?  Why should I worship this Judeo-Christian God, if he allows unimaginable suffering in my life, and then says to me, it’s all part of a plan you can never understand and that I won’t be able to reveal to you?

In reflection, this great emotional story and video, just became a tragic, sad, and senseless suffering video that nobody in the room could explain beyond the words, “God has plan for you, even if it we don’t understand it or don’t like it.”

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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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18 Responses to My BitterSweet Weekend -Part 2

  1. I read a great book last week called ‘Where the Hell is God’ by an Australian Jesuit. I’m planning to review it on my blog when ive mulled over it a bit more, but its a fabulous an honest assessment of what he thinks God does, and does’t do. God nearly killed his sister is a car accident because his family were given greater ability to bear it than others, all part of a divine plan? He calls bullshit on this kind of thinking.
    Its only a short read, and I need to look through it again. I’ll let you know when I discuss it, if you’re interested 🙂

    Eva

  2. unkleE says:

    “I can understand the purpose of the message and the video, that God has a plan for us, even if we don’t understand it.”
    I never thought that was the message of such stories (though of course I didn’t hear this one). I thought the message was that we should trust God no matter what crap the world throws at us, because he will stay with us, and if we persevere to the end, we will be saved (the words of Jesus). I’ve never thought that God plans nasty things for us, except maybe very occasionally for very good reason. Mostly God plans good for us, but the world does bad, and God’s good [plan adapts to those circumstances.

    “Why should I give God Glory if he can’t do something for me?”
    This maybe sounds worse than you meant it. God can do, and does do, many many things for us, we probably don’t even know the half of them. He just doesn’t always do the things we want. Jesus said quite clearly that we would cop persecution, and that we had to endure. I’m wondering whether you have only ever believed that peculiarly American brand of christianity that more or less says God will give you everything you want. I don’t think that is the gospel Jesus taught.

    Can I say as gently and as kindly as I can that I think it may be for the best that you leave that form of christianity, so you can find the christianity that Jesus taught and embodied. I just hope and pray that you complete the second half of that journey.

    Best wishes.

    • Well I have been through several forms of Christianity, but as I study my bible more and more, I have slightly tweaked my faith or doctrine, so that reflects what I think is a Biblically sound christian.

      My old pastor use to say, “He is never there when you want him, but he is always right on time.”

      So I refined my faith, as I have grown in the faith. So I no longer believed that Jesus or God is soley my sugar-daddy. And that he is there to provide all the desires of my heart. That is foolish and un-biblical. However, if I am to believe like many other Christians, that I am to pray,worship, and serve God, all the way to the grave, and the only reward during this lifelong process is a pat on the back and heaven. It almost seems like, whats the point of worshipping a God, who can’t show his goodness and power to his most devoted servants while they are alive in servanthood…

      • unkleE says:

        BR,

        You are a very honest and open person, and that is a great thing. But I honestly think you don’t understand God. (Of course none of us can fully!)

        “whats the point of worshipping a God, who can’t show his goodness and power”

        The christian belief is that God has indeed shown his goodness and power in Jesus – but note that his power is expressed through serving. Jesus makes it clear that we are called to do the same – to live as servants rather than lording it over others, to trust God in all situations, to forgive rather than take revenge, to triumph through the grind of life rather than through having everything we want, and to persevere to the end. That is all in Jesus’ teaching. I can only assume you somehow missed it, or thought it meant something different. That is the deal we signed on for when we joined Jesus’ team.

        God will show his power again at the end, but in the meantime, we live as servants. That’s why we revere jesus – because he is not like other kings, but rules by serving. He doesn’t command respect and awe, he demonstrates love and invites us to love in return.

        I think you have been given wrong expectations. And I repeat that leaving that form of belief seems to me to be necessary. But before you walk away completely, why not give the real Jesus a chance to impress you? Read the gospel of Luke and keep asking yourself: “If I was there back then, would I have answered his call to follow him?” If the answer is “no”, then there is no more reason to follow him now; if “yes” then nothing should stop you now.

        I agree with you that some of the hype at that youth conference is not healthy. And I think rather than hope that God will speak to you through one of the talks, why not hope he will speak to you through the life of his son?

        Best wishes.

      • hey unklee,

        But I honestly think you don’t understand God. (Of course none of us can fully!)

        I think that was one of the most bothersome things in the video and in the comments, Because this kid and his fiancee had to deal with in my opinion illogical suffering, and the only answer he could give or anybody….nobody knows the will of god, his ways are higher than our ways, or that its all a part of God’s plan…

        And I myself used to say these same things.

        But the disturbing thing about this, is that in this suffering, there was no life lesson learned. It almost like, when someone says, “who knows the mind of god, his ways are higher than our, we could never possibly understand the mind of God.” It like at this point thinking stops. And that right there is the disturbing part.

        Because when we say that, it is inferring, that when we get to aspects of things in our life that we don’t know or understand, its okay to longer think, and just accept what life has thrown at us.

        ….as to reading Luke…I truly don’t see the benefit of reading it again. but out of respect for you, because through this whole ordeal of doubt, you have consistent in your advice and comments and compassionate thought. I will make an attempt, to read it. I will try to do it, probably at work.

  3. Brenda says:

    It’s amazing how differently we see things when the god glasses come off.

    I’ve been extremely busy but just wanted you to know that I have been reading your posts.

  4. dsholland says:

    I was thinking a little more about this blog and it occurs to me you can’t give what you don’t have. Maybe I’m wrong, but part of this journey began with wanting to give. Now you have nothing. As UnkleE says, it’s time for the second half of the journey.

    There is a difference between surrender and giving up and trust is part of the difference.

  5. unkleE says:

    biblereader,

    Again may I say that I appreciate your honesty and your questions. I couldn’t ask for a fairer reply than the one you gave. Thanks.

    “this kid and his fiancee had to deal with in my opinion illogical suffering, and the only answer he could give or anybody….nobody knows the will of god, his ways are higher than our ways, or that its all a part of God’s plan…”
    I find myself continually in partial agreement and partial disagreement with what you say and what you report other christian people saying. Same again here. I think if that was all just “blind” faith, it would be very disturbing. But I don’t think it is. In the end, after all the arguments are said, if a christian believes, they must believe in Jesus and because of Jesus. Because they believe in Jesus, they believe what he said, as much as they can understand it. So they are then right to trust God. But I don’t think they are right to say that it is all part of God’s plan. God doesn’t plan evil, so when people suffer it, it wasn’t God’s intention or doing. He allows it because he allows us to go our own ways, and he can adapt his actions to our choices.

    “But the disturbing thing about this, is that in this suffering, there was no life lesson learned.”
    What do you mean here? Surely when evil happens we learn lessons about evil and forgiveness, and avoiding situations like that again (if we can). I don’t really understand what you mean. If you mean that sometimes christians almost glorify suffering, then I understand what you mean, but I don’t think that’s what it is. The suffering happens, what we recognise and honour is when a person suffers and still trusts God, because if we believe in Jesus, we know that’s the right thing to do.

    “….as to reading Luke…I truly don’t see the benefit of reading it again. but out of respect for you, because through this whole ordeal of doubt, you have consistent in your advice and comments and compassionate thought. I will make an attempt, to read it. I will try to do it, probably at work.”
    I feel humbled by your comment, but I appreciate your response. May I just suggest that you try to read it as the biography of a man (which is what scholars say it was), and ask yourself what you think about that man. (I suspect there will be some positives and some unexpected questions.) Try to avoid think about it as someone who has read and heard much christian commentary on it, just read it as a newcomer, trying to see what is going on.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think. Best wishes.

  6. Ryan says:

    Hi BR,

    I don’t know what to write really, just thought I’d let you know that I’m still reading your posts. I hope things are going ok.

  7. Having to pull myself into the emotional aspect of christian faith is getting harder and harder for me too. I go to worship services and conferences and I ask god to speak to me, reveal himself to me…anything that would remotely be a sign would be greatly appreciated! I look and I listen, but far too often I leave disappointed and finding nothing more than superficial emotionalism and a mental disconnect to what I once thought I knew. I understand what people mean when they say losing your faith is like going through a divorce.
    You are in my thoughts my friend!

    • unkleE says:

      G’day QF,

      I don’t want to come on like some know-all who has an answer to every problem, but I feel I must query something you said here, if I may.

      “Having to pull myself into the emotional aspect of christian faith is getting harder and harder for me too. I go to worship services and conferences and I ask god to speak to me, reveal himself to me…anything that would remotely be a sign would be greatly appreciated! I look and I listen, but far too often I leave disappointed and finding nothing more than superficial emotionalism and a mental disconnect to what I once thought I knew.”

      I was always taught that emotions were the least important aspect of christian faith. CS Lewis, whose writings guided me in those early years, said we should welcome emotions when they come, but not be perturbed when they didn’t.

      We were taught that the order is facts -> faith -> feelings. It is like a train, with facts as the engine, faith as the tender and feelings as the caboose. And so I have gone through 50 years as a christian believer with only rarely having any emotional response to God, rarely hearing God speak to me, but always having as the engine the facts of the historical Jesus and the sheer ‘unexplainability’ of life and the universe without God.

      I used to worry about it, especially when I attended for a while a Pentecostal church where almost everyone else was very big on emotions and God speaking. But I came to see that we have all been made different, and there are advantages and disadvantages with each type of person. My wife is a much more emotional, intuitive, Spirit-led person, while I am pragmatic, always thinking and sceptical – and we find that the two go together very well now that we understand each other and know that God has deliberately made different types of people like different parts of the body.

      I wonder whether you, and biblereader, are looking in the wrong places, and God is close at hand with all the facts you both need if you could adjust your assumptions and let go of some bad models of christianity which seem, unfortunately, to be all too common in the US.

      If I have misunderstood and am barking up the wrong tree, please forgive me, I’m just offering what I can. Best wishes.

  8. papapound says:

    I don’t think God’s intent is that you never understand. I am suffering today. But I understand why I experience some of it. I don’t necessarily understand all of it. That does not mean however, that there is not a purpose in both the parts that I feel I understand and the parts that I don’t understand.

    You said “unimaginable suffering.” I say “limited suffering.” God does limit suffering.

  9. Pingback: My De-Conversion on a Matter of Doubt Podcast | The BitterSweet End

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