Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Just a Test

My church book group has ended, and the members want to start it up again for the summer. The problem is Group Leader will be away all summer, so we need someone else to lead. Future Leader volunteered but she doesn't want to do it by herself, so I volunteered to co-lead. (This was a few weeks ago.) Last night, however, I e-mailed Group Leader and Future Leader and told them that I don't think it's a good idea. I explained about my crisis of faith and said that I feel it would be insincere of me and unfair to the others if I helped lead. I would attend but I don't want to have any kind of "authority." I'm supposed to have dinner with them Thursday night so perhaps we'll discuss it further.

Second Cousin just called. He's a pastor that lives a few states away. He started telling me that we need to have faith because God may be testing us, and faith is the only way to get God to work. If we don't have faith, we're tying His hands. I listened to everything he had to say and promised to pass the message along to the rest of the family. I was thinking, however... Why do we have to have faith before God works? If God's omnipotent, He can do whatever He wants. I have constantly worried about my lack of faith being a hindrance, and I feel guilty about it, but how can I help a lack of faith? I can't just conjure some up. It wouldn't be genuine. Besides, if God wants to test other members of my family to see what kind of Christians they are, fine. I can't see why He would want to test me, though. Tests are supposed to be for people like Abraham and Noah and Job, to see if their faith that is great in the first place is still great when bad times come. What would be the point of testing someone whose faith is not even great in the first place?

Also, there are times when prayer works, and there are times when it doesn't. My parents have told me the story of Sister's healing a million times: when she was a baby, she had such bad asthma that she would wheeze all night and they feared she would stop breathing. The doctor told them to get rid of every pet, rug, etc. They took her to a church service where she was prayed for and when they took her back to the doctor, he couldn't understand how the asthma just disappeared. To this day she doesn't have it. I may be reluctant to believe stories like that about other people, but this is my immediate family. I know it's true. Anyway, we have also known someone who was in a wheelchair who was not healed (Pastor So-And-So, the one I have a grievance against, told her she didn't have enough faith, which horrified my parents. He did, however, change his tune when he prayed and prayed for one of his parents to be healed and they passed away). Christians explain that by saying that it was not God's will for that person. My point: doubting is not necessarily saying God can't or won't do something. It might be wondering whether or not God will choose to do it. People seem to believe that having faith means walking around acting like everything's fine because you know it will be. But none of us know it will be, regardless of how faithful we are.

So confusing.


Tom said...

I believe that God gives us faith, healings, etc as a soveriegn God sees fit. We are to worship and pray. I had an unbelievable answer to prayer when I was 10 and have never doubted what is possible. I have also come to ask for less and try to be content with little.

sojourness said...

I agree that God does it when He sees fit. That just doesn't tie in with people saying "You have to have faith or He won't!" If He might not see fit, why am I supposed to walk around telling people He will as if I knew His plan?

You make a good point about being content and asking for less under normal circumstances. But, just as a side note, the thing my family is asking for is extremely serious and important.