At a recent Bible study, many of my friends talked about when they don’t feel God’s presence or when they don’t get something they prayed for.
It was as if it never occurred to them to question God’s goodness or His existence.
Frankly, the problem of suffering (personal and universal) does have that effect on me, and I was a little shocked no one else mentioned it. (Although it should be expected; where would you take the conversation in a Bible study after someone drops the, “What if none of this is true” bomb?)
One of the most frustrating things about faith is what C.S. Lewis referred to as “the law of undulation.”
In Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters,” the demon Screwtape is explaining to his nephew, Wormwood, how God uses spiritual troughs and peaks.
“As long as (a human) lives on earth, periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty,” Screwtape said. “It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best … He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.”
Many people of faith, contemporary and Biblical, talk about feeling abandoned by God at one time or another.
People of faith have struggled with doubts for as long as there have been belief systems. But for many of them, it’s a circle around the same conclusion: belief makes more sense than unbelief, so what choice do they have? Like Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
One of the greatest things about “The Princess Bride” is the unwavering faith of Buttercup that her love will rescue her. Even when all hope looks lost and she’s about to be forced to marry the evil prince, she lifts her head defiantly and says, “My Wesley will always come for me.”
I think that’s the kind of faith that God is trying to teach me.