Message from anonymous1128 :
Hi Anonymous 1128! Thank you so much for having the courage to write me and be so honest about your feelings. It is apparent that you are going through a tough time and have been for a while now. I really do feel for you and your daughter. I just want to tell you that you are not alone! Most all of us go through times in our life where we wonder where God is and question our faith. I have been through it myself.
I apologize that this letter is so long. But I do hope you read. Seriously though, there is truth in here that can help you.
I want to talk to you about the pain and sense of abandonment that you are feeling (because it is very common and it is valid), but first I feel that I need to address the root issue here. The root problem you are encountering is that someone has painted a very poor picture for you of who Jesus Christ is.
What picture of God has been painted for you? Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Also, Colossians 1:15 states that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”’ Then verse 14 says “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
When a person wants to know what God is like, she need look no further than Jesus Christ. He came to clear up the confusion about God’s nature AND to be the initiator of the relationship with all who are willing to believe (Matthew 22:3).
He came to be our example and our substitute. God is not interested in your perfection! You will never be perfect, and neither will I. No one (except Jesus) ever has or will be!
God, in gracious love, knew that we could not be perfect (or even close). Thus, we need atonement for our sins. We need someone to “step in” and do what we could never be “good enough” to accomplish.
The “relationship” with God happens because of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. We are the offenders, but God receives us through the sacrifice AND ongoing work of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1, Romans 8:34). He loves us too much to let us go.
In your comment you say, “It seemed like nothing I did was good enough for him” and “God is demanding and that’s that. The Bible says we must be perfect like the Son and Father.” I am very sorry that someone has characterized God for you in this way. Jesus himself said:
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
How could Jesus say this if he demands perfection? Is perfection easy to bear? Does trying to be perfect give you rest? He says his burden is light. I can tell you that this has been so true in my life. When we accept Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior our position in Christ is settled. We don’t have to earn it. We become saints, not sinners. Yes, we may still choose to sin and this sin will impact our relationship with God (disrupt the harmony of our relationship) but it will not change the fact that we are his children . . .forever. Here are some excerpts from a great book, “Victory Over the Darkness”, by Neil Anderson:
“God does not want us to be “imitators” of Jesus. God has made us partakers of His nature so we will actually BE like Him. You don’t become a Christian by “acting” like one. You are not on a performance basis with God. He doesn’t say, “Here are my standards, now you measure up”. He knows you can’t solve the problem of your own sinful self by simply improving your behavior. He must change your nature, give you an entirely new self—the life of Christ in you—which is the grace you need to measure up to His standards . . . Only after He changes who you are and makes you a partaker of his divine nature will you be able to change your behavior.”
If this weren’t the case then Paul couldn’t say in Romans 8:1-2:
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
It is the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian to become like Jesus Christ. As we trust in, seek, and rely on God in every aspect of our lives, the Spirit begins to change who we are. As we change, we desire to sin less and desire to serve God more, because we love Him, and not because we have to or because he demands it from us.
Neil Anderson gives a great example: “For instance, as mortals we can’t fly in our own strength, but we can fly in an airplane because the airplane has a greater power than the law of gravity.”
It is the airplane that has a greater power than gravity and allows the person to accomplish their desire to fly. Similarly, it is the Holy Spirit that has greater power than the temptations and desires of this world that enables a believer to actually accomplish their desire of living according to God’s design and not caving in to the desires of the sinful nature
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16)
When we place our whole trust in Jesus, He puts the desires in our heart to obey Him. It is no longer something we do out of obligation.
“I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16)
That doesn’t mean you, or anyone, will be perfect. This is a gradual change and it doesn’t happen over night. The bible says in 1 Timothy 4:15:
“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”
It doesn’t say let everyone see your perfection! Thank God for that! As we give more and more of our desires and our control over to Jesus, He will change us and our progress will be evident, obvious, to all who look at us.
I praise God that anyone around me can tell you that I am not at all the same person I was even a year ago. But it has been the Holy Spirit’s gradual change in my life, not my effort to “be a better person”. All I have tried to do is focus on Him. He has showed me sin in my life and I have repented of it and gradually given it over to Him. I have, one by one, started to give up my own desires and received from Him a fresh new set of desires. They bring me so much more joy and satisfaction than my own interests, desires, and plans ever did! Jesus’ “burden” and “yoke” really ARE light!
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:2-3)
We can’t earn God’s favor by our own human effort. It says it right there in His Word. We must BELIEVE the message, that is, we must BELIEVE in the truth of who Jesus Christ is (God, who choose to come to the earth as a man) and what He did (paid the debt of our sins by living a perfect life, dieing on the cross, and conquering death). If we believe this message, we already have favor, good standing, in the eyes of God. It is a done deal!
Unless this issue is firmly, once and for all, settled in your mind and heart, you can’t and won’t experience the transformation that I talked about above. And, God WILL seem distant, unreachable, and like he isn’t there.
I can’t know for sure (only you and God can), but I suspect this might be the source of your frustration. Have you ever been so grieved and saddened by the all sin in your life that you repented of it and gave it over to Jesus? Have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you of all your sins (past and future), including the sin of resentment expressed in your letter? Have you ever (in complete faith) placed total control of your life in Jesus’ hands (made Him your Lord)? Did you do this while whole-heartedly believeing that He was God and he came to earth to die for you so that you can be free from the weight and penalty of your sin (free from the condemnation of not being perfect)? Did you believe Him and trust that His blood shed for you was powerful enough to pay for all your sins and that He was the perfection lived in your place? If not then do so now!
You see, we don’t have to be perfect . . . because Christ was. He did it for us, in our place, because it was something we could never do. You wrote in your comment that you “have nothing left to bring to God”. That’s just it; you can NEVER bring anything to God! The bible says:
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Even the best things we can do for God are tainted, filthy, before Him because they are done with impure (selfish) motives. No one can ever come to God and say, “I am such a good person, look at all these wonderful things I have done for you.” God will not hear such a person because they are proud in heart and not repentant of their many sins. For Jesus gave this example:
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)
The tax collector (like you) realized that he had nothing to bring to God. This is why Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3) A person who is “poor in spirit” knows that they need God and that they can’t earn his favor, they can’t bring anything to the table.
God doesn’t call us or pick us because we have something to offer Him. He doesn’t choose an “A-Team” of winners. He isn’t the “Team Captain” at recess picking the fastest, most athletic, or popular payers. In fact, it is just the opposite.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
Niel Anderson, in the book I have been quoting, says this:
“Too many Christians are trying to show that the bible is true by the way they live. It will never work for them. We accept what God says as true and live according to faith, and this abundant life works out in our experience. If we try to make it true by the way we live we will never get there . . . We are saved by faith and we walk or live by faith . . . We are neither saved nor sanctified by how we behave but by how we believe.
“You have to know and believe the positional truth [who you are in Christ . . . a saint to successfully progress in your sanctification [spiritual growth] or you are going to try doing for yourself what God has already done for you.”
If you can come to understand this it will free you! You say you have many questions about the bible. I think once you understand this truth, much if it will begin to make a lot more sense for you. I would be happy to answer any questions that remain (to the best of my ability). In fact, Please call me or, if you’d rather, give me your phone number and I will call you. I would love to explain this over the phone because I could then understand better what you are going through. It is hard to convey what I mean in writing.
If your answers to the question I asked you about accepting Jesus Christ were all “yes”, then the next possibility is that you are a Christian that is experiencing a period where it seems like God is not near to you.
In fact, some of the godliest men in the bible went through this. They even recorded their crisis of faith for us to read. I believe God had those put in His word so that we can be comforted, knowing that it is not uncommon for us to wonder God, where are you? Why can’t I hear you? Why aren’t you helping me?
I encourage you to read the book of Psalms. It is littered with the earnest cries of people desperately seeking to find God in the midst of feelings of abandonment, loss, hopelessness, loneliness, and doubt. Some examples are Psalms 6, 13, 22, 25:9 & 15-22, 28, 34:18, 42:1 & 11, 51:11-12, 62, 63, 77, 88, and 102. I don’t think this would be such a reoccurring theme if it weren’t a common feeling. What you are feeling is real and valid. Here are some examples of how the psalmists cried out in the midst of this pain:
“Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love . . . I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.” (Psalms 6:2-4, 6-7)
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.” (Psalm 22:1-2)
“O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” (Psalm 51:11-12)
“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?” (Psalm 77:1-9)
The feelings you have are no different than the ones expressed by these men of faith. The only difference is how you have responded. The difference is in what these experiences have caused you to conclude. The psalmist in Psalm 77 above doesn’t just leave his feelings there. He asks the question of God, “have your promises permanently failed”, but he concludes that they have not. He goes on to say:
“But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you?” (Psalm 77:11-13)
Life in this world is hard. The world is fallen and needs to be redeemed. Redemption starts with the individual soul before God. One day, it will extend to all creation (Romans 8:18-29). Remember, when God came in the flesh to this world, it was hard for Him (he was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief – Isaiah 53:3). In fact, Christ even quoted the verse from Psalm 22 above when he was hanging on the cross. Even Jesus felt that sense of abandonment that you are feeling.
“At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema abachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Our feelings are not adequate to reveal reality. Feelings change with the wind…and time. When my feelings tell me that God does not love me or accept me, I discipline myself to focus on the cross of Jesus Christ. It becomes for me a neon banner in the black of my night flashing the love of God for me whether I feel it or not. GOD WILLING TO DIE FOR ME. Therefore, I am willing to live for Him, whether I feel it or not.
Marion, Jesus loves you. He died for you. He doesn’t “ignore our needs and hurts” as you say. He cared so much about your need (to be forgiven and saved) that he endured your hurts (your sin) and bore them all on the cross. Jesus did not come to remove hurt and pain from your life. . . that is heaven. He came to save you from your sin and take the heavy load of living perfect off your shoulders.
The very fact that you are reading this shows that God cares a ton about the very needs and hurts you are talking about! He compelled an absolute stranger (on the other side of the world, mind you) to spend almost a whole day (a huge holiday in my country) praying for you and responding to you. You need to know that God told me to do it. These words are His very words to you. He loves you so much! I only wish you knew.
You can’t rely on your feelings as the barometer of what is true. Whether I feel like I am 31 or not, it doesn’t change the FACT that I am. The same is true of what God promises us. And He does promise that if we seek Him we WILL find Him.
“But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. . .” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:7-11)
This I know for sure, if you really come to God in a contrite heart, broken over your sin, and seek him with of your heart (as the verses above state), you will find him! What is the condition of your heart? Are you coming to Him with bitterness, resentment, unconfused sin, or parts of your life you are unwilling to give Him? You must seek Him with your whole heart.
God is near to the brokenhearted. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) You must be broken over your sin, broken of your desire to live life your own way (through “your determination”). Come to Him in this way. As you do this, you must wait patiently for the Lord to act, trusting that He will. Sometimes He may wait just to see how much we really trust Him or believe in Him. If we give up then it shows He really wasn’t first in our life and we didn’t really seek Him wholeheartedly.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7)
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)
As you wait patiently, continue to ask God and seek him (“Keep on asking and knocking”).
Lastly, you must find a church that will teach the bible correctly. It seems like you have been taught that you must earn God’s favor. There are churches everywhere that will help you to understand the truth of the bible. I can help with questions (and I will), but you need a group of believers to walk through life with you. Your daughter needs to see the Christian life lived out.
I sincerely hope this helped you. I will pray for you. If nothing else, you have at least 20 people praying for you in America now! And God answers their prayers, I’ve seen it! Please call me, I’d love to talk with you more and help in anyway I can.
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