CHAPTER 2: AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DOUBTS GOD?

CHAPTER 2: AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DOUBTS GOD?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Presents Teens Talkin' Faith

Chapter Two

AM I THE

ONLY ONE WHO

DOUBTS GOD?

IF YOU FEED FAITH, DOUBT STARVES . . .

If you have ever questioned the reality or presence of God, then the teen excerpts in this chapter may help you realize that you are not alone. However, I ask that you keep your heart open to the rest of the book because I believe you will find a hope that is so often born in faith. If you identify with a passage written in this chapter, please keep reading because, as the saying goes, “If you feed faith, doubt starves.” At the same time, if you don’t identify with this chapter because you have never doubted God, then I encourage you to take these questions and doubts to heart, as they will help you to be more understanding of others while you grow in your faith.

Mrs. T

WHERE WAS GOD WHEN I GOT DISSED?

I’m having a really tough time in my life. Sometimes, I feel lost and alone, and I can’t find God. In one of those moments, I wrote this poem:

Where was God when I started to cry?

Where was God when I wanted to die?

Where was God when I felt left out?

Where was God when I screamed out?

Where was God when they judged me?

Where was God when no one would love me?

Where was God when I left my dad?

Where was God when I felt sad?

Where was God when I felt angry, violent, and depressed?

Where was God when they made fun of the way I dress?

Where was God when she broke up with me?

Where was God? He said He would always love me.

Where was God when I got pissed?

Where was God when I got dissed?

Where was God when my hopes died?

The more I bend, the harder they try.

Where was God when they put me down?

Where was God when they made me frown?

Where was God when I hated myself?

Where are you God? I need your help!

THOMAS, 14

I DO ENVY PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN GOD WITH NO DOUBTS . . .

Have you ever wondered if God is there? I do it all the time. I do not know if He really exists. Look at all the wars, hunger, and people who die unnecessarily. I know a lot of people ask these questions and doubt God. I do envy people who believe in God with no doubts or thought about it. I don’t know if I could do it. Maybe the path to a perfect relationship or friendship with God is to have some doubts, just as we all usually doubt our friends about things they do, but we still trust them. The thing is, to do this, you have to have great faith, and that takes time. Maybe after some time and many trials and tribulations, I can believe that strongly. I am not saying that when I turn thirty, I will have a great revelation. It will take some time, but I hope one day I will become a Christian with strong convictions.

CORBIN, 17

. . . I WISH THAT GOD WOULD SHOW ME A SIGN . . .

Wherever I go, I hear about God. God this and God that. People say they believe in God because something happens to them or there was a sign. Sometimes, I wish that God would show me a sign so that I could believe. I’ve tried to believe, but as I’ve gotten older, things have happened to me that cause me to still question if God is real. Also, I met some friends who have even worse problems than I have, so I ask, if there is a God, why would He let this happen to me and them? The more I think about it, the more I wonder. Why would God let people suffer so badly if He is so great? How do we know somebody didn’t just make Him up? I hope someone didn’t, though, because I really would like to believe.

RONALD, 15

YET, I DOUBT HIM . . .

Even though I am very blessed, I can’t seem to find God in my life. Perhaps I am not searching for Him hard enough, or I am waiting for Him to come to me. I do not know. I have so much going on in my life. I don’t feel like I can let anyone else in, even my Protector and Provider. I know the Lord is good to me, and I know He has given me incredible gifts. Yet, I doubt Him. I feel He will not be there to lead me to heaven. I fear He won’t accept me. What if He doesn’t understand me?

God, to me, is like a fact. Like, I know nature exists, and it contains great beauty and splendor, but I don’t care. I know God is there, and He is doing so much for me, but I cannot directly see that. Therefore, it doesn’t matter. It is a harsh realization that I feel no connection with my God, but I don’t know what to do. It is really a sad situation. I feel like I have plenty of time to find Him, and that He will always wait for me.

However, even worse, I myself am waiting for something. I am waiting for that great lightning bolt or the booming voice from the sky. Still, I think the chances of such things happening are very slim. So what am I doing, really? I am fooling myself. I am buying myself time and using my confusion as an excuse for my lacking efforts. I know these things. But I don’t feel any impetus causing me to get on the road to change. I have seen God. I find Him every day. He is in my parents, who sacrifice everything for my sister and me. He is in my dearest friends, who help me to see things differently and bring so much happiness to me. Most importantly, I find Him in the strangers, in the people who offer smiles for no reason and tell me to have a good day and really mean it. God is there. In fact, He is so close I could touch Him. However, these encounters with God are not enough. I cannot get true satisfaction from God’s presence in others until I find Him in myself.

JANNESSA, 18

WHY DOES HE LET ALL THE GOOD KIDS DIE?

The concept of God confuses me. I just don’t see how it is possible for a guy to make all of us little people. I have all of these questions: If there is a God, then who made Him? How can He know everything about everyone? How can He control every event that happens? Why does He let all the good kids die? But, on the other hand, how would all of us be here if not for God? I mean, everything has its maker. For instance, buildings don’t just pop up without anyone making them, so isn’t it the same with all of creation? Like our bodies—they’re just perfect. We have everything we need, like eyes, ears, a nose, and all of our organs. It’s like someone designed us. So when I think that way, I think there must be a God. I still feel confused, though.

BILLY, 14

. . . IT IS VERY HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE TO BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THEY CANNOT SEE AND TOUCH . . .

Today, in a world of sin and betrayal, it is very hard for some people to believe in something they cannot see and touch. I am one of those people. I find it hard to believe in something if I have never totally witnessed it. Primarily, I think it is hard to find an honest and trustworthy person, let alone God. Finding an honest person today is like finding a diamond in the rough. Finding God, I think, is even more difficult. I have never seen or touched Him, and there is no scientific proof that He even exists. Although there are times when I feel I need Him, I am scared to pray to Him because I don’t really have faith. I feel like a hypocrite if I pray and ask for His help. For me, faith in God is a very confusing thing. I have yet to really begin my religious journey, and I am truthfully not in any hurry. However, I know there will be a time in my life that I will have to turn to God. I hope at that time that God will lead me through my confusion.

SARAH, 17

. . . DOES HE THINK I THINK HE’S THERE?

When I was asked to write for this book, this poem flowed right from my heart to the paper. These are questions that I ask every day:

Is He really there?

Does He really hear my prayer?

Does He ever sit and stare?

Does He know my every thought?

Does He know when I’ve been caught?

Does He hear when I’m in doubt?

Does He know when I shout?

Does He know when I’m hurt?

Does He know when I flirt?

Does He think I think He’s there?

Does He really even care?

Does He ever really know?

How can He ever show?

Can He help me when I’m down?

Can He save me when I frown?

Does He really have the power to sit and make the whole world cower?

Is He able to make me share all the things I wouldn’t dare?

Does He know when I am wrong?

Does He know when I can’t be strong?

Does He ever stand right by when I sit alone and cry?

Is He really there for me when no one else is there to see?

Should I ever really believe in something that I must conceive?

Is there some way to show me how He’s really there, here and now?

DEENA, 16

. . . I AM CONFUSED AND DOUBTFUL . . .

Like Thomas in the biblical book of John, I am questioning my faith. I have gone through nine years of a private religious school, and during this time I have been told that God exists and that I do believe in Him. In all those years, I have never been asked if I actually do believe in God. Like Thomas, I would like to be shown that Jesus and God are real. Now that I have been asked, for the first time, what I believe in, I am confused and doubtful, and like many others I have questions that need to be answered. Will Jesus let me feel the wound in His side or give me another sign? Or will I have to discover faith on my own?

MANDIE, 16

MY EMPTINESS HAS BECOME A PUDDLE OF TEARS . . .

Sometimes I would question God and ask him why he was letting my life play out to be like it is. I would ask Him why my dad wasn’t around, why he didn’t pay child support, and why he would only call once a year or maybe twice if I was lucky. I had so many questions. Was God listening? After age eleven, it didn’t mean too much to me when my dad would send an “I love you” card in the mail because he was never there. I had to mature so much faster than everyone else because of this. And I never really knew what happened to my dad. I was told that I was “too young to understand.” But guess what? I grew up. No mom and dad for me, just mom. That’s when it finally hit me that my dad was never coming home and that this life I was living wasn’t just a dream. Memories started to gather into a blur. My dad’s voice was just a faint sound of disappointment. I fear now that my dad is just a stranger in the picture lying in my closet. I never see him. He rarely calls. No birthday gifts even. Instead, he sends me IOUs. My emptiness has become a puddle of tears, and I am thankful that I have other family to keep me from drowning in it. My dad’s being there when I was really little was just something I took for granted. Sometimes I want to be three years old again, so he can throw me up in the skylight just once more. But then I realize that our past is vanishing. My dad doesn’t honestly even know me; he is not a part of my life anymore. In my confusion, I pray. “God, where are You? Give me an answer to why this is my life. Help me resist wanting to have a perfect life. Why can’t my dad be the one to tuck me in at night or take me to a father/daughter dance? Why can’t I be someone who can call someone their father and actually be proud of it?” Instead, I have an empty place in my heart, just waiting for my dad’s company. I have a challenge ahead of me to make sure that I don’t follow in his footsteps and turn out like him. I must struggle to get over all this and overcome. So, I pray to God. And even as I wait for an answer, in all of my uncertainty, I know God has been there and has helped me through my life.

ALIX, 14

. . . MOST OF THE SUMMER I SPENT DOUBTING . . .

I lost my best friend to leukemia this summer. His name was Justin. He taught me many things while he was here on Earth, but the main gift Justin gave me was to follow the Lord, who is guidance, and all will be okay. To be honest, most of the summer I spent doubting God, being afraid and mad at Him because I knew He would be taking my closest friend away from me. But on the night Justin died, I was driving home with my family, and I saw this giant orange harvest moon. Mind you, it was the beginning of July! For some strange reason, I felt as if this moon was God talking to me, telling me not to doubt Him, but to believe that Justin is in a better place, no matter how hard it was to see him go. My favorite quote from the Bible is when Jesus spoke to the people and said, “’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12)” That night in July, I saw the light of Jesus. His light led me from doubting God to knowing that I do not have to see to believe.

CIARRA, 14

. . . I LOST FAITH IN GOD . . .

Last year, confusion and sadness were daily issues in my life. My relationship with my best friend had fallen apart, and I honestly thought my world was over. Because of my lost friendship, I lost faith in God. I refused to go to church, and I couldn’t stand it when people prayed in front of me. But then, over the summer, I met some new people, and my faith was renewed. I found out that my friendships with other people have a lot to do with my friendship with God. It wasn’t God’s fault that I had a falling-out with a friend. Maybe if I had listened to God, I would have recovered more quickly. He had better things waiting for me. I just didn’t know it.

HEIDI, 14

. . . I DOUBTED THERE WAS SUCH A THING AS GOD . . .

I believe in God, but I used to get confused. Sometimes, I thought, God is up in heaven just hanging out. And, sometimes, I thought, There is no such thing as God. I began thinking that after my brother died about seven years ago. He had some kind of rare cancer. I was only about six or seven, but I doubted there was such a thing as God. About two years after that, my mom went to jail. I was depressed a lot. I used to think, If there was a God, He wouldn’t let this all happen. But I guess now I believe in God because I really don’t have such a bad life. I mean, aside from all the usual bad stuff, my life is not all that bad. And I have come to see that what happens, happens. My mom made choices that landed her in jail. That’s just life. If none of the bad stuff would have happened to me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So I guess, in a way, I am glad God didn’t change anything. I believe in God again, and I like who I am. Me.

RESHAUD, 14

. . . HE WOULD BE LEFT A QUADRIPLEGIC . . .

When I was around the age of six, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This was a lot to handle at my young age. After the surgeons operated on the brain tumor, I did not understand what had happened; I just knew that this was not the father I remembered. My father’s tumor was the size of a lemon and attached to the motor strip, a part of your brain that controls movement. The surgeons who operated on my dad were afraid that if they removed the entire tumor, he would be left a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. Days after the operation, I was finally allowed to visit my father. He sat propped up in bed, disoriented, and wondering who I was. No moment has ever in my life left me feeling so alone. With time, my father gradually became better, though he had to relearn almost every aspect of human life. Eventually, life finally began returning to the normalcy I so deeply yearned for. This may sound like things turned out fine, but about a year and a half later, my father’s tumor began growing back, and he had to go in for chemotherapy. This was very scary to me when I was younger because he lost his hair and became sick. I was especially sad if I got sick because then I couldn’t be with my father as it would put him at risk. For the next six or seven years, my father battled his tumor. When I became older, I started to ask myself why this was happening, and why it was my father and my family. I started to wonder what sort of God would let this happen to my dad and put my family in this vulnerable position. I was confused and began to lose my faith. Eventually, though, after talking to my priest and gaining his insight, I came to believe that perhaps God was testing my faith through everything that had happened. Maybe there was a reason for it all, even if I couldn’t understand that reason. All of a sudden, it felt like a giant burden had been lifted off my shoulders, and my faith was restored.

STANLEY, 14

I AM CONFUSED ABOUT GOD . . .

I have been confused many times throughout my life. I entered ninth grade thinking it was going to be as easy as seventh and eighth grade. In the seventh and eighth grade, your teachers baby you more, but when I got into ninth grade I felt like I was on my own. There are so many more responsibilities. I had never spent an entire weekend just doing homework until ninth grade. My friendships also changed. I realized that the friends I grew up with weren’t such good friends to me anymore, but I also made a lot of new friends. There have been weeks when my life is so hectic that I wonder if there is a God. There have been times that I pray for things to get better, yet they don’t. Sometimes I feel like I should just run away, but then I realize how many people I would miss and who would miss me. God is so confusing! I don’t go to church as much as I should, so I feel like I should be punished, or I think that God should make my week bad or something. Why didn’t I feel this way when I was younger? I hated going to church, but now it is something I like to do. See how confused I am? I am confused about God, yet I want to go to church. I am confused about life right now. I don’t even know how to fix it or where to begin to fix my problems. I pray that things will just get better, and sometimes they do. I just remember, or try to remember, that God never gives us more than we can handle.

GINA, 14

. . . IF THERE WAS NO GOD, THEN WHAT WAS . . .

When I was in the eighth grade, I began to doubt God. I was questioning everything I had always been taught, like that there was a God and that this God was all-loving and -forgiving. I was asking questions, and I wasn’t getting any answers. Also, at the time, my parents were fighting a lot, and my older brother had just left for college, so I was feeling really alone. I prayed to God and asked Him to help my parents stop fighting and to give me all of the answers I needed. It didn’t seem like God was even there. It just seemed like I was talking to nobody. None of my prayers were being answered, and my parents were getting worse. I was scared because if there was no God, then what was out there? Who was protecting us?

I started to not sleep. I just kept thinking about there not being a God, and I was always freaking myself out. I would stay up as late as I could because I didn’t want to think about it, and if I went to bed, it would consume my thoughts.

My mom finally asked me what was wrong, and I told her that I doubted there was a God because of all the stuff that our family was going through. I told her how I prayed for help, and God never answered me. I told her about how I couldn’t sleep at night because of it. So my mom started reading me this book about angels. It was filled with stories about people and how their guardian angel helped save their lives. She read to me until I fell asleep every night. By the time we finished the book, our family problems were starting to improve, I was getting my answers, and I could finally sleep at night. I felt like I had betrayed God by doubting His existence, but I remembered what I had been taught. God is all-loving and -forgiving—and I have never doubted Him again.

TOBYN, 17

“T ” TALK

There have been various times in my life when I have doubted God. I think that we all probably have. Perhaps you currently question the presence or reality of God. Maybe you believe in God but have experienced a situation in your life that caused you to mistrust God or your faith. I remember a time when I doubted the most. My memory takes me back to my freshman year of college when my mom called to tell me that my friend, Dana, had been killed in a car accident. I was overwhelmingly saddened over the loss of my friend, but even more than that, I was angry at God for the injustice of it all. After everything that Dana had been through, I didn’t understand why a loving God would let this tragedy occur. You see, just a few years before, when Dana was sixteen and living in northern California with her dad, she was involved in her first car accident.

Dana’s sunroof was open in her sporty little car as she slowed to a stop on the frontage road that met with her long driveway. As she waited to turn, the driver of a semitruck came barreling along the road behind her. By the time he realized that her car was stopped, it was too late. Upon collision, the impact was so extreme that Dana was ejected through the sunroof and thrown far into a field off the road. She landed with such force that, although there appeared to be no external injuries, she suffered from extensive internal trauma. Dana was in a coma for over six weeks, during which time her parents feared that she would die. As they prayed for her recovery, Dana fought deep inside her damaged body to live. Amazingly, she did.

The severity of Dana’s brain injuries meant she had to learn the most basic tasks all over again. With determination, she started to talk, walk, and regain control of her arms and hands. It was as if she was a mere toddler, taking baby steps. Each accomplishment was a praise to God. Several months after the accident, Dana moved in with her mom and step-dad. Although she continued to struggle with her speech and short-term memory, Dana finally felt that she had her life back. In fact, her best friend later told me that she thought Dana was perhaps more at peace than she had ever been.

Following her accident, Dana shared a wonderful relationship with her mom and stepdad. They were extremely close and came to appreciate each other in a way they hadn’t before. Dana began going to church with her mom and accepted God into her life. She had graduated from high school and fell in love. Life looked bright! And now this. How could it happen to one person twice? I didn’t understand. Why did she fight so hard to live, when she was going to die just a few short years later? Why would God take her, when He had given her such a wonderful second chance at life? None of it made sense to me. It occurred to me at the time that if God would let something like this happen, then I didn’t know if I wanted to believe in Him. I questioned how He could even be real, because in my mind a real and loving God would not have caused her parents, fiancé, and friends this much pain. He would not give them the hope of her life, only to snatch it away. For that matter, He wouldn’t have given Dana the faith in a new start merely to deprive her of it before it even began. How could He?

Dana’s mom was the one to answer that question for me. She explained that instead of feeling cheated, she felt blessed by God with the gift of three more years. Had Dana died after her first accident, they would not have had such quality time together these last few years. They had learned and loved so much. It was a time to treasure and be grateful for, she told me. I realized then that it was all about perspective. If Dana’s mom could praise God during this time of tragedy, then why couldn’t I? When I started to look at it from her point of view, I grew spiritually and personally. I came to realize that had I not doubted God, I would not have grown. The best part of my newfound insight, though, was that God understood my lack of faith.

Furthermore, I don’t believe that doubting God hurts His feelings. Instead, I trust that it gives Him an opportunity to teach and love us. I understand how easy it is to jump into anger and frustration, put up a wall, and turn your back on God. The sad part is that this doesn’t benefit us in any way. Doubting God’s presence and power is natural, but it is also lonely. When we allow ourselves to believe that God sees a bigger picture than we do, that His vision is incomprehensible to us, we might find acceptance in our doubt. We likely will not understand why we must experience sadness and loss, trial or tragedy, but we can find peace in our acceptance that God knows.

A friend of mine once used the analogy of a hole in a fence to help answer the questions of life situations that don’t seem to make sense. She said that as people living in God’s creation, it is like we are standing behind a fence. On the other side of the fence, a parade is passing by. Unfortunately, the fence is tall, and we cannot see over it to glimpse a view of the parade. So we look through a little knothole that is present in a slat of the fence. We are able to see bits and pieces of the parade, but because our view is limited, we cannot conceive the entirety of the experience. This causes us to wonder why certain entries don’t seem to match the theme or why a particular float is decorated in such a way. It is frustrating and confusing from our point of view. The colors don’t flow. The bands are disconnected. We only see small portions of the floats, so it is difficult to tell what they represent. And, most discouragingly, we don’t know where the route leads. Yet, from God’s viewpoint, the parade is marvelous. He can see the complete procession, and therefore He fully understands the journey.

I often think of this comparison when I question the purpose or outcome of certain situations in my life. Occasionally, I get frustrated when a person dies or experiences a hardship, and I hear someone else say, “Everything happens for a reason.” For those of us who have felt the pain of losing a loved one or experiencing an injustice like hunger, neglect, or abuse, there doesn’t seem to be any “reason” on this Earth that is good enough. I have frequently felt that such a statement is extremely superficial. And yet, in a sense, this is where I now find hope. If we do not have the answers, then God does. Someday, we will understand. However, in our present lack of understanding, we can grow, learn, and accept God’s love and comfort for us.

Keep in mind, faith is a journey. If you don’t ask questions, then how can you learn and grow? You have to start somewhere. For you, like some of the teens who wrote for this chapter, that place might be outright disbelief. If so, that is okay. Yet I would hope that you will read this book with an open heart. For if you are open, then perhaps there will be something written on these pages that you can identify with. Maybe a teen will share an experience that is similar to something you have faced. Hopefully, through this book you will discover some answers to questions that have always confused you and create in you a desire to know more about God.

Also, know that if you do doubt God, your skepticism may have originated from an issue related to a specific religion. I pray that through this book you will find that turning to God does not have to be about religion; more important, it is about a relationship. I have spoken with many teens, as well as adults, who have been turned off by religion. Perhaps they have observed hypocrisy within a particular church, or maybe they don’t agree with certain rituals. As such, religion can occasionally be the basis for disbelief. Please don’t assume that I am saying religion is wrong, because I am not. Actually, religion can give us a foundation, structure, and a community with which to enjoy fellowship. But religion without relationship can be meaningless. God calls you into a relationship with Him. When Jesus died and was resurrected, He sent the Holy Spirit so that you could have God with you always, so that you could know God, feel Him, and have a relationship with Him. Qualities of a healthy relationship include conversation, understanding, loyalty, and love. The Bible promises that God is committed to this type of relationship and desires it with you.

On the other hand, if you have already accepted the Lord into your life, then you know how wonderful and fulfilling a relationship with Him can be. Frequently, people who consider themselves believers feel guilty if or when they doubt God. If you have ever felt this way, please know that God understands it when we question Him. He doesn’t condemn us for our doubt. A Christian leader once told me that he believed that God actually liked us to doubt. He said, “Without doubt, we sometimes get stagnant in our relationship with God. Yet when we ask questions of God, we become energized to find the answers.” And even if you don’t find the answers that you may be looking for, as many teens shared in this chapter, God will still be waiting for you when you are ready to turn to Him. He is also prepared to guide you from your disbelief and help you rediscover your faith.

Despite your current spiritual beliefs, there is a reason that we doubt. Doubt causes us to question. As we question, we discover; as we discover, we grow. It is likely that our life journeys are going to take us down different roads. But if we welcome growth upon our path through life, it will enrich our hearts and fill us with hope. As you read through the pages of this book, I pray that you open the door to your heart and allow your faith to grow.

Mrs. T

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