2020 a year we had so looked forward to, was a tough year by every standard. It was mostly filled with days of uncertainty, times of loneliness, periods of fear, sorrow and grief. We were forced to acknowledge our humanity and limitations, introduced to our weakness and strengths and for most of us, we re-evaluated our priorities, beliefs, doctrines and perspectives.
Things that were hitherto sacrosanct and sacred like going to our places of worship became unhallowed, where we had seen things in black and white, we began to notice shades of grey.
It was a year when many of us looked toward heaven not only for help but for answers to our questions for we became perplexed, overwhelmed, shaken in our faith and beliefs , the usual platitudes we often muttered to ourselves failing us woefully.
Today, a lot of us are wondering if God is true ,if he is unbiased and fair, if he sees our pains , if truly there is more to our existence here on earth or if we are just pawns in an heavenly game of chess, but we are hesitant to voice out those thoughts that question the goodness and realities of God, we remember what was said of Job -that he suffered loss, sorrow and disease but did not curse God so we trudge on with a stiff upper lip, mouthing platitudes whilst our hearts swell with resentment and distrust.
We dare not ask those questions that we truly want to ask because we think they are blasphemous and may even turn Gods anger against us up a notch or two or that our faith will be destroyed when we subject it to interrogation.
I was like that years back holding up Job as my role model for trusting God in the midst of trouble until two things happened:
1. l took time to study his story and had a different perspective of his woes. Job may not have cursed God but he sure did accuse him and he cursed- he cursed himself, his parents, his life and everything in-between. He bemoaned his fate and asked questions , he put God behind a witness box and cross examined him as an accused. I read his account with my heart racing and wondering how he could have been described as not turning against God, for what was left to be said that he didn’t say and though i knew what his end will be, I enquired as to why he was not punished further for surely God would not tolerate such insolence from a mere mortal.
God response was majestic, in one breath he stated he was not accountable to Job or any mortal and in another he sought to give him some answers. I noted happily that in his response not once did he berate him for asking questions as to the trajectory of his life.
2. I came into contact with “THE SHACK” a controversial fictional book by William P. Young which helped change my concept of who God is. Its the story of a man who because of his background was disenchanted with God and religion but who was seeking answers about the gruesome kidnap and murder of his daughter by a serial killer. In the book, he was invited for a weekend with God in the shack where she was killed. The book helped to deconstruct the image of God i had been fed with and made to believe in, in it God was depicted as a Fat black woman reminiscent of those black mammies in the southern part of America during the years of slavery and segregation, Jesus as middle eastern and the Holy spirit an Asian.
These 2 books made me acknowledge whatever hidden resentment i held towards God and made me see that it was okay to find myself at odds with his ways and plans for me, it was okay to ask the whys, okay to doubt and be distrustful at times and that God was not upset when i questioned him or my life. In fact he welcomed it and that though I may not get some or any answer, he cared enough to acknowledge my pain and angst.
It’s very easy to trust in God when everything is going according to or even exceeding our plans and expectations and very easy to doubt when things go bad. But we fool ourselves if we think he doesn’t know what we think or feel about him and our lives and our attempts to hide our true feelings only serve to hurt us more.’
I have always believed that if our beliefs cannot be questioned then they are not our beliefs but something that we inherited. For faith to be ours, it must be something that we have tried, tested and accepted as being true otherwise we are mouthing what someone else has experimented with. If God is truly God how can he be offended by our questions and does he not have the capacity to handle any questions we ask??
It is a sign of growth, when we question our beliefs. As little children, we believed all our parents told us was true, as we grew up we began to question those beliefs and a “because i said so “answer didn’t satisfy us.
Its the same with spiritual things we cant grow in faith if we don’t doubt what we believe and put it to a test. We will all at sometime in our lives experience a crisis of faith and doubt what we had hitherto believed, when doubt comes, please don’t feel guilty, embrace it, use those doubts to strengthen your faith by researching as to the veracity of your beliefs and choose what you really believe rather than what you were made to believe. As Ann C. Sullivan said in her book Permission to Doubt ” as believers we are told to give a reason for the hope we have but the truth we often overlook is that we cant be ready with answers unless we first ask the questions ourselves”.
I believe that one of the gifts that 2020 has bequeathed us with is the opportunity it has given us to question our beliefs and practices. So for all those who think its sacrilegious to question and ask the whys, pls do know that its okay to doubt, okay to ask, okay to wonder, okay to be overwhelmed and bewildered and to come to God with our questions. He will not turn us back neither will be upset, he may not give us all the answers we seek but he will hear us out and assure us of his love and presence and that’s all we really need to go into the next year.”
Here’s wishing us all a wonderful new year filled with an awareness of God’s love, presence and comfort and a big thank you for reading , commenting and sharing my thoughts throughout the year.