Confidence in belief

I’ve been wondering as to how one gains confidence in their beliefs. I know it doesn’t happen overnight but i find myself going back and forth on this journey of mine. An example is i could come across an uplifting article that may give me confidence in the idea that there is a God, on the other hand i could come across an article that tears down the idea by stating it is illogical, irrational, etc.

So i guess my question is what are some points in your life that you can recall in which your faith was shaken or broken and how did you heal afterwords?

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Paying attention to the right things is important. You certainly don’t need to go hanging around where it’s dark – sites where atheists and skeptics try and pull people down. You can certainly ask God to give you evidence of himself, but be prepared to wait – he does honor those who are honest and humble seekers and who speak truth to themselves. Remember Maggie and Rich Stearns’ accounts. Read the Bible with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s attitude. Psalms are good.

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Read books that are autobiographical or first person accounts of Christians. Peace Child, Eternity in Their Hearts, End of the Spear, Through Gates of Splendor, The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), Born Again… True testimonies are good confidence builders until you have experience of your own. God is trustworthy.

One Thousand Gifts is good, too – it starts with loss and is about rebuilding faith. When the author was only five, her toddler sister was killed by a delivery truck in their farmyard. An Iraqi Muslim man became a Christian through reading it (that’s pretty high praise :slightly_smiling_face:).

Faith is only vulnerable when it impinges on the day to day life. Abstract or theoretic faith is easy. It has nothing to prove or disprove. God can be distant and impersonal. He can be all knowing. But, if something happens that forces our faith to have practical implications then it can waiver. Death, hurt, sickness, and uncertainty, these are the things that test faith, especially if we try and force God to get involved, usually by some sort of prayer or cry for help. Now we have to decide where our faith, and God, sit in our view of life. Where is God in …

I have known many people lose their faith because God did not appear to be there when they need Him the most. I say appear because, if God is real then He must be there. The problem is that sometimes we need more than an invisible, incorporeal, presence. And identifying God’s hand or influence is most difficult when it is personal and you are in the thick of it

Christianity (and other faiths) do not promise and easy life, or life wthout suffering. Many faiths impose self sacrifical practices that impose their own suffering, prhaps to hide any suffering that might already be present. Christianity claims persecution but it is the random or nonreligious hurt that becomes the issue.

The standard answer is tht Christ Suffered to share in our suffering and we draw strength from Him to overcome. It is simple, almost trite, and almost impossible to argue against. If we do not feel it then it is our fault. If we find the strength to endure then we are supposed to thank God!

:sunglasses:

Richard

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As a young person being drawn to Christ, I heard someone on Christian radio say, “Why not ask Jesus into your life?” So in that moment I did ask Jesus into my life. Sometime later after beginning to attend church and taking classes there, I had to write a paper about sin or the gospel. I don’t remember, but I remember not having the words. There was a real mental block. So I asked God to give me the gospel. Maybe a month later, after an odd series of events, I was on my knees understanding for the first time that I deserved to go to hell. “But Lord, would you still allow me a place under the table, so this miserable mangy dog can be near you.” He did, and I understood the gospel after that.

I think the knowledge of our sin is one of the most compelling evidences a person can have for being a Christian. Jesus said he came for sinners and not the righteous. And in my personal experience, the conviction of sin the Holy Spirit brings, is the self-evident work for the “therefore know for certain” in Acts 2:14-36.

And then there was the that moment when all hope was lost. Nothing literally made sense, and people were senseless. “Oh Jesus, if I only I could touch your feet, then I would know you are there and I won’t be alone.” Believe me when I say the last thing I expected was that Jesus would come into my heart. Voices and flashing lights, even an angel appearing from heaven would have been meaningless to me. He showed his love for me.

It’d take another 15 years before I experience his presence again. So you never really know what to expect with God. An interesting short little book, besides Mere Christianity, if you’re in the mood for reading is Jonathan Edwards’ A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God.

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@Trippy_Elixir, Dale makes a good point about where you direct your attention. I understand the value of counter-arguments, but you have enough of them in yourself already. It’s important to attend to the thing at hand, by itself, and really get a grasp of it.
If I’m going to see if a new plant will grow well or poorly or invasively in my yard, I don’t first prime the soil with herbicides.

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My confidence comes from multiple things.

  1. The way I became a Christian. I’ve typed it out before. In a nutshell I believed in God but did not really know the teachings on him. I also just moved over 2,000 miles from my home and was in a city where I knew no one and was pretty lonely. I looked forward to work just for the small talk. I literally was working multiple jobs, coming home, spend time with the woman I was with and go to bed. Was very boring not having any friends outside of my relationship for almost 2 years. So I prayed to meet some other guys who were Christians that I could hang with that enjoyed working out and some other things. Right after that prayer I went to subway. The guy was making sandwiches ( worker ) and giving a free one to a homeless lady and he was telling her about God. I wanted to talk to him, felt like he was the friend I just prayed for a few moments ago. But felt stupid and so said nothing. So ashamed I left and went back to my condo and told her what happened. She ad that’s the fastest she has seen a prayer answered and I should go back. So I did but he was not there and I asked this girl who worked there and she said he just left and that was his last day.

I went back feeking defeated. The next day I woke up and went to go get coffee. While inside waiting to order I saw this time a group of guys praying and studying the Bible. I felt God gave me a scone chance. But as I was waiting to order someone else told the to shut up they don’t want to hear about the Bible. The person was extremely rude. They Eve threw their coffee at the table. So I was like this is far to much drama and went to leave. I had just pushed the door open and was already one for out and I heard someone running towards me yelling “ hey “ and so I turned expecting trouble but it turned out it was one of the guys from the Bible study and he was also the same guy from subway the day before. The fist thing he said was that this is going to sound weird but he felt like God was telling him to talk to me and he felt weird yesterday and when he saw that it was me again , he got up and wet to get napkins I think I because of the coffee ad saw me. He als enjoyed working out and became my running buddy for a while.

So that’s to many coincidences for me to just believe it did not have some sort of inspiration from God.

  1. The fact that science does not demand atheism but leaves the door open for theism.

  2. The beautiful complexities of the biblical stories.

  3. Other Christian, especially my local congregations I go too.

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I know school is demanding of your time and energy, and you find yourself surrounded by book-junkies here. It can be overwhelming. However, engaging with a thorough examination of a matter in a well-written, well-reasoned book that takes time to ingest and digest might be a better use of your “self-directed” time than lots of time online with counterpoint podcasts and discussion groups. I recommend you try it out.

Here are some quotes from the single most helpful book (to me, of course) that I’ve read. This book is not a apologetic for the existence of a god or faith in a god per se. It’s about an accurate understanding of suffering, death and evil, and the solace that God has for us in Jesus Christ. I think it addresses many of your questions, but maybe through the side door. If you find it’s in the right direction for you, they come from A Place for Weakness by Michael Horton.

Chapter Two: Good news for Losers

    “The Christian movement is a degeneracy movement composed of reject and refuse elements of every kind…It is therefore not national, not racially conditioned; it appeals to the disinherited everywhere; it is founded on a rancor against everything well-constituted and dominant: it needs a symbol that represents a curse on the well-constituted and dominant. It also stands in opposition to every spiritual movement, to all philosophy: it takes the side of idiots and utters a curse on the spirit. Rancor against the gifted, learned, spiritually independent; it detects in them the well-constituted, the masterful…”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (pg. 22)

Later from pages 26 & 27

    The bottom line of this book is that the gospel is good news for losers, that in fact we are all losers if we measure ourselves by God’s interpretation of reality rather than our own. The demand for glory, power, comfort, autonomy, health, and wealth creates a vicious cycle of craving and disillusionment. It even creates its own industry of therapists and exercise, style and self-esteem gurus – and churches – to massage the egos wounded by this hedonism. When crisis hits, the soul is too effete to respond appropriately. We become prisoners of our own felt needs, which are inculcated in us in the first place by the very marketplace that promises a “fix.” We become victims of our own shallow hopes. We are too easily disappointed because we are too easily persuaded that the marketplace always has something that can make us happy.
    As C.S. Lewis pointed out, it is not our desires that are too strong…, but that they are too weak. The irony of our lives is that we demand the ephemeral, momentary glories of this fading age, too easily amused and seduced by the trivial, when ultimate joy is held out to us.

And a bit farther on (pgs 30 & 31)
After quoting from Psalms (of lament) 77, 88 and 89, Horton continues:

    To be sure, there are also answers to these laments: God is gracious and compassionate, faithful to his promises. Yet there is a real trial going on here, **not only a trial of the human partner but of the Covenant Lord himself. Only if we allow ourselves to take seriously the empirical evidence that seems to count against God’s faithfulness to his promises are we able to receive an answer that is as deep and provocative as the question.
    But in contemporary piety and worship, discordant keys are not allowed; just keep it happy. Our public worship today is a fatal index of the fact that we do not know what to do in the presence of a God who is not only our friend but also our judge. We do not know what to do with sin, evil, and death in this culture, by suppressing the question we deprive people of the comfort that comes from the answer.

    [ ]Judaism and Christianity have held to a somber view of death: The world was not meant to be this way. Something is wrong…Only biblical faith faces the death as a foe and, without hiding the scandal in soft platitudes, announces its conquest with military fanfare. Anchored in the Scriptures, Christians have a healthy respect fo the enemy. Death is not an abstract concept but a personified character in the drama of redemption. It is death’s victory, not its reality, which is overcome in Christ’s resurrection.

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The most recent Simpson’s episode was a bit of a political orgy (even more-so than usual!) and at one point in it, both Bart and Lisa are in church - the lyrics they’re singing are just “Praise, praise, praise, praise, praise …” after which they have a whispered conversation in the pew.
Lisa: “I’m surprised God wants this!”
Bart: “Yeah - it does make him seem just a bit thirsty.”

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Nietzsche is only partially right here. Yes - Jesus came for the sinners, the lost, etc. But he also didn’t turn away from Tabernacle leaders or centurions when they sought him out. I think it’s just that people in those higher, more powerful sorts of positions are less likely to find themselves in desperate enough straits that they were willing to seek him out. Rich rulers can still come to Jesus. They just have a much harder choice to make once they’re in conversation with him!

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I really like that last, bolded sentence you shared with us. Will have to check Horton’s book out!

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Don’t worry–doubt is part of faith. Even for Francis Collins. Christians call this doubt the “Dark Night of the Soul.” (Look it up.) I would stay away from too much anti-faith material, but a little bit is okay. After all, nobody has discredited the faith yet!

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