Why does God let bad things happen? Why am I going through this? What does this mean for me? … Do these questions sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Although we can sometime feel guilty when we question God or doubt his love, it’s more than okay to ask these questions. In fact, it’s even good to ask these types of questions—as long as we bring these questions and struggles to God. The world is not as it was meant to be, and figuring out how to respond to everything that is broken in our lives and in the world is a big job that carries a lot of pain with it. The good news is, God doesn’t want us to have to deal with this pain on our own. He wants to help. He wants us to bring the hurt to him.
Theology of The Body reminds us that faith and life are not meant to be separate things. In fact, being a disciple of Christ begins with giving our body to Christ so that every part of us can serve him and learn to love others as he would have us love them. Truthfully, rather than making things simpler, living out our faith can make things seem more difficult at times because bringing our lives and relationships in line with God’s will is hard work. Doubts and struggles are not a sign of weak faith. They’re an invitation to deeper faith. As long as we keep bringing our doubts, struggles, and confusion to God–instead of letting them lead us away from him–the more God will use those struggles to draw us into closer union with his love and his will.
Do you want to learn more about balancing struggles and your faith?
Broken Gods—Hope, Healing, and The Seven Longings of The Human Heart
How do we bring our struggles to God? Keep the following tips in mind.
Be Where You’re At–We often think that we have to pretend with God; like we’re not allowed to admit that we have doubts, fears, or even anger with God. But Jesus reminded us that we are not meant to approach God as fearful slaves, but as friends. God desires our friendship, and friends are real with each other. They don’t pretend. They don’t put on airs. God wants to be with you wherever you are, so let him. Tell him your doubts, be honest about your fears, vent your anger. Trust that God is big enough to take whatever you have to dish out.
Why does God want you to be this honest and vulnerable with him? Because it is only by revealing your heart to God that he can heal the hurt. The best way to experience God’s mercy, love, and healing, is to simply be honest about where you are at and how you feel about him, your faith, and your life. Let it out and ask him to heal whatever is broken, to give you the wisdom to see things the way he sees them, and to respond to everything in a manner that will glorify him regardless of what you’re dealing with. If you can manage that much every day, God will take care of the rest.
Re-center Yourself–Because we tend to turn to our faith and spiritual practices as a source of comfort, we also tend to abandon them when we feel like we’re not getting the emotional payout we were hoping for. That’s especially true when we are experiencing faith-related struggles.
While it’s understandable to want to give up on God, our prayer life, or even our faith in times of spiritual dryness or pain, abandoning these things simply creates a vacuum that tends to be filled with unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that cause us even more pain. Instead of giving up, re-center your spiritual life with a few simple steps. First, re-examine your approach. If the way you are praying isn’t bearing fruit, try a different approach. If you usually talk to God, focus more on listening and meditation. If you usually use a more spontaneous approach, explore some of the more traditional prayers of the church—or vice-versa. Whatever you do, don’t quit–RECOMMIT!
Second, instead of focusing on your feelings and processing your faith through your emotions, process your feelings through your faith. Confess whatever you are feeling to God–no matter how ugly or messy it is–but ask him to help you sort out your emotions in light of what is really true, in light of what gives glory to him, and in light of his grace. Feelings are important but when they occupy the center of our lives instead of our faith and spiritual life, they tend to cause a lot of pain and confusion. Don’t deny your emotions, but make sure to process your feelings through your faith. You’ll be amazed at the peace this can bring.
Talk to A Spiritual Mentor--If you feel like your spiritual struggles are too much for you to manage on your own, reach out for good spiritual support. Talk with your pastor. Seek out a spiritual director or pastoral counselor who can help you reconnect with your spiritual resources. The Theology of the Body reminds of what God said in the Book of Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Don’t let the devil separate you from the heard and pick you off like a lonely gazelle. If you are struggling in your faith, reach out to the people God has put in place to help you. Don’t be too prideful to seek out a Simon of Cyrene to help you carry your cross.
If you would like to talk to a spiritual coach or pastoral counselor, visit us online at CatholicCounselors.com.