Are we just fooling ourselves about God?

I recently received a question from someone struggling with doubt.  The respondent wondered if they could be wrong about everything, if perhaps God were not the one described in scripture and had contrived to trick us all.

My response is below:

I can completely sympathize with your situation.  I was an atheist through most of college and committed my life to Christ after 3 years of school.  I remember well how surreal it all felt.  I often lapsed into doubt, albeit of a different form.  I would ask myself, “What if I’m fooling myself and this is all made up?”

I was greatly helped through doubt by reminding myself that, no matter how I felt, things that being to exist still have a cause.  No matter what I may feel, the explanation that God raised Jesus from the dead is still the best explanation of the available historical evidence.  I would encourage you to take a similar approach.  Read through On Guard by Dr. Craig if you haven’t already, and recall to mind the evidence for your faith when you have feelings of doubt.  Even if it feels surreal sometimes, ask yourself, “Do I have any reason to think that God has deceived me?”  If you don’t have any reason to think that he has, then you have no reason to consider it seriously.

In my experience, this will just be to tide you over.  You will still have these surreal feelings for a while.  Remember that God is greater than your feelings.  There is something about knowing intellectually that the claims of Christianity are true and something else about feeling that it is so.    It has not been intellectual understanding, but the experience of God in my life that has made it feel real to me.  I have had numerous times in my life when I have been brought low and had to cry out to God.  It is in those moments when I see him move that the intellectual transfers to the emotional.  I had known it was real, but in those moments I felt that it was real.

You are young yet in the faith, and may not have had many of these life events.  You are not without options for experiencing God, however.  I strongly recommend that you attend to the Christian disciplines.  These include daily devotional time (including prayer, reading scripture, and singing praise).  Get involved in a Christian community through your local church or through a campus group at your school.  Our personal formation is often influenced by those we spend time with, so be intentional about what sort of influences you include in your life.

I am encouraged by your e-mail, Jahvel, as you seem to be someone who wants to know and follow God.  Keep running the race and pray for endurance!

Sincerely,

Matt Bilyeu


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