A 2018 Barna survey lists the most common reason for young adults to lose faith is that they “have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world.”
All of us have struggled with this sentiment. But, isn’t Growing Up about reaching the point where God’s presence is more important than him fixing all of our problems? Many of those people surveyed simply want God to fix their problems, and the world’s, rather than actually experiencing the presence of God. What God wants is to give us what we need and what we need can include answers to our prayers but also, and more importantly, himself.
If you could have God’s presence in your life but not have that one prayer answered would you take it? A sure sign of Growing Up is when I am okay with just God’s presence even if he doesn’t answer my deepest longing. This, I am working on.
If you know anything about the story of Job you know that he suffered much and kept asking to hear from God. When God shows up, things change for Job. He says, “I have heard about you, but now I’ve seen you.” In Dallas Willard’s words,”His vision of God was now so great that he realized what had happened to him didn’t matter. That is the deep faith of sufficiency.”
The difference for Job was that he stopped focusing on himself and instead, focused on God. As long as we are looking at only our own situation through our selfish lens we cannot see God.
Dallas Willard again:
“We cannot truly see ourselves until we see God, but as long as our eyes are fixed on ourselves, we cannot see God. We must focus on God if we are to know the sufficiency of God.”
Humans are not good at focusing on God over oneself. We usually have to have an extreme event in order to take our focus off of our own ability, potential, and will. God often lets us reach desperation so that the only place we could go is to him. The fact that many choose to reject God in these moments seems a great risk on God’s part but those, like Job, who come out on the other side with a great trust in God have a rich and abundant life and a relationship with God that is unshakable. God desires this relationship so much that he is willing to let us walk away from him or even to reject him. For us, we become okay with our circumstances, no matter what they are, because we have seen God and know his presence and that is enough.
Willard completes the thought, “Regardless, when you have nowhere else to turn except to God, and you turn to him, your faith of desperation will meet the fullness of God, and you will taste the life without lack as you discover the depths of the faith of sufficiency.”
You may still be largely focused on yourself and your circumstances and mad at God for not answering your prayers. I know, I have been there. That is understandable and okay and in some ways appropriate. But, when you Grow Up, that focus on your own circumstances becomes less intense and the presence and work of God becomes all that matters. God’s presence has a richness, a comfort, and a reality that touches our deepest need.
God longs to give us what we need and he knows what he is doing. Trust him for more than just the solution to your next “crisis” and see God in his fullness in your life.