After a few weeks, a lot of pouting and feeling sorry for myself, a few tantrums and some bad language I have climbed out of the pit. If I were to ever write a how-to-guidebook on how to get out of a faith pit, here are a few things I would include:
1. Getting out of the pit of doubt and disappointment with God by hoping and wishing you were out accomplishes nothing. God will allow you out to get of the pit when He’s good and ready (yes, very annoying).
2. Knowing other people are in the pit with you and/or have visited the pit at one time or another will make you feel better (but only for about two minutes).
3. Being an everyday, run of the mill heathen is really not that bad (until your kids are rebellious, you are faced with tragedy or something else bad happens and you have the urge to pray (to the same God you are really mad at)).
4. Being an everyday, run of the mill heathen is pretty rotten when you don’t have any hope/faith that the crappy things in life might serve a bigger/better purpose or might turn out to be okay.
5. The only way to ascend out the pit of anger and irritation with your sad and depressing faith is to read the Manual (a.k.a., the Bible). This option is never appealing when you are in the pit but since it is the only way out, you will inevitably read it and you will in turn be forced to decide whether or not you really, really believe it.
The bottom line for me getting out of the pit came down to two things. The first can be summarized in my blog, “You Got Something Better?” Without God there is no hope and life is hard enough even with hope. The second thing is summed up in this quote from Renee Swope: “Doubt and hope cannot live together.” I want hope, but at the end of the day if I doubt God’s Word or parts of it and I’m not sure if I even believe at the core of who I am the truths contained in it, then I really don’t have any hope. How can I have hope if I doubtwhether I believe God, who He is and what His Word says? Can I put my hope in a Book that tells us about God and Jesus if I doubt the authors, credibility, etc. (my friend who is gay had a good question; why do I have to believe/listen to what Paul and others said if Jesus didn’t say it? 2 Peter 1:19-21 helped me with this after much contemplation). And in my quest to find hope and overcome doubt, I had to really READ the manual. Not go through the motions of reading it, but read it to find real answers to real problems (not read it for five minutes in the morning and then not think about or apply what I read the rest of the day).
“Dear God, thank you for all you taught me in the pit. Thank you that it was less awful this time and that I got the lesson faster this time around. Thank you for giving me an awareness of how good I am at riding the fence; taking what I like from your Word but ignoring the rest. Thank you for helping me CHOOSE to believe the truths in the Bible more wholeheartedly because I can’t have it both ways. I can’t believe parts of it when I like what is says or deem it true, good or helpful. I can’t have genuine and meaningful hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5) if I don’t know, that I know, that I know that I am going to CHOOSE to trust your Word. Thanks for the golf cart ride out of the pit but most of all thank you for the Manual. Help me hunger for it today as much as I did when I was at the bottom. In Your Name, Amen.”