If faith is as simple as having confidence in God, then it’s fair to say that my confidence has been shaken. In other words, my faith has been strained. I’d like to change that, but I’m afraid it will require working through numerous issues from the past as well as a few from the present.

For me, it comes down to some of the finer points of faith. Can I really trust God with everything? What about my personal well-being? My financial well-being? Health or money? The answer is no because these things fail. It seems the only expectation a Christian should have is assurance in salvation, which is a painful lesson.

My mistake may have been a belief that the gifts of God would include purpose and, perhaps, meaning. Both of these things may very well be gifts from God, but I’ve found that purpose is often separate and apart from one’s ambition, and the derivation of meaning is usually less than comfortable.

Of course, this is the natural course of the Christian journey. We are to discover that our ways are outside the Way of God and allow our course to be corrected. My problem has been letting go of what I believe to be my real purpose or, more specifically, the idea that it should bear fruit.

The frustration comes along in the fact that I believe I might have been okay with a different purpose as long as it was given meaning and was consequential. Perhaps that’s wrong. It’s altogether possible that I was born to do one thing and that it should produce only suffering. Thus, the breakdown of confidence. I don’t believe our purpose is suffering.

Nor do I believe that a gift from God (or talent, if you will) should inflict pain. It can involve struggle and strain because it will involve work, but it should not result in wholly unfavorable outcomes. If that were the case, then the gift was not a gift but a curse.

God’s gifts are good. Are they not?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:7-11

I’m not entirely sure that the “good things” Jesus is referring to here isn’t salvation, despite the fact the word “things” is plural. After all, it is the one true hope of the faith. In that case, I might feel better if I could even begin to conceptualize or envision what exactly salvation entails.

photo: Zac Durant