Believe your way back to peace
July 14, 2019
Recently, after missing a shuttle that should have taken me to the train station, I took a car ride home from a concert venue. The driver and I immediately struck up a lively conversation about music. He joked about how much women “looove” the musician whose concert I had just attended and began to tell me about his newfound interest in indie rock. As we spoke, he struck me as deeply thoughtful and searching. It was not long before indie rock gave way to a deeper topic: faith and life. Out of the blue, he began to tell me about how he relied on horoscopes for insights into his life and future. I listened. He shared how he had once been a committed Christian, but had given up on the faith after living for far too long in the wide gap between his beliefs and his reality. He also told me he had been through one tough break after another and that he simply got to the point where he just no longer believed what he had learned about God and his presence in the lives of his people.
As he spoke, I wondered what his expectations had been. What had he wanted from God? What had God not delivered? What had his expectations been rooted in? Did he, like many Christians, have an unbalanced understanding of what it means to “have faith” or to “live by faith?” Was he simply learning a hard lesson about faith. I wanted to ask, but I hesitated. I hesitated because I knew his struggle all too well and I did not want to give him the kind of cheap answer that aggravated me when I was in his shoes. I finally broke the thick silence that had filled the car by rather awkwardly telling him I understood, and that he was not alone in the world. His somber response was, “but how do I know God is with me if he does not come through for me?” Despite his obvious philosophical bent, I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was not looking for a philosophical answer in that moment, and I also knew I could not resolve the deep pain and confusion behind the question—before me was a broken-hearted child of God, driving a stranger in the middle of the night, asking where his Father was.
I then told him that ultimately God’s existence and presence in our lives is something we can only know by faith. Faith, after all, begins with believing in a God who is unseen (Heb. 11:6). The answers he was looking for—about why things had not worked the way he had hoped—would only be found through faith and by running to God not from him. In other words, he had to believe his way back to the peace he desperately needed. He did not sound persuaded.
When we arrived, we shook hands, I wished him well, and he reminded me to check out one of his favorite indie rock bands. About twenty minutes later, I received a message from him that said, “thank you.”