Why would I doubt Jesus?
The problem: Afterward, I of course asked myself continually how this happened and how I went so wrong. I had and still have a lot of questions with no answers. During my illness I felt - physically, emotionally and spiritually - things that were patently false. Therefore afterward, I wasn't sure how I could ever trust my senses to know what was truly real anymore, and perhaps everything I had ever known or felt was false. Because of this concern, I began to be afraid that God was fake.
Why I didn't stop believing
Belief: I didn't stop believing in God because the facts that I've seen and learned point toward His existence. Thanks to His goodness, the Lord prepared a good foundation for me before this problem ever happened. Here are a few things that came to mind, off the top of my head, that kept me from really believing God to be fake.
- The historical accuracy of Scripture. Over and over again, historical researchers have found Scripture to refer accurately to the places and people it speaks about.
- Scripture is more well-preserved than any other historical document. Most historical documents only exist in less than ten copies. Some in only one or two. But there are thousands of copies of Scriptures, some of them very old. Most differ by only a few words, rather than whole paragraphs. It's remained largely unchanged. No other historical document can claim this accuracy.
- Scripture is authoritative. It claims to be the Lord's Word.
- The original apostles died, not for something they believed, but for being eyewitnesses to Jesus' life, death, resurrection and miracles - things that their accusers also knew about. This same thing cannot be said for other religions.
- Scripture changes people's lives. I've seen this happen, I've heard of it from others and I've read about it both past and present.
- While nature is subject to a very cruel order of kill or be killed, the natural world is also beautifully designed so intricately and in incredible detail. I cannot believe that that happened by chance.
- Jesus is the only Person who did not claim that salvation came by works, but by belief in Him as God's Son and trusting in His death as the substitute for one's sins. It's God's grace alone that saves us. All other religions are based upon works and there is no way to be sure when one has done enough to be saved.
- As some authors have pointed out, Jesus could not have been merely a good teacher / philosopher. His claims make Him either blatantly evil, insane, or what He claimed to be - God. If you investigate the options and facts, they all point to the latter.
Conclusion: There are other and better reasons. But these are always the ones that occur to me first. Many of these points are discussed in much more detail in Strobel's book The Case for Christ, and in C.S. Lewis's works (a former atheist), such as The Problem of Pain, if you are interested. There are also plenty of questions - and atheists, relativists, deists and others make valid points. However, I do believe there are answers to these questions they and I both raise. For, with these and other facts I know, I cannot deny what I know to be true, even with the questions. If these things are true, then Jesus really is God. And what He said is therefore also valid.
What really settled it for me, just yesterday
Fearing for myself: It made me scared that I was open and unprotected and could be attacked again at any time and go crazy, like what happened when I was hallucinating. For, I don't know exactly how or what happened, but the things I felt, believed and heard during that time were SO obviously of evil that I can only attribute them to the Enemy. I don't know how involved any enemy were. But there was a serious spiritual element that was not of God. You'll just have to take my word for it. I don't want anyone to know, not even John.
Realization about my fears: It suddenly occurred to me that while I had been doubting God's existence this whole time, I never doubted the existence of the Enemy. My thoughts had been going something like this ... "How can I ever trust myself? What if everything I've experienced wasn't real?"
Voice in my head (for months): God isn't real. He's never been there. You've been deluding yourself your whole life. Plenty of people believe lies their whole lives and never know it. What if you are one of them? How can you ever really know if anything is true? God won't come for you. He won't save you. You certainly don't deserve it. Just give it up already. God, like Karl Marx said, is an opiate for the masses. Belief in Him, like Santa Claus, just makes people's miserable lives seem brighter (Nietzsche). It's a nice lie. Believe it if you want, but you know it's not really true. The Enemy is real. There's nothing to protect you. God isn't really there to save you from him. If He does exist, then why did He let you go through all that evil delirium? Why does He let bad things happen and good people die and suffer? If He cared and if He was really there, He would have protected you.
Firstly, these questions are real issues.
- How can one really know what is true? I do not have a full answer for this - however - I think of it like mounting experimental evidence in science. An experiment in science doesn't prove anything. It merely suggests that something may be. When many, many other experiments also point in the same direction, scientists can say with a reasonably high degree of confidence that yes, that thing is likely true, even though - as often happens all the time - SOME experiments may point in the opposite direction or suggest other things. However, the case for them is not as great. The greater evidence lies with the many experiments that all point toward the one thing. Even so, scientists are always ready to revise their opinion upon new data. // This is like the case with God. If one looks at any one fact about why He might exist, it's insubstantial. But, when many, many minor facts all point in the same direction, it can no longer be ignored, even if there are other questions and small facts that seem to point in the opposite direction. The weight of the evidence lies with God. Other better men than I discuss this kind of topic in depth and address the questions of modern philosophy, for example, Josh McDowell's The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
- Why does God allow bad things to happen to His followers, or even, to anyone? I don't know. I'm not sure I ever will. Mother Teresa apparently wondered this too. There's one partial answer, in that God allows people free will, but it doesn't explain everything. C.S. Lewis addresses this question in his book, The Problem of Pain, and does a far better job of it than I could. I intend on reading it again soon.
What I noticed - these thoughts are a trick: I know I am not the only one that wrestles or has wrestled with these questions. But while remembering these last night and being afraid, I found it odd that at the same time I'd been doubting God's existence, I never really doubted that the enemy was real, as I said above. Sometimes I did, but I was still very much afraid of him.
It was kind of like "You can't trust yourself. God is fake. The enemy is going to stomp on you," kind of logic. And I would say, "But the facts!" And the voice would say, "Nah." It was facts against vague doubt. But the vague doubt always seemed to me to have the upper hand. Something like... "Maybe God exists, but you can't trust yourself to ever be able to tell what is God and what is not, so it doesn't matter even if it's true. And it's probably not. You could become crazy again."
The Trick: And then I realized, that such thoughts are another kind of trick, which I didn't notice before. "Be afraid! God doesn't exist! But meanwhile the enemy does." What the heck? If the enemy exists, then so does God. Bad move, enemy. I just noticed you. It made me realize more clearly for some reason, that the enemy was behind my doubts. Not like he was physically fighting me, but it is a spiritual warfare kind of thing. He tries to destroy (1 Peter 5:6-10; John 10:7-11). I knew this before, but it suddenly seemed a lot more valid and clear.
The Lord is able to grant discernment
One thing I know that went wrong
Conclusions: I believe in Jesus still, and one day He may restore me
So, I don't have answers to all the questions out there. But I believe that He is, because of the evidence. Once one has the facts, one has to make a decision. No one can force anyone to believe something. But I've decided to keep believing. And I still do see the Lord in the things around me, little hints and glimpses of His Presence. I feel the most blessed person in the world to be in my dream job that I love so passionately - a perfect lab, with amazing labmates, classmates and boss. I have everything I ever wanted. I get to enjoy science every day and research, seeing the amazing things He's built... it's like I live in Candy Land for real. One day, perhaps He will restore me. And I pray very much, that by His unlimited grace, He will restore what was damaged and the evil that I caused while I was so out of touch with reality.