How Do We Come To Believe If We Don’t Believe? Part 2

Continued from How Do We Come To Believe If We Don’t Believe? Part 1

“…then alcohol began to have its way with us. Finally, when all our scorecards read ‘zero,’ and we say that one more strike would put us out of the game forever, we had to look for our lost faith. It was in AA that we rediscovered it. And so can you” (AA Twelve and Twelve 29).

Those Who Believe But Have No Faith

Some of us profess belief, but we can’t say we have much faith to speak of. Maybe we’ve been Christians since we were in kindergarten, maybe we show up at church every Sunday, but we still question. We know God exists but we have a hard time believing He could do much for us and this addiction problem.

Having Humility & Coming To Believe In God-Christian Drug RehabWe have to examine ourselves to see if there may be some bias operating. Have we really tried faith? Have we sought to know God and have a relationship with Him? Are we allowing ourselves to see His work and experience His leading? Though we may believe God exists, our faith may be weak because we haven’t sincerely attempted to know and relate to God.

Some of us live in shame, believing God is angry or disappointed in us. We know He exists but we’d rather He didn’t. Aside from steeping us in guilt and driving us away from the God who can save us, this belief denies God’s true identity as a God of love and grace for sinners.

Faith grows when we know God’s true character.

Those Who Have Faith But Aren’t Seeing Results

Many of us believe, and we believe we have faith, but the addiction problem has continued. We pray and plead, but our lives aren’t showing fruit. In this case, AA offers another explanation:

“The answer has to do with the quality of faith rather than its quantity. This has been our blind spot. We supposed we had humility when really we hadn’t. We supposed we had been serious about religious practices when, upon honest appraisal, we found we had only been superficial. Or, going to the other extreme, we had wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious feeling. In both cases, we had been asking something for nothing. The fact was we really hadn’t cleaned house so that the grace of God could enter us and expel the obsession. In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other human being without any demand for reward. We had not even prayed rightly. We had always said, “Grant me my wishes,” instead of Thy will be done. We remained self-deceived, and so incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity” (AA Twelve and Twelve, 32).

Know God, Know Yourself

Our first problem, in any of these categories, is usually an inaccurate picture of God. Once we get sober, our minds start to clear and we can begin untangling the mess. Many of us have refused to believe in God because we were wronged by people in the church or because we are angry over how our lives have turned out. We have failed to acknowledge that Christians, though they profess to follow God, are indeed sinners and, in the end, not God. If we have resentments against specific people, we now have the tools to look at that.

We must also remember that God is our Creator and He is the Almighty, but He is not a divine Santa Claus. The Bible does not promise us a life of ease, nor are we guaranteed that we’ll always get our way. God is good and His promises endure. He gives grace, protection and care without measure. But we have free will, and we have to take responsibility for the fact that many times we have intentionally exercised it to our own destruction.

The Need For Humility

Growing in faith is directly tied to growing in humility, which is why the 12 steps are often called a program of ego reduction. As newly recovering addicts, we see our own need for grace and we see how God bestows it. Knowing that His many kindnesses to us are undeserved, we approach Him in a new light. Instead of grumbling, we are filled with gratitude.

We also have to admit that we simply don’t know everything. We can be very intelligent and yet still unable to understand and explain many things about ourselves and the world. God’s ways are above ours. He dwells in mystery. Our attitude may change when we embrace that.

As we seek to grow in faith or to experiment with it for the first time, we can ask what God’s will is. Then we must be ready to listen. We can stop talking and telling and demanding. God is the Almighty, not our personal assistant, and though He loves His children and answers many prayers, He will not be ordered around. The fact that He does not bend to our many demands does not make him any less God, but more.

Most of the process of coming to God and being restored to faith is Him pursuing us rather than us pursuing Him. More than any work we have to do, or any specific actions, what’s needed is a truly open mind, a willingness to release outcomes and a commitment to relinquishing of the control. Let go and let God.

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