Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Struggling with God

Sometimes in order to communicate simply and directly, we come across as trite and superficial to those who have genuine difficulties believing the Faith. However, we ALL struggle some of the time in our relationship with God, and the challenges to faith need to be faced with honesty. Bishop John Kallos, a retired bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, writes:

[St Paul] was an intellectual who displayed great zeal, enthusiasm and courage in the fulfillment of his religious convictions. So much so, that prior to his conversion, he looked upon Christianity as a vile imposture, and set out to persecute those who had espoused the new religion. The irony of it all lies in the fact that in his personal struggle for communion with God, he was one of the main instruments of his time in the extermination of the new creed. His soul thirst for what his body sought to destroy. Unconsciously, he was rebelling against the God whom he sought and longed to engage in a dialogue. And finally, that dialogue took place most dramatically. Paul, not being content in persecuting the Christians of Palestine, obtained a commission to go to Damascus to seek out there the professed Christians and bring them back to Palestine to be tried and condemned. It is on his journey to Damascus that our Lord Jesus Christ miraculously revealed Himself to Paul. Thereby, Paul’s struggle and search had come to an end having at last found that which he struggled to possess and yet at the same time sought to destroy.

This quest for communion with God, characteristic of man of every age, is eloquently expressed by Job in these words, “Oh that I knew where I might find him,” or by the 42nd Psalm “My soul thirsts for God.” The most effective means at man’s disposal in engaging in a dialogue with God is prayer. The individual struggle with God lies n the failure of man to engage in conversation with God. In prayer, one does not talk to God, but rather talks with God. Too many of us tend to monopolize the conversation and fail to listen. In one’s conversation with God, doubt is not always excluded. Thus, we should repeat these words, “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24. True, the problem of personal faith is a critical one for many of us. The individual in his struggle with encountering God may find the arguments of old of little help to him today. He need not despair, however, for like others of our times, he, too, may experience a personal encounter with God and thereupon Christian faith will become a living aspect of his life, for the whole man is seen and can only be seen in his relationship to God — with respect to both his origin and his destiny.

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