I have to admit I find it extremely frustrating when a religious person tells me how great their faith in God is when everything is going so well for them in their life. Is that really true faith? In my opinion, I believe one’s true faith in God is forged when everything seems to be falling apart in life and has been for a long period of time.
Throughout my spiritual journey, I’ve met a lot of people from many different religious backgrounds who seem to have plenty of faith in their Higher Power when life is going their way. Sometimes it even feels as if they like to congratulate themselves on their level of faith by believing they must be doing everything right with God because their life is going so smoothly. A good relationship, a good job, a good pay, a good family life, a good health, and a good set of material things MUST equal how GREAT God is and GREAT their faith in God is right? Yet, what happens to their faith when those good things suddenly begin to disappear from their life and they start suffering? And what happens when that suffering goes on and on and on for a long time? Sadly, many tend to lose their faith in God in times like that. They become negative, bitter and usually struggle to understand why God would let such bad things happen to them, especially when others seem to have it so much better.
You see, that’s my story. I was once someone who proclaimed how great God was and how great my faith in God was. It always came though during those periods of my life when things were going my way, when no one I loved was dying, when I was getting a great income, when I was taking nice vacations, when I was is in an awesome relationship, when I was affording nice things, and when I wasn’t ever thinking about my health at all because I was so active in life. My faith in God began to show its weakness though when my father committed suicide in 1996 and when my mother took her drunken fall down the stairs to her death in 2005. After making it through both of those difficult periods with a sliver of faith, it wasn’t until 2010 when I saw the true fragility of my faith.
It was in 2010 when I lost my business, then my financial fortune, then my health, then my ability to remain physically active in life, and then my capacity to work and earn any sort of income for myself. As each of these things disappeared and didn’t return, more and more of my “awesome faith” in God disappeared as well. As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years, I began to wonder why I still believed and sought God, when I had lost so much of those good things.
When my spiritual teacher left my active life in the spring of 2016 and told me I had to walk the next leg of my journey alone, I lost the last thing I had left in my life that was helping me to desperately cling to what little faith I still had left in God. And let me tell you, those first few months after that would test my faith beyond anything I’d ever experience before in life.
But here I am in February of 2019 still moving forward, still believing in God, and still keeping my faith, even when a sane person would probably have done otherwise by this point under the same suffering and conditions I’ve continued to endure. I honestly can’t say why I’ve been able to hold onto my faith in God, but I have, and I’m thankful I have, as it’s probably the only thing keeping me going these days. There are days though where I really question whether God exists and why I still believe in Him given the hell I’ve gone through and keep going through. Yet, if you want to know what my gut tells me about why I still have any sort of faith in God, it’s this.
Because I believe that true faith isn’t forged in life when you have everything going well for you. Rather, I think true faith is built during times of long suffering, as what eventually arises out of that is an understanding that life isn’t about having any of those good things whatsoever. Instead, what I’ve found in all this long suffering is that life is more about getting in touch with an unlimited well of unconditional love for myself and others, learning how to appreciate everyone and everything no matter what the circumstances, and being able to forgive, even when it hurts, all of which were things I never could quite grasp in any period of my life prior, where I thought I had such a great faith in God…when I actually didn’t…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson