I’ve been thinking about this issue lately, and I just can’t seem to find an answer to it.
A little background: I’ve recently been in a loong period of doubt in God. It seems like everytime I pray for the doubt to go away, it just gets a stronger. It’s a weird place I’m in right now. So many questions are popping into my head, but I think this is one of the more profound ones.
Why does God want us to have faith? If God wanted us to join him in Heaven, why would he give us the opportunity to reject him. (I know the standard answer is going to be free will.)
For example: Adam and Eve definitely knew that God existed as they conversed with him. Why in our modern day and age, have to have faith to know God? It’s just a question that troubles my mind.
The discovery of the true self in God is obscurely revealed to us in faith through selfless service to others and in the inner desert of wordless prayer.
The false self stands between the true self and God…it constructs its own dark universe of disorientated nothingness which it claims as its prized creation and crowning glory…We run and run in our squirrel cage, thinking the constant squeaking of the wheel of our achievements is a verification of our reality and worth.
The spiritual life is a journey in which we discover ourselves in discovering God, and discover God in discovering our true self hidden in God. I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except in Him.
There’s only one reason, which has been referred to here in this thread: communion. Adam “walked” with God: man is not meant to live out of communion with God; justice, order, harmony are disrupted as this occurs. But Adam broke that relationship: by his act of disobedience he denied God’s authority, he effectively rejected God as his God. The Catechism teaches that man “let his trust in his Creator die in his heart” at that point. Without God we have no groundedness; we don’t know where we came from, if anywhere, what we’re here for, if anything, and where we’re going, if anywhere. IOW, we’re lost, rudderless, flaying around in a sea of uncertainty even as we go through the motions of living life more or less as everyone else around us does.
Faith isn’t some magical means to righteousness if we just believe firmly enough: a cheap ticket into heaven, or simply a way to assuage our guilt. Rather faith is the means to authentic communion with God, it’s to believe in His existence, His goodness, trustworthiness, and love for man; it’s a gift, of believing in Him, so His Spirit may reign within us and He can then mold us into the beings He created us to be. “Apart from Me you can do nothing” Jesus tells us in John 15:5. But with God, as we come to* know* Him as per the New Covenant prophesy in Jer 31:34, He will place His law in our minds and write it on our hearts (Jer 31:33). “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26
It all begins, on our part, with faith, as a response to grace, a response which God doesn’t force us to make; our wills, our cooperation, are always involved. Faith, as the Council of Trent tells us,“is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification”.
One has to take into account the aforementioned state that one is in when they try to discern such notions…isn’t it written that we should not lean on our own understanding, but on the grace of GOD through his son lord JESUS?
Do we strive to understand on our own merits or are we attempting to understand when the enemy that seeks to devour is roaring around us like a lion?
If we are to assume such notions that “why do we”, then why do we assume anything; after all in principle how are we to strive at all when all things are in principle a question of why, a question of understanding and if we are to seek understanding, then where do we assume to obtain it.
WITH THE TRUTH…that being JESUS CHRIST the son of GOD and through him; whom is the way, the truth and the life!
Again if you are seeking answers, aren’t you in principle seeking the truth, and again…where is** the truth**?
Praise be to GOD the heavenly father and his son lord JESUS CHRIST forever>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
When periods of dryness and when the evil one tries to pull me away from Jesus I remember this Quote by Saint Therese of Lisieux, " Trails help us greatly to detach us from earth, they make us look to God, rather than the World". Another thought is "When we are weakest in spirit is when we are strongest in Jesus. Without him nothing is possible. Our weakness reminds us how much we need him.
Everyone goes through times of spiritual dryness, times where they don’t feel God’s presence. Mother Teresa went through a period like this for many years but she still kept her faith.
God gives us the opportunity to reject Him because He loves us. It is not loving to force someone to go to heaven against their will. It is also not loving to “reincarnate” people, to make them keep living over and over until they choose Him. Heaven must freely be chosen.
We are not robots.
If God forced his glory on us how could we not choose him?
But would that be really choosing him for himself or for his rewards?
I don’t know about you, but I believe true friendship is more subtle and polite than that.
We always give our friends opportunities to say no to our requests without embarassment and shame or feeling hustled.
The price of such gentleness is a certain lack of clarity.
But those who truly love will endure and deepen their understanding - and so strengthen their insight and faith.
Human friendship is not handed out on a plate - why should we expect God to be such a walkover and so cheap as you suggest?
Except if we decline our friend’s request or somehow miss the invitation, our friends wont sentence us to burn in eternal hellfire.
And i think the OP posed a great question, if Adam and Eve didnt need faith and God didnt requore it, why did that change all of a sudden if God is unchanging? Surely after the fall with our weakened sense for identifying God, didnt seem to stop God from revealing Himself to Cain and Abel, Abraham, or Moses among others. Why cant He do the same us? Surely after knowing of His existenxe, we still have free will in deciding if we want to follow His ways, so Him revealing Himself wouldn’t interfere with our free will.
**“Faith” is one of those blurry words. **Like democracy, socialism, love, even “God!” Many Christians and most atheists misconstrue “faith” to mean “believe in something for which there is no evidence.” Others take the word to mean “a belief, as in a particular religion or theology or philosophy or political program.”
I recently began reading “Spe Salvi”/“Saved in Hope,” Encyclical Letter of Benedict XVI, in which I once again came across an attempt to address “faith.” To give a too-brief summary, we have to have faith in something - belief that something will have the positive effect we want it to have. Some people have faith in religion or God; others put their faith in science. Those who put faith in God, religion, the spiritual realms, are the ones with the most freedom. "“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36). Benedict XVI observes that those who put their faith in science as the be-all and cure-all of the world’s woes, naturally drift into the camp that puts their faith in politics - that government is the be-all and cure-all of the world’s woes and the inevitable creator of some future paradise on earth. There are problems. That is part of the nature of finite, incomplete, segregated, physical, limited mortality. For solutions to the many difficulties, problems, and disasters that we face as human beings, we look for . . . something. The thing we choose and expect to provide the best solutions are what we have faith in. It is not that those things have proven they can solve all problems; but that we have faith they can and will solve them. If we don’t have faith, we have despair: “There is no solution. There is no hope of a solution. There is no hope.”
I appreciated your observations here. One of my favorite lines of Benedict’s from Spe Salvi is quite simple but very profound IMO: "Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope".
Why do you think the Catholic Church teaches that He would?
The problem is perhaps your definition of “friend”.
A point comes when our habitual missing of the unforced invitations implies culpability and by definition means we are not friends. e.g. “insofar as you did not do these things to … you did not do them to me.”
I believe the answer is Love. If you love something/one, you do not want that object to be compelled to love you back. God could easily create everyone to be good that love him back. But that would be like creating a robot that has no choice. I am sure he prefers everyone to be with him in heaven, but that would be by choice and not by “no other choice”.
Here is where faith comes in. If God appears right in front of you, with all the miraculous power etc, you have no choice but to be compelled to believe in God’s existence. So he remains nearby/close but far enough not to make himself obvious but close enough that when you seek him, he could be found. But after you have found him, can you keep his commandments, follow his teachings?
Adam and Eve though they believe in God they could still be tempted to disobey him. Even today, even if one strongly believes in God, may still succumb to temptations as we are sinful in nature. Here, we need God’s grace to defeat temptation. He has given us several sacraments to help us on our journey. You see in the OT many prophets though having direct communication with God still sinned pretty badly.
I think others have provided good answers here. I also think this is why so many people like the book of Job! I don’t think I can give you the concrete answer you want, but I can share just a bit of my own experience, for what it’s worth. Frankly, I’m still trying to make sense of it years after the fact.
It is painful to be in a position where God feels far away, and I am seeking Him. Parts of what you say sound similar to what I went through. (I think it was the beginning of my spiritual journey into “adulthood”, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this kind of occurrence is common.) I became acutely aware of the reality of hell, felt that’s where I was going, and that I had nowhere to turn. I was in a place of desolation and unbelievable anxiety, knowing my choices could land me there, or in other words, that I could say no to God.
There was no easy way through it, and no silver bullet. I prayed like I had never prayed before, but felt no comfort. I offered up my days to God, and tried to be obedient. And honestly, I can’t tell when I started to come out of it. But during the course of this period, God graced me with the knowledge that two very specific intentions of mine had been answered.
God speaks to each person intimately and in a completely unique way, because we are each unique. My mom also gave me great advice, though she didn’t know the inner turmoil I was going through. When we don’t understand something about God, it is simply His invitation to draw us closer.
Sorry if all this is too mushy or preachy. I just wanted to state that to be in your situation can be very painful, because you often see no light at the end of the tunnel. But, maybe it would help to know that Jesus went through his agony in the garden too! Hang fast.