Q & R: Doubting God in Netherlands

A reader writes …

My name is YYY and I hope you can give me a little bit of advice about my quest for God. I believed in God since I was a little kid (my parents were agnostics/atheists) but I went to a Christian School. But since a few years a go I have had doubts about God. First it was about the fact if Jesus had lived, then it was about the Bible and then it became so strong that I doubted the fact if God exists at all. In your book “Finding faith” it is said that doubt isn’t bad at all (if it’s not against but with God). But my doubts are so strong now, that I see myself more as an agnostic than a believer. And that’s not what I want. It’s egocentric to say (although I think that for more people this is a strong motive for beginning/restarting to believe in God) but I don’t want to feel the anxiety and depressed feelings I have felt lately. The idea of no God or no afterlife makes me very sad, panicked and anxious. I don’t think that’s a good motive for wanting to believe, but I’m desperate and I don’t know what else to try. Although this seems not to work out as I want to.


When I started to read your book, I didn’t have this anxious and depressed feelings (it was a few months ago and I just want to strengthen my faith). But lately I have those feelings and I wanted to find a relieve, a sign of proof about God in your book. By then I didn’t only use it for strengthen my faith, but also for finding proof about the existence of God. But ofcourse I couldn’t find it in the book, and I think that’s not the purpose of your book.
Because I think it’s a good book and I think it can work very well for people who are not in the same fase as me (with those strong ‘negative’ feelings), I would like to get some advice from you how I can get in the fase where I’m ready to go on a spiritual quest, and by that ready to use your book well.
I’m not sure if you’re the right person to ask it to and I’m aware of the fact that my question is very broad and not very well defined (but that’s probably because I personally don’t know what to do). So if you’re not, you can tell me and I’ll try to look for other resources. But if you are, I would thank you very much in advance for your advice. I hope I did make myself so clear as possible and I hope you understand my situation, although it’s written in “clumsy” English.

Thanks so much for writing. Your English is fantastic – especially in comparison to my Dutch!
My honest feeling as I read and re-read your note is that I wish you were my neighbor so that we could sit down and have a cup of coffee and get to know each other better. My sense is that what you need isn’t simply intellectual evidence for God’s existence, but more – a community of people who live in connection with God and who welcome people like you, believers, skeptics, and everyone in between. I’m going to send you a link offline that might help you find that kind of community.
But let me offer a few general comments here.
1. I’d encourage you to keep praying – simply saying, “God, I’m not sure you exist. I think you don’t exist. But if you do, please help me to experience you, seek you, find you.”
2. I’d encourage you to start simple – as I tried to do in Finding Faith. (By the way, here in the US it is now two short books – the first one directed toward intellectual questions and the second directed toward more personal issues.) Start by weighing the no-God versus God question … or perhaps, even before that, the “do I want to seek for God or not” question.
3. As I said, what is probably most important is to find some safe people – people who won’t jump on you for having questions and being honest.
In the meantime, stay tuned for an email with a link to a faith community near you, and know that I (and probably many readers of this blog) empathize with you and will hold you in our prayers.