In all my travels, I have encountered many different people with many different beliefs. I was shown a site where animal sacrifices were performed to the gods, and the guide proudly told me that in the past they also offered sacrifices that were human. I’ve watched people present plates of food to statues, food that could have gone to their hungry children. I’ve seen a tree covered with colored strings representing the prayers of thousands. I’ve seen supposedly sacred monkeys, sacred cows, and cursed turtles.
I’ve smelled the incense and heard the gongs and felt the desolation of the millions who seek to get attention from a god or gods who have no compulsion to care, who must be bribed and appeased as motivation to answer prayers or help a suffering worshiper.
I also have dear friends who follow a religion which claims that if they miss one prayer time, they must suffer many years in hell, yet they do miss prayers, so do they truly believe? Or do they hope that it won’t really matter in the end, that whoever is in charge is not paying attention, or won’t really care?
If you read about religions, you will find gods and goddesses who are immoral, murderous, and drunk with greed. If you talk with people, you will hear of religions that require effort, works, money and other sacrifices to attain answered prayer, mercy, or eternal life. Or you may hear faith used as a genie of sorts, that if you have enough of it, you can get whatever you want.
On either side there is indulgence and self-absorbed greed. For some religions, it is the gods who are greedy. For others, it is the people.
All those people praying and giving and sacrificing did so because they needed something from God. Those of us who live with illness or loss or pain or disappointment can understand the desperation that can drive a person to tie prayers to a tree or bang a gong or give more, anything to try to get the problem fixed.
Yet the need goes much deeper than whatever current circumstance compels us to try to bargain with, bribe, or appease whoever or whatever has the power to give us what we ask for. The need is a desperation for God Himself. This need will not be fulfilled by anything less than God. We would not be content if the immediate was answered, if we were suddenly healthy or rich or free from pain. We would feel a happiness for a time, until some new form of suffering or loss came, at which time we would start the process of trying to get divine attention again.
No, our need goes beyond the current, beyond the physical, beyond this life. We need a truth to live on, one to base ourselves and our thoughts and actions on. This need causes some to create their own set of beliefs that cater to their personalities and goals. Others follow the beliefs of someone they respect or fear, conforming themselves to it.
No matter what you believe, however, there is truth and there is untruth. You can have immense faith in a medication, but if it is the wrong medication for your illness, it will not cure you and could instead harm or even destroy your body. Faith itself is useless and even destructive if it is put into what is not true.
May I please present to you what I believe is truth? I am so convinced this is true, I have staked my life and all my eternity on it. And it is good news!
Here is the truth: God is love. He is not immoral or greedy or lustful. He is just and loves righteousness. This fact, the fact that God is good, gives me cause to worship Him forever. He does not toy with my soul or my pain. He is not selfishly playing with us humans or withholding Himself from us.
God created everything. He created you. He knows your name; He knew all about you before you were even born. He knows where you are, what you are doing, and even how many hairs are on your head. (And considering that we lose about one hundred hairs per day, it means He is keeping track of you at every moment, knowing you and what is happening to you even more intimately than you know yourself.)
I know this is so because God is my loving Father. He has taken me in as His own child and is with me always. He helps me through the day, giving me strength for my weakness and hope when I despair. He gives light for the darkness, and peace in times when peace is impossible. He gives me joy.
I want you to know Him, too. I learned about this God from His Holy Word, the Bible. I know what God is like because He sent His Chosen One, the Messiah, into this world to pay the cost for my sin and yours. He lived and died perfect, and his death saved me from a life without purpose and eternity without God. This Messiah is Jesus, and He is my Savior. I came to Him a helpless person full of sin and He washed me clean and gave me a new life.
Without Jesus, I would not make it. I would not be able to bear up under the weight of living with disease. I would not be able to withstand the burden of life not being the way it should be. With Him, I have joy and love and peace accessible to me at all times. This joy gives me strength. I know this life isn’t all there is, and I have so much to look forward to!
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). There is no other way. If you have a longing deep in your soul to know the peace of having a heavenly Father who knows you and cares about you, would you seek Him? God promises that if you seek Him you will find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart (Jer. 29:13), and He is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27).
For me, He is in my heart and my soul, and I want you to have that, too. Knowing God changes everything. I don’t have to plead or bargain or beg when I have a need (Heb. 4:16). I can walk boldly right into the throne-room of the King of kings! He listens to me and cares for me, and even when He says no to a request, I know it is for good and can trust Him to do what is best.
I cannot imagine living without Him, without hope, and I don’t want you to have to. Please, if you do not know God, or if you are not right with God, or if you’ve always had the idea that God is far away or doesn’t care about you, please seek Him. Read His Word, the Bible (you may want to start with the book of Genesis and then John), and find out the truth. It really will set you free.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13