"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" - Mark 9:24
So where does this leave us? I have no answers of certitude, no final thoughts except to say this:
It's okay to wrestle with God, doubt and faith. Pursue God. Push through the dark times. And don't let anyone make you feel like a "bad" Christian for struggling with issues of faith and doubt. It's normal... dare I even say healthy. Embrace the fact that doubt and faith aren't always mutually exclusive.
For myself, I choose to persevere, even in the face of doubt, even if there's "nothing in it for me" except to pursue God and to know Him better than I do now. I choose this because I believe there is a Purpose greater than myself that is worth sacrificing my own wants and needs for.
In the movie Shadowlands, C.S. Lewis' character says, "Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety; the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."
I think the same thing could be said of faith. I'm holding on to the idea that to risk walking forward in faith - even when doubts are looming over my head - will lead to beautiful new vistas of understanding, relationship and growth. Growing sometimes hurts. Grow anyway.