CatholicView receives many questions that have similar themes.  Here is a summary of  one that seems to include all the elements of human doubt in God’s Will in our lives that most of us experience at one time or another.  CatholicView wants to share the answer to this question with everyone who reads and studies this web site.



"After a lifetime of devotion and love for my Catholic religion, I am on the verge of losing my faith.  I have suffered from depression for decades and neither medication, counseling, nor my religion has been of any help to me in this perpetual darkness.  I have prayed ceaselessly, hoping for some sign that God will succeed where medicine has failed.  Now, as I enter the final phase of my life, I am forced to admit that this God really does not care.  As a father, I would do anything to help my children.  I cannot see why God, the Father can be anything less than a Father to His children.  I know it’s down to faith but we cannot live by faith alone.  The early Christians had faith and saw how God intervened directly in their lives, but that does not seem to happen today, especially when children suffer and die horribly from hunger and disease, their poor mothers crying out to God to help them in their agony but to no avail.

In the immediate “now,” I look for assistance but find nothing but cold silence.  I hate atheism but now the desperate thought comes to me that it might be right.  Forgive me, but at times I rail against God and ask Him if He cares whether I end my life in despair or continue to live with this gnawing doubt.

I meditate on Christ on the cross and say the rosary frequently, sometimes twice daily.  I look at the cross and marvel at a God who gives Himself up to be crucified.  It’s a wonderful thought.  But the people of God need His help now.  Atheists throw this in our faces – where is your God?  And I cannot tell them that from my own desperate experiences, He did nothing for me through my entire life.  Nothing I begged for through dark days and nights were ever answered.  I have come to Him and never have found the rest He promised.  I have tried to leave all in His Hands only to have to rely on my own."



You are so overwhelmed by the negative that you are losing faith and hope in life and yourself.  Your depression has taken your energy for life out of you.   You have battled your disease (clinical depression) for many decades yet you have not given up.  This shows that you are a strong person, a person ruled by hope even though you cannot see that hope through your pain.  For that, I am grateful for your fighting spirit!  You have overcome so much despite what life has thrown at you.  Keep going forward.  You are obviously stronger than you think.

Your struggle is shared by so many people in the world.  You are not alone.  Even scripture is filled with this kind of pain and sadness of what seems to be abandonment by God.  The psalmist wrote in Psalm 22 (Psalm 22: 1-3) which was quoted by Jesus on the cross:  My God, my God, why have You forsaken me, far from my prayer, from the words of my cry?  O my God, I cry out by day and You answer not; by night, there is no relief for me.”  Even Jesus gave voice to these human emotions as He gave His all on the cross for you and me (Matthew 27:46).

As for your particular situation, I must tell you honestly, I don’t have a quick and easy answer to your doubt in God and His plan for you.  I can give you all kinds of platitudes and nice little trite Christian sayings like “God is with you” and “that through faith in God, you can overcome anything.”  You have been told that and, to be honest with you, that is not an answer but it is easier to say such nice things than dealing with human situations that seem beyond our personal control.  Life is not easy, suffering is a reality, and there are no easy answers. 

So, let’s start with this:  Stop focusing on your depression.  I know this is going to be hard because that is what you have been doing every day and every minute for the last few decades, a habit that will be hard to break.  Because of the nature of depression and the brain chemical imbalance that it creates within you, you have an uphill struggle, a struggle that some others share with you.  Oddly, it is a vicious circle of sorts:  severe sadness changes the brain chemical balance that deepens powerlessness into depression which causes more sadness which causes more chemical imbalance in the brain.  You are not alone in your struggle even though your depression has isolated you from the world and even from family and friends.  You feel alone in this nightmare.  So, it is time to break the vicious circle of depression.

How does “faith” fit into all this?  Here are some things that I know to be truth.  There is a God.  There is a Creator who brought all life into existence.  You know this basic truth in your heart.  This same Creator has made you for a reason and purpose.  There are no accidents when it comes to life, just challenges and obstacles to overcome.  No one is immune from suffering and we all suffer because of the effects of sin, others and my own.  So, suffering is not God’s fault but the fault of other people’s actions, my own actions, and the “luck of the draw.”  That’s why I asked you not to focus on depression.  Instead, focus on creation, life, beautiful things, the so-called blessings that we have in life.  Life is meant to be lived to the full.  So, it is time to make a decision to get out of the habitual rut of seeing depressing things and get into a new life habit seeing the good things around us all.  Treat yourself to something joyful.  Get out of yourself, walk in your neighborhood and see the wonder of nature.  When I feel depressed and isolated, that’s what I do – get out!  I walk, smell the flowers (and take my allergy medications), see life in all its forms.  Then I am overwhelmed by God’s presence all around me.   Instead of focusing simply on sadness (and therefore, myself), I am reaching out.  Simply by doing this, I begin the healing process in my brain that will bring me peace.  

Notice I said “peace” and not happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, but peace is forever!  My peace of mind is what gives me stability, not happiness.  I seek peace.  I gain that peace through my trust and faith in God who knows what is going on.  And that is what our Catholic faith promises: peace.  Remember what Jesus said to His disciples when He met with them in the Upper Room after His death and resurrection (John 20:19-22):  Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”  

Here comes prayer…since prayer is a dialog between God and myself, and not some kind of “rubbing the genie in a bottle and getting a wish,” I want to dialog with the Creator.   That demands that I stop talking and take the time to listen. (I Kings 19:12-13) “After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound.  When Elijah heard this, he hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave” [to meet with God.] You mentioned that you pray the rosary often and marvel at the cross of the crucified Lord Jesus.  This is ONLY a start.  You must be silent.   You must rest in the presence of the Lord.   This is how I do it.  I close my eyes.  I breathe deeply and silence my words and my desires.  That’s the hard part.  My mind is racing all the time.  I too am filled with doubts, questions, wants, and desires.  I find myself talking to God as if He is Santa Claus.  That’s when I stop and say to myself, “Be silent, be at peace.  Shhhhh.  Peace.”   As I slow my mind and soul down, I begin to see good things, such as my favorite food, my family, my favorite tree, the smell of something delicious. I revel in that.  I allow myself to enjoy the peace and let it fill me.  When I open my eyes sometime later, I say, “Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings!” 

I don’t ask for anything.  God is not Santa Claus.  He is my Creator, my Lord, my Father.  As Saint Paul writes in Philippians 4:7:  Rejoice in the Lord always!  I shall say it again, rejoice!  Have no anxiety at all but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.  

And just like my own earthly father could not intervene in all my concerns and problems, our Father in heaven allows us to be free agents in this world, with free will, making our own destiny, our own decisions, and does not intervene in all my situations.  My earthly father allowed me to make mistakes and did not save me from some things so that I could learn how to live and be responsible.  Our heavenly Father does the same for us.  What seems like abandonment is really God allowing us to be free will human beings, learning along the way how to be His loving presence in the world.   Yes, you have to rely on your own because you are not a child but an adult.  You are accountable for your free will actions to God, others, and yourself.  And God won’t stop us; to do so will take away our freedom.  We can only love if we are free.  So, don’t focus on the seeming “injustice” but focus on what can be done to change things. 

Ah…there we go…prayer, especially silent prayer, MUST lead you to change the world even if it is only your little corner of the world.  That is what is going to get you out of your depressed world.  Without this kind of faith and prayer dialog with God, you will not be able to move forward and find the peace that will give you stability and inner strength.

There are no easy answers.  I too struggle with doubt.  I too ask God why this and that.  I too get angry with God Who seems really distant sometimes.  There is no sin in doubting.  There is no sin in getting angry with God since He demands my own honesty in my dialog with Him and myself.  There are no immediate answers to the pain of this world and the pain in my particular life.  So, we go forward and live life to the full and make a mark on this world, a mark that will improve the world around me.  Once again, I must say that I am impressed with your courage and your strength.  You are strong.  You are a faithful person.  You have not given up.  It is time to change old habits.  

Do not focus on sadness but focus on blessings.  Do not stare into the face of depression with resignation but laugh at it.  And with your dialog with God, you will become secure and stronger each day.  I wish I could make all your pain go away.   But you need to get "back on the horse and ride".  Only you can do that.  I can't do it for you.  And neither can God.  But He rides with you telling you in His own way, "You can do it!  I believe in you!"  -  CatholicView Priest Staff


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