Menu Close

Hope for the Hopeless and Rest for the Weary

hopeless and helpless

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

I used to enthusiastically preach that Jesus was hope for the hopeless and rest for weary. Unfortunately, for many people, Jesus, or I should say the Evangelical Christianity, made them weary and hopeless.

What should have been a source of hope and rest turned into something destructive — so destructive that some people have thoughts of committing suicide.

It shouldn’t be this way. I am convinced that Jesus — real or not — is not the problem. I find nothing in the words of Jesus that would cause me to lose hope or have thoughts of suicide.

No, it is what the church has done with Jesus over the past 2,000 years that is the problem. God, Jesus, and the Bible have become tools of manipulation, control, and destruction.

I wish I could share with you the emails I get from people who are former, or trying to be former, Evangelicals. I can’t share them because I respect the privacy of those who email me. For some, my email inbox has become their confessional. I can tell you this: there are a lot of people who are hopeless and weary as a result of their immersion in the Evangelical Christian religion.

They often have no place to turn. In many instances, their families or spouses are still in the church. They desperately need someone to talk to, but they have no place to turn. They can’t go to their pastor — he wouldn’t understand. If they live in a small town, they can’t even seek out a local counselor because everyone will know (you would have to live in a small town to understand this).

So they suffer in silence. In the night they toss and turn and wonder what has gone wrong. Where is God? There is no God. Where is the God of hope? There is no hope. Where is the God who gives rest? There seems to be no rest.

Their thoughts turn to suicide. No, I can’t do that, I’ll go to Hell. Wait, there is no God, who gives a shit?

I want you to know that I give a shit. I have been where you are and some days I am still where you are. There are a lot of readers of this blog who know your story. They have lived it. They are still living it. They know the struggle you are going through — the struggle of a life of faith that has turned into faithlessness, a life of believing that has turned into unbelief. Maybe you are like the man in the Bible who cried “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.”

I am not out to convert you to my cause or change you. It does not matter whom you worship, where you worship, what you believe, or what label you give yourself.

My desire for you is hope and rest.

For many of us, the Evangelical Christian faith has caused psychological damage. The wounds and scars run deep. All the attempts in the world to marginalize our feelings will come to naught. We know what we know.

It’s late . . .

I can hear the clock ticking.

Another night with no sleep.

I hear my lover snoring.

I think of our life together.

So much time wasted.

So much work invested in things that do not matter.

Years have passed us by.

God, we served you.

God, we loved you.

God, we worshiped you.

God, we left all to follow you.

Careers, ambitions, wealth, family . . .

All forsaken to follow you.

Only to find out it was all a dream, and a bad dream at that.

And so, in the still of the night, I reflect on the heap of my life.

What am I to make of all this?

Can I go on?

Will I go on?

I must go on.

God or not, there is a life to be lived.

God or not, I still must live as if I am dying.

Because I AM dying.

So much life yet to live.

So much life yet to experience and enjoy.

God is back on the shelf where he belongs.

Maybe I’ll dust him off again on my final day.

Probably not.

Until then, I will live morally and ethically.

Until then, I will love and hate.

Until then, I will walk the path called life the best way I know.

Without God, without the Bible, and most certainly without the church.

I still have hope.

My hope is no longer built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

My hope is built on the love and goodness of humankind.

These days, the only gods I see are my family, friends, and fellow humans.

I devote myself to these gods.

I worship them.

That’s enough for me.

I will leave eternity to another day.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Angiep

    “These days the only gods I see are my family, friends, and fellow humans. I devote myself to these gods. I worship them. That’s enough for me.” Beautifully stated. How wonderful to be able admit this without fear or guilt.
    Also: “I want you to know I give a shit. I have been where you are and some days I am still where you are. There are a lot of readers of this blog that know your story. They have lived it. They are still living it.” Yes, I second that, and we do care.

  2. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    “I am convinced that Jesus, real or not, is not the problem. I find nothing in the words of Jesus that would cause me to lose hope or have thoughts of suicide.

    No, it is what the church has done with Jesus over the past 2,000 years that is the problem. God, Jesus and the Bible have become tools of manipulation, control and destruction.”

    With these words, I heartily concur. Many thanks for this post, Bruce.

    Shalom,
    John Arthur

  3. Avatar
    TLC

    Call me one of the weary ones. I very much appreciate the support and encouragement I find here, from you, Bruce, and the others.

  4. Avatar
    Brian

    ONE door and only ONE and yet its sides are two…
    I’m on the INSIDE, so fuhuhuck YOU!
    (Naw, shucks, I’m kidding. We really love all people and if you will say these simple prayers, God the one true Father and his Son and the Holy Spirit too will unlock the one door and you can come in and enjoy this church social. Now say after me, “I am a filthy shitbag of flesh….” C’mon, now, God wants you to be happy… You are doing very very well and are on a sound Biblical course! Now say, Jesus died for me before I was even alive and the holy smoke is more real than I am! Good goood you are doing fine. Now give Jesus your heart and say you want to die! Say it! Don’t worry, Jesus will save you, it’s just the way we do things here, just as the Bible tells us. Don’t worry about the money, just yet. We’ll come to that later. (Omit this last statement if you are at a tent revival meeting. If there is a tent, then the money comes out of your pocket sooner to fuel miracles!)
    So goes the best non-R rated television show in all history, rehearsed for years and years even before T.V. arrived on the scene. It has to be true because look how old it is! A smidgen more than two thousand years! Just like the earth itself! (I could go on but I do not wish to become offensive 😉
    Brian (Creation Miniseries International Incorporated)

    • Avatar
      another ami

      I initially read that last bit as Creation Miseries International Incorporated. Then I caught my mistake, but realized there is really is no difference. Creationism miseries indeed.

  5. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Now I can’t get that song out of my head: “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I too am glad I no longer put my hope in the belief that a human sacrifice to a deity, and trusting that the human sacrifice was someone righteous enough to the deity so that the deity doesn’t torture me for eternity. That doesn’t seem like the most solid prospect.

    Religions in their fundamentalist form do so much damage to humans. It’s no wonder that there is such a thing labeled as religious trauma.

  6. Avatar
    DougK

    You know the council in Acts 15, when some men tried to add burdensome requirements to the Christian life? (“You gotta keep all the rules in the Old Testament”) The apostles struck it down…but it occurs to me, that was 2000 years ago and there’s been all the time in the world now for others to try the same thing. And this time, succeeding. Bring in this, change that…

  7. Avatar
    Neil

    You let Jesus off too lightly, Bruce. In my darkest days, it was his words that brought me down: his promises and demands that with enough faith I could move mountains (metaphorical or otherwise), that he would give me rest, that God would answer my prayers (if prayed in Jesus’ name), that I should deny myself, that I should perform miracles and be ready in all seasons to tell everyone about him… I felt, and was, so inadequate in my inability to do these things.
    Until I realised it wasn’t me, I wasn’t letting him down at all; it was the utter unreasonableness of his expectations and his false promises that were the problem.
    It took me years to move out of this mindset, to put the blame directly where it belonged, on the unreasonable zealot, real or otherwise, who monitored my every thought and action from heaven, and found I didn’t measure up to his declared words.
    No, Jesus has a lot to answer for, with his reckless, unreasonable demands and idiotic promises. Don’t forgive him too easily!

Please Leave a Pithy Reply

%d bloggers like this: