As I was in the chapel the other day, a stranger came in, he came near me. No one else was present, and without hesitation came to talk to me. He told me right away that he was a self-professed atheist, but he was curious about Jesus. After a few minutes of asking him what he knew about Jesus, it was clear that all he knew were the things the media and all his other non-religious friends have told him. Naturally, I got cautious with the encounter; I’ve had these conversations before, often times ending in arguments and circular intellectual traps from both sides. Yet this stranger was genuine in his questioning; he was, in a way, on a quest for the truth.
He asked: “So, how do you pray? I’ve never gotten a response when I’ve prayed, why?”
I replied, “You should try it again, and if you don’t get a response, try again,” and then he asked, “How many times must I ask before I receive a response?”
With this question, I had to ask him the personal question: “What are you praying for?” to my surprise, he said: “Faith.”
So I asked for more details, “Why do you want faith if you’re an atheist?”
His response is too long to write out, but he told me that about two months ago his girlfriend of 3 years died, that she suffered a lot, but her faith and prayer life were continuous. To him, the joy and the peace he witnessed were paradoxical. It made him think; it made him question; would he be as peaceful in death as she was, but more revealing for him was how depressed he is right now.
His last words to me before he left are hard to recall, but it went something like this: “I am tired of not believing. I am tired of wondering where she could be. She must be in a better place because she deserves to be, she should be in heaven; I need to believe that she is, but it is hard to believe.”
After that, he left for class, so I went back on my knees and prayed for him, and I remembered the times when I was like him, fighting faith, doubting God; I remembered how tiring it all was, and how restless my heart was in those moments.
As the year of faith is nearing its close, this encounter was appropriately a blessing for me; it reminded me of how restless and worrisome life is for those who do not believe, but on the contrary, how joyful and peaceful life is for those who decide to trust and to have faith in the Lord in good times and in bad times, in life and in death.
Are you restless? Are you tired?—Surrender your heart and your mind to Him!