Question:

I was an evangelical Christian over five years ago. I am still a believer. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs or anything like that. I don't have a girlfriend.

I stopped going to church about two years ago. It was because I had surgery (Palatal Expansion). I was born with a cleft palate problem. I think it's Amniotic Band Syndrome. I have spent all my life going to doctors appointments, getting x-rays done, a check-up with my surgeons or jaw team to work on my lower jaw and my dentist or orthodontist who works with my teeth. Does God care when I go through all of this? What would He do? What does He do when I am in surgery?

I have gone to college but decided to stop going and prefer to go when I'm fully finished with my surgeries, so I won't miss any days of classes like before. I am a little behind, and, yes, sometimes I do get a lot of negativity in my mind, like why this and why that. Why am I still getting surgeries done? Why couldn't they do it before getting out of high school? Why can't I get a girlfriend that I can share my heart with. That kind of negativity. But I do regret saying that. What I do is I just cry in my room or when I'm alone or before I sleep. I don't know if it's bad to really feel sad all the time or depressed. I've never seen any Christian go through depression.

Right now I consider myself as a non-churchgoer. It's been two years since I have gone to my old church. But it does not mean that I have separated God's word from my life.

Another thing is I have listened to music of the world as most define to be, like Death Metal and Hip-Hop. Is there anywhere in the Bible that says it's bad for a Christian to listen that kind of music? I don't think anything bad about God when I listen the music.

I really want to be saved by God! I know we are all in the last days of the world with all this economic crisis and earthquakes. I want my name to be written in the Book of Life, but at the same time, will not going to church keep me from going to Heaven? Can anyone be saved without going to church? Will God heal me when the doctors couldn't heal me, even though I'm a sinner?


Answer:

Suffering and imperfections have been in the world ever since Adam and Eve sinned. Why you were born with these particular difficulties can only be guess work on anyone's part. Such things happen for a variety of reasons. See: Does God Make the Handicapped? for more details. While reading your note, I was thinking that it is good that you live in a time and place where such defects can be repaired. That wasn't true not all that long ago.

I have a good friend who was born with spina bifida -- a hole on her back to her spinal cord. She has had to have surgeries multiple times each year because as she grew the repairs could not grow with her. It sounds to me that since you were able to survive without the repairs, the doctors waited until they were certain that you had finished growing so that you would only need to go through one set of surgeries. This is particularly important since every surgery carries risks.

Even the prophet Elijah went through a period of depression (I Kings 19), so of course there are Christians who get depressed. Life can be hard at times and sometimes it gets to you. The real question isn't whether you get down, but whether you allow yourself to stay down. It is easy to get caught in the trap of pitying ourselves to the point that we no longer function. We forget that life has both good and bad points all the time. We get focused on the bad things and miss the good in life. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

By isolating yourself, you took away people who could encourage you and help you see the good side of life. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23-25). You don't get to heaven by going your own way. You reach it by submitting to God's will because we realize that God knows more than we do about life.

"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:46-49).

You might not have a girlfriend at the moment who would listen to you, but you turned your back on a greater friend who would listen and give aid. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:6-7). I recently read an unabridged version of an old book called "Heidi." I was struck by a number of the messages illustrated by the book. One is that often we don't get instant answers to our prayers because the best answer comes at a later time when all the right pieces are in the right place. Usually we don't realize it until looking back and seeing that if we had gotten an immediate answer a lot of good would not have taken place.

Can you get to heaven without going to church? The answer is, "no" because to not go is to rebel against God's command to be a part of a church (and not just fill a pew once a week). You don't want to be like those Paul described as "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work" (Titus 1:16).

The answer about music doesn't depend on the style of music but the words being sung. See: Is it okay to listen to secular music?