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Round 2?

September 8, 2008

Shortly after my mom died, I remember several people telling me (if I was even remotely OK at the time they saw me) that I was in shock and it was all going to hit me later.

In case there is any question in this matter, this certainly did nothing to encourage me. It did nothing to help me in the grieving process. It just made me really mad. …REALLY mad.

I was feeling A LOT of pain. I was encountering a deeper loss than I had ever known, and I was exercising that newly-learned skill of NOT shutting down emotionally. I was frustrated by the fact that me being able to rest in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness (and stop crying for just a few minutes together) necessarily meant that I had a whole heap of deeper pain and sorrow lurking around the corner somewhere.

So, I was annoyed and did my best to ignore them, continuing to keep my heart open and meet the Lord in the midst of the most painful loss I had ever experienced.

And then the last week started up… and I realized that I was entering into another intense season of grieving my mother’s death.

It’s difficult to explain. In fact, I don’t even know how to begin to try. But I know that I am encountering deep wells of pain. I know that I am asking the hard questions (Why didn’t You heal my mom?) and crying a lot.

Right after my mom died, God’s goodness was so inescapable. He was good… He was faithful… I could trust Him. And I knew it beyond a shadow of doubt. I opened my heart up to feel and experienced some of the most horrifying, awful feelings I had ever encountered. But God was so close, so present through all of it.

What I knew about God at that time was certain. I could not question it… I KNEW it. Sometimes, the only thing I could pray (as it felt like everything around me was being completely shattered) was “I trust you.” I would just sit there, between floods of tears, and whisper, “I trust you. Help me.”

But I am presently encountering a doubt and uncertainty within my heart that I cannot ignore. The other night, I was pleading with God, “I need to know why I trusted You. I need to remember why I thought You were good. I need to remember why I thought you were faithful.” Because those realities felt so far from me.

I can’t imagine many things more frightening than realizing that I don’t trust God. I mean… really… if I don’t believe His promises and I don’t believe that He is on my side… that He is the Lord God gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… then I am completely without hope. If those things are not true of Him, then surely he is going to play sick and torturous games with me, for some twisted sense of amusement, and then crush me like an insect. If I can’t trust God, then I have no hope. Then things will never be better than they are.

During our 2 AM set on Friday, I was experiencing a moment of profound honesty… in my own heart and before the Lord. The team was singing, “I trust You. I cast my cares on You. You have not withheld any good thing from me. Why should I be anxious for anything? I trust you.” But this was not the declaration of my own heart. I sat there, screaming internally, “I don’t trust You! You have withheld good things! Of course I’m anxious!”

Fortunately, God is confident enough in who He is that the acknowledgment of those realities couldn’t shake Him or drive Him away from me.

At church Sunday morning, I completely lost it. I was lightly crying or on the verge of tears through much of the service. But it was after the prayer at the end that the dam broke. “God… who loves you like a mother.” Ouch. I don’t really believe that right now, do I? (Oh… and our closing song was Joyful, Joyful. Certainly not the emotion of the moment, for me. But, more than that, there were all of these piercing lines in the song that were hitting on areas of accusation and unbelief within my heart.

I know His leadership is perfect. Ultimately, I think I still trust Him. I’ve had brief respites where I am declaring that trust with confidence before God, where I am singing with all of my heart that I trust Him, His leadership. But then the uncertainty and the questions arise.

I have a fair degree of confidence concerning how this whole thing is going to end. But I know that I am really wrestling with truth right now. I am really fighting to believe those things that are most central to my being. I am struggling for the faith that carries my hope. I am encountering the questions that arise out of situations like this. We are working this thing out… until the truth is residing deep within my soul… where I am living and breathing out of that place of trusting God and knowing who He is. When I rest again in Him.

Is this what they’re talking about when they call something a crisis of faith?

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7 comments

  1. Wow Christine. Thanks for your honesty, it takes alot of courage to put yourself out there like this.


  2. i am proud of you for asking the hard questions. i am proud of you for wrestling and working and thinking and feeling. where you are right now is where a whole heck of a lot of people don’t even dare to venture, but a place that scripture has alluded to being right where we all ought to be.

    faith doesn’t require us to just kind of sit back and take whatever theologians and preachers tell us is what we are supposed to be experiencing. God probably shudders at the very thought of that. we are to be continually working through this salvation–not in order to disprove God or agree with dark ideas about him (mark the verse: “…with fear and trembling”, it’s dangerous ground), but to more firmly conclude what is proven and inarguable about him. like you said, you know how it will end, but if you don’t go through this, what good is your faith? what good is your steadfast belief? and what cause does hope have to arise?

    blind trust in God is not noble. blind belief is worthless. a changed heart and a renewed mind, however, are increasingly noble and full of worth. i will be praying for you, partnering with God to see you through. and i’ll be here to cry with if you need me. : )


  3. Matt 5:4 – Praying that you’ll feel blessed and comforted according to God’s promise.


  4. What they said. Especially what Kacie said.

    I am so proud that you know there is a battle to be fought and you have the courage to fight it. I’m so proud that you’re willing to engage God in the dark place instead of just accepting a comfortable idol and retreating into platitude and numbness.

    It’s not easy to be Job. It’s far easier to be one of Job’s “friends.” But the blessing is in the raw, honest place. I’m thankful that you know that.

    And I’m thankful for your willingness and ability to put your struggle into words.

    I pray the grace and genuine comfort of the Lord be upon you–and His peace, peace wrought through and embracing conflict, questioning and tension.


  5. Hi Christine,

    I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place. The good news is that you are in a tunnel, not a pit. I know that’s not much comfort in the midst of it, but you will come out of this tunnel stronger and more established in your faith and in Jesus. While it hurts, it’s good.

    I’m praying for you. If you want to talk, give me a call, ok?


  6. Christine, It’s Susan, who still doesn’t know you! But I read this and thought about it on and off all day. Having lost my mom, as I mentioned last time I commented, in my 20s, I do know it’s not anything anyone can grasp. To be that close and lose a mom is incomprehensible even to me. Anyway, I don’t even know you so it’s not my place to say anything except that blog or not, you are a real person and I have been praying for you very deeply and, I believe, led by the Spirit, for a sister in Christ. I just wanted you to know that.


  7. Thank you all for the prayers and encouragement.



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