I’ve been struggling with the words in this post, though I’m hopeful you or somebody you know needs them.
I’m sharing a link to our pastor’s latest book–Hope in the Dark.
Not because Craig Groeschel is our pastor.
Not because it sold out in two days, eventually becoming unavailable due to demand.
Not because this book is well-written.
Although all of the foregoing is true.
I’m posting this because of how Christ moved in me as I read this book.
I’m posting this because this book hammered out the notes of my personal pain, putting words to my emotions, hemming me in with Truth.
I’m posting this because this book gives me permission to ask hard questions of a God I’ve repeatedly made too small.
This book is not just a bandage for our wounded world; it’s open-heart surgery to prevent spiritual death.
This book is not for everyone, today.
It’s arguably for everyone, some day.
At some point, you will likely live long enough to experience life-altering pain.
The kind of pain that threatens to break you, your belief system, what you thought you knew of the world around you, what you thought you knew of God.
The kind of pain that changes the trajectory of your faith.
* * *
I never knew this pain until my most recent season spent walking alongside my mom as she battles what feels like a presently sorrowful health situation.
We pray against it. We expect a miracle.
We still feel present loss as we wait.
I hope you can hear my heart: We still have Hope for tomorrow as we await and believe for Mom’s healing.
But for whatever reason, today still looks like it does.
And we are hurting tremendously.
I can’t possibly reduce this pain, my family’s pain, to a mere post.
I continue to grapple with why yesterday and today are like they are.
I’m experiencing personal loss because life and relationships look different than I thought they would look right now.
This pain is always with me, today.
It affects nearly everything I see.
I can now say that I know life-altering pain.
I’ve known it for a couple years.
And I can exhale after I say that.
I can exhale and slowly, carefully say I choose to believe God is good.
One I now make thoughtfully based on my experience, my struggle, with a personal God.
Just like my faith in Jesus Christ is a calculated choice, with unanswered questions, my faith in the goodness of God is a calculated choice, with unanswered questions.
One that now has teeth.
My faith in the goodness of God now has teeth.
I trust God is good not because it’s a trite saying or a smile plastered on my face or a bracelet I wear or a mantra I regurgitate.
I trust God is a good God because I see that in the dark.
Even with my unanswered questions–ones that still exist–I see God. I see His ways are good.
I wrestle with God amid stomach-churning sorrow, senseless pain, flat-faith, dry prayers, and He meets me there in my ugly, in my honesty.
He meets me in my desire to want to believe He is good.
He meets me there, unveiling a closeness with Jesus I have never known thus far.
* * *
Please don’t let go.
Please don’t sweep it under the rug.
Please don’t patch up your pain with a pithy expression.
These, while perceivably soothing, can stunt or unravel your future faith.
While the struggle feels excruciating, God has something for you if you’re willing to wrestle with Him, asking the hard, undignified questions.
If you’re willing to listen.
Hope in the Dark implores us to do so:
Think about it: you can have a sincere faith in God even as you are wrestling with unanswered questions. God is big enough to handle it. And he loves you enough to be patient with you as you learn about parts of his character that were too deep for you to comprehend before your crisis of belief.
What if drawing closer to God, developing genuine intimacy with him, requires you to bear something that feels unbearable? To hear him through an ominous utterance, to trust him in the moment of doom, to embrace his strength when you’re weak with a burden? What if it takes real pain to experience deep and abiding hope?
While I can’t promise this will be an easy read for you, I can near promise there will be fruit if you’re willing to embrace and struggle with a personal God.
You are not alone in your pain.
Love you, dear friend.