I’ve always felt it a bit foolish to base my faith in Jesus on the idea that if everything is going great in my life, there must for sure be a God. It seems risky to tiptoe around life, cautiously hoping that nothing bad happens in order to assure myself that God is real and loves me.
If I fall into any “camp” of thinking, it’s that life on this side of eternity is rough. We live in a broken world, and I follow Christ because He has freed me from my sin that adds to that brokenness. He strengthens me to withstand the messy, broken situations. My faith is not anchored on the lack of pain and problems … it’s anchored on the One who can make sense of such stuff.
There are some things that throw me. Really throw me. Like the death of young parents. In just a few short years’ time, I am aware of nearly a dozen young families in my reach of friends that have lost a husband or wife … a mom or dad.
In the last month ALONE, five young families connected to us or to friends of ours have been rocked by the loss of the families’ dads.
In a world of fatherless children, these are men who wanted to be dads … who were reportedly great fathers and husbands. Not perfect, but certainly present and engaged in their families. Godly men.
In two other situations moms died … each of them the believing spouse in the family. Young kids have been left to grow without the influence of a believing parent … unless these tragedies bring their husbands to faith. But will that happen … or will they grow bitter and pass that to their children?
I don’t understand.
It makes me shake my head.
And worry for those kids.
In a world where the younger generations are more broken and lost than ever … where alarming statistics inform us that today’s youth populate the most unbelieving generation our nation has maybe ever seen … why would You take Godly parents out of the picture, Lord?
So … yes … my faith is shaken a bit. Does it make me stop believing?
Historically, “coincidentally”, miraculously … too much has happened in my life to allow tragedies to erase my faith.
But, I am set back … wondering at what I know of God … what I understand of Him.
Is He cruel, then?
I think back to a dear friend from college and his new wife and their first baby. A beautiful, beautiful child, she suddenly died. Just four months old, she was a victim of SIDS.
Our college group was devastated. I will never forget the first time I saw this grieving couple after the funeral. It was at church. They quietly walked to open seats in the front row and stood during the time of singing with one hand holding onto their spouse … their free hands extended into the air. A gesture of surrender in a torrent of pain and tears.
They would go on to have three more children, two sons and one more daughter … a daughter with disabilities.
Never have I heard them complain. Broken, yes. Confused, yes. Mad at first. But, finally, … thankful … more than any other emotion.
“I refuse to believe that life or God owes me anything,” my friend once said to me. “I will take what is given me and offer it back to the One who it really belongs to in the first place.”
I’m not sure I’m that spiritually mature … but the peace … the rewards of the bitter-free life that I see in him is certainly enticing. From that place of surrender, this couple has led dozens upon dozens, if not thousands of people to Christ.
I am shaken …
I drove to school the other morning, aching for one of these young families whose father of four was snatched by pneumonia just a few days ago. No warning … a common affliction … and yet, he is gone. There are no do-overs here.
I thought of men like Winston Churchill and C.S. Lewis who lost their mothers while young and who grew to stand against evils in the world.
I thought of Jesus who at some point after 12 years of age and before his 30’s lost the influence of his earthly father in his life … of Jesus whose cousin, John the Baptist, was unjustly murdered.
I prayed and cried during that drive … finally and oddly reassured that Jesus is bigger … He’s not done … that those families have more going for them than against them. That God’s ways are still higher … better … more powerful … certainly different than my ways … and that’s a good thing.
Shaken. YET … and this is corny … but after my cry/pray session, I stopped by a coffee shop for my go-to drink … a shaken lemonade.
As I watched the barista shake the green tea, berries, and lemonade, it occurred to me that being shaken isn’t necessarily a bad thing … the best flavors have a chance to come back to the top. When it comes to my faith, foundational truths surface once again, it just doesn’t feel good … that’s for sure.
No … mine is a shaken faith … and I think that’s a good thing.