The Question of Faith

From my journal dated December 16, 2002:

I keep praying and praying for my family. But I struggle so much with my faith right now. It’s hard to trust a God who didn’t protect Jason. Does He hear me? I have prayed and prayed and prayed for my family over the years, for their lives, for their protection. And yet Jason died. Did God hear me when I prayed for Jason?

Sometimes I feel like scrapping my faith entirely. But I know I won’t, because I do believe in God. It’s who I am. It goes to the very core of me. I have, without a doubt, seen God answer prayers. There’s so much I question, though. There’s so much I don’t understand.

During the offering “ad” at church yesterday morning, the pastor taking the offering said something along the line of “give your tithe and God will bless you,” “pressed down, shaken together,” stuff like that. I looked at Joe and said, “I just don’t know if I believe some of this any more.” He agreed.

We have given our lives to God; we dedicated our kids to Him; we have given our tithe; we have prayed; we have fasted; we have read the Scripture; we have served in the church. But I do not feel blessed of God right now! How can it be a blessing that Jason is gone??!! How can it be a blessing that the rest of us are struggling so much? It doesn’t add up for me. The formulaic approach doesn’t work for me. Do this and God will do that. Faith without works is dead. We’ve had the faith, done the works. Jason is the one who is dead. I just can’t understand how God would let this happen.

The pastor’s sermon was on joy at Christmas. I just don’t feel it this year. I can’t be phony, paste a smile on my face, and jump for joy.

I know that – without the birth, life, and death of Jesus – there would be no resurrection, no hope of seeing Jason again. I do believe. I do believe that Jason is in heaven. I do believe we will see him again; that we will see my dad, the baby we lost, my grandpa, and all the others who have gone on ahead. I do believe that Jesus was born, that he died for our sins, and that He rose again so that we can have eternal life.

I’m just really struggling with parts of what I believe right now. I question so much. What’s real faith and what’s not? It’s an odd position to trust in/believe in God and all that goes with that – and yet being so angry at him that sometimes I feel like grabbing Him by the lapels (assuming He has any), shaking Him, and asking Him why He didn’t protect Jason and why my family has to walk through all of this.

I trust, but I question. I trust, but I’m mad at Him. Church has always felt like a safe home for me, but I’m struggling with being angry at “His people” for abandoning us when Jason died (and since then). I suppose I’ll eventually find some middle ground. I’ve been a Christian for a long time. I picture my faith like a large tree with roots that go deep. But that tree has been nearly cut off at ground level. I’m questioning everything I took for granted – the sayings, the teachings, the cliches, the formulas, the things I thought I knew and understood to be true. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. I think God is big enough and has enough grace to handle my questioning.

I feel like my faith will grow again from the roots up, but it may not look the same as it did. I don’t want some pie-in-the-sky cliche. It’s got to apply to the tough stuff, to daily life. I want a faith and a hope that is real, practical, strong. I want a “rubber meets the road” faith in God that will carry me until I see my boy again.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

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16 thoughts on “The Question of Faith

  1. Rebecca, You seem to have come a long way from from that journal writing. I remember praying with all my might in the emergency room for my Angel girl…and the result of her passing left me with the thought that God didn’t hear me, I did not pray in the right way, or I was too late. I now have settled into my belief that I will see her again. It seems it would be nice to know the reasons for “things”, but that would also remove my yearning for the growth in my relationship with the Lord. I will know “things” when it is my time to know.

    Thanks and God bless,
    Michael

    • I, too, have come to the realization that there are many questions to which I will not have the answers until we see God. I have to admit that I struggled with being mad at God for a very long time. I just had to get back around to the place where my desire to serve Him, for my faith to be real and practical in my daily life, and to be productive and helpful outweighed and replaced my anger…and to where I had a vision once again of becoing that stained glass window that reflects Him through my brokenness. I want life to grow in the hurt and barren places. I am a work in progress…one step at a time.

      God bless you in your life and walk.
      Becky

  2. Rebecca, we too have struggled with our faith – and still do. The expression “when God closes a door, he opens a window” – that’s all fine and good except when that door is your child. What possible window would suffice to help us heal?

    I don’t think God protects us at all. How could he? None of us would ever die. We are all going to die at some point and although it hurts, He knows that it’s so temporary (in the big scheme of things) that once we’re in His place, we’ll understand and all will be erased.

    I do believe that our children will be there for us. I know that heaven is a place so incredibly amazing that our children are much better off. But I must have an inkling of doubt because if I could truly accept that and know it to the core, the pain I feel would be lifted because I could be happy for her. So maybe it’s my faith that isn’t strong enough.

    We’ll just never know will we, at least not in this lifetime – hence the word “faith”.

    As far as being mad at God. Go ahead! That, I’m pretty sure he can handle. Just as we could handle our children being mad at us for not protecting their siblings.

    One night, shortly after my daughter was murdered my then 5 year old was scared to go to bed, scared that something bad might happen to the rest of us, or him too. I told him that I loved him and would always keep him safe. You know what he said to me? “Didn’t you love Stefanie mummy, why didn’t you keep her safe”?

    Sound like something you’ve said to God? He wasn’t old enough to get angry at me, but if he had, I would have shouldered it and ached for him and for myself, just as God does for us.

    God loves us as a father/mother loves their children. The capacity for love that we have for them and for no one else in the world we must trust is a foreshadowing of how He loves us and IS loving our/His children.

    We come into this world alone and we leave alone. The only one who is with us both times is God. Baby steps is the way back to your faith – we’re all a work in progress.

    Thanks for this dialogue, it’s so good for me and hopefully for others too.

    Patricia

  3. I just wanted to thank you for your incredibly kind words on my blog. I read your son Jason’s story and my heart aches for all that you lost the day your son and his friend died. Sending you love and light….

  4. And by the way.. what an amazing post this is. I don’t know how much you have read on my blog, but faith is something I have struggled with since Cullen’s death. I do still believe in God, but my view on how He works here on earth is very different. I can’t believe in a god who picks and chooses whom to perform ‘miracles’ on, or who can let a child die, or let a child be murdered.. or any of the countless atrocities that line life here. I have come to believe that when He gave man free will He stepped back. I see him as one who grieves alongside us.. ever present, but allowing this life to play out with minimal impact by Him.
    My thoughts for the night…

  5. Rebecca:

    We have asked similar questions and experienced similar doubt after the death of our son, Isaac. We have wrestled with the questions, but when the answers aren’t there, we sink further down the spiral of grief. When we read “I trust, but I question” we could relate to your stance. We continue to trust in the goodness of God and cling to the hope of seeing our son again also. Thank you for expressing in words the unplanned and uncertain roller coaster ride that occurs after the death of a loved one, especially a child. Even though we have faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, and are born again by the Spirit, we still struggle with our humanity and with what the world and the enemy bombards us with.

    Thank you and God bless you and your family.

    Andy & Brenda McCleaf

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