When I was asked several months ago to speak to a group of hospice care workers, I titled the presentation “Lifting the Veil on Grief”.
One of the topics I covered was how experiencing the death of a loved one-especially out-of-order or untimely death- can cause even the staunchest believer to doubt.
And the first thing I said was, “Doubt in the face of overwhelming sorrow and hard circumstances is absolutely normal. But doubt is NOT disbelief.”
So often friends, family, clergy, social workers and others want to steer hearts away from doubt because they are afraid that entertaining questions or expressing disappointment in God will always lead to someone losing faith.
That is untrue.
When my son ran ahead to Heaven, I reexamined everything I believed.
But I did not “lose” my faith.
I never once doubted that God was still working, was still loving and was still in control.
But I most certainly had to drag out every single thing I thought I knew about how He worked, loved and superintended the world and examine it in light of my experience of burying my son. It took a long time to work through all the pat answers I had been offered and myself doled out to others for years that didn’t fit with my new reality.
One of the ways I did that was to journal my questions, complaints, anger and disappointment. I wrote it out.
Many of the Psalms are precisely that-David and others crying out to God, begging Him for understanding and for a sliver of hope. As the Psalmist breathed out his doubts and fears, the Spirit of God breathed fresh life into his soul.
My journals are filled with strong words and strong feelings. They are also filled with, what I believe, God spoke to my heart in response. Sometimes it was in the form of a Bible verse, sometimes a memory, sometimes song lyrics or a prayer. And sometimes the pages are simply a record of how my Shepherd gently led me through a particular hard moment or day or week.
So if you are struggling with doubt-let yourself off the hook.
You can’t deny it.
And you don’t have to.
You’re in good company.
Grab a notebook and pen and start writing. Just begin. Don’t edit yourself in fear someone may read it one day. God knows anyway.
When you’re done spilling, sit quietly in the Presence of your Shepherd. Listen to what He may be speaking to your broken heart.
I have done this for decades through many hard things- child loss being the hardest.
The Lord is faithful to meet me right where I am and fill me with His Spirit.
He’s never leaves me without hope when I turn my heart toward Him.