So much of the “faith” handed down today through Sunday School lessons and sermons is one that simply doesn’t leave room for mystery or for doubt or, honestly, for many of the actual Bible stories if you read them straight from the Book and not get them second hand from a loose retelling .
Jesus Himself-the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3)-didn’t greet skeptics with absolute proof. He pointed to the work He was doing, the truth He was telling and the miracles He performed but He left it to the audience to decide if that qualified Him as the Christ.
Yet we treat those who bring questions to the table of grace at best as immature and at worst as apostates or faithless wannabes.
Read the rest here: The Opposite of Faith Isn’t Doubt
If you haven’t watched the body of someone you love lowered into the ground while holding your breath and praying, praying, praying that somehow, some way this isn’t real then maybe you can’t imagine what it feels like not to be spared.
Me? It doesn’t take but a single breath to go from “everything is alright” to “my world is shattered”. I feel every. single. death. added to the tally a mass shooting or tornado destruction leaves behind.
So what do we do if we aren’t rescued? What do we cling to if our family isn’t spared?
What if all the prayers lifted on behalf of ones I love don’t stop death from claiming them?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem He was hailed as a hero. But when He didn’t perform as expected He was cast aside.
Will I choose to believe even when it’s hard?
So what if I’m not rescued?
What if my family isn’t spared?
What if all the faithful prayers lifted on behalf of ones I love don’t stop death from claiming them?
Will I still believe?
Will I still trust that God is a loving Father who is in control and working all things together for His glory and my good?
Read the rest here: What If I’m Not Rescued?
There is SO much meat in today’s devotion/reflection/challenge.
Once Jesus had wrestled His own will to the ground, submitted fully to the Father’s will and accepted that He would have to drink the bitter cup, and firmly faced cross-ward, He was safe from intimidation.
As Chole points out “Fear is intimidation’s oxygen”.
Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Fasting Fear, Believing Jesus
Uncertainty is quite revealing. The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our souls’ defaults. Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security again.
Alicia Britt Chole
Wow! Can I identify with this!
One of the things I’ve learned in this life I didn’t choose is that the earthquake of child loss revealed all the weak spots in my character and my faith.
When faced with uncertainty and lack of control, I desperately want to bring order to my wildly disordered world.
Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Avoidance and Choosing to Engage
There have always been those who tried to reduce faith to something completely comprehensible.
But even a cursory reading of God’s Word and a casual experience with His ways makes that laughable.
When Jesus began teaching His disciples more and more about the Kingdom of God and His role as Christ, they were confused and dismayed. When I read His words they are still challenging and sometimes obscure even though I live on the other side of the resurrection.
Not everything can be explained.
Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Embracing Mystery-I Don’t Have to Understand Everything
n Jewish culture, “It’s an act of reverence to ask questions of the story. The Jews are confident that the story is strong enough to be tried and tested….Around the table, a Jewish child has ‘That’s a good question!’ drummed into his or her soul, not ‘You don’t ask that question’…Questions are a sacred as answers.” (Dr. Leonard Sweet)
If you’ve read a single word I’ve written in the past eight years you know how close this truth is to my heart!
I think we do a disservice to ourselves and others when we reduce the complexities of Scripture to something like Aesop’s Fables. Real people lived real lives and had real questions. The Almighty God is big enough to handle them.
Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Making Space for Authentic Faith
A little review as we get to the last post in our series: Trying to stuff or hide my pain from myself, God and others is fruitless and unhelpful.
I’ve got to breathe out the sorrow, doubts, angst and disappointment to make room for the life-giving breath of Truth and the Holy Spirit.
And then I need to do one more thing. I must appropriate the strength and courage of my Savior-the Author and Finisher of my faith.
It is possible to endure. It is possible to finish well. It is possible to hold onto hope and follow the Light and Love of Jesus through this Valley.
My friend and fellow bereaved mom, Margaret Franklin, Ryan’s mom, shared a beautiful Dutch word with me “Sterkte” (pronounced STAIRK-tah).
It literally translates “strength” or “power” but culturally means much more. It means bravery, strength, fortitude and endurance in the face of fear and insumountable odds through the empowering strength of God in me.
Not MY strength, but HIS.
It’s the strength Isaiah meant when he wrote:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 KJV
This is what it means to appropriate God’s strength:
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Appropriate God’s Strength
Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “My goodness! I talked WAY too much”?
I can become so wrapped up in sharing my own experience, spilling my own feelings, trying to communicate my own point of view that I don’t leave space for the other person to get a word in edgewise.
Sometimes I do the same thing when talking to God-I can’t stop chattering long enough to hear what He wants to speak into my pain.
When I choose to listen, He is faithful to remind me of truth. He is faithful to lead me to the green pastures of His word where I can feast on His promises and be filled with hope.
“I wake before the morning light. Every. single. morning.
I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.
I never worry that today it might not happen.
I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulness, this day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.
There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.
Morning is coming.
Morning. Is. Coming.
And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may be, the Valley has an end.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Access the Truth
Some of us have grown up in faith communities where doubt is treated as disbelief.
I’m so sorry.
Doubt is, in my opinion, a precursor to deeper faith, stronger commitment, informed and more solid trust in God and in His goodness and sovereignty.
If devastating loss has brought you to knees or face down on the floor begging God to make sense of it all, you are in good company. So many of His saints have cried out in despair.
If you are frightened you are losing faith, remember this: the simple fact you know where and to Whom to bring your pain means your heart is still turned toward your Savior.
Grief forces me to walk Relentlessly Forward even when I long to go back.
I can’t stop the clock or the sun or the days rolling by.
Those of us who are more than a couple months along in this journey (or any journey that involves tragedy and loss) know that it is ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE to feel worse than in the first few days.
Because as the edges of the fog lift and the reality of an entire lifetime looms before you the questions form and the doubt sinks in.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Acknowledge Doubt and Ask Questions
For those of us who follow Jesus, perhaps the most difficult and important grief work we must do is deciding how our faith fits into the new and awful reality of child loss.
I’ve encountered so many hurting hearts struggling to square their experience of devastating loss with their faith in a loving and all-powerful God.
I write about my own struggle over and over in this space but this series of posts is an orderly exploration of doubt, pain, faith and the hope I’ve found in Christ Jesus.
I pray it helps another heart hold on.
Child loss is Unnatural-no way around it.
Out of order death is devastating.
When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart. My heart shattered into a million pieces. And after almost eight years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.
So what does a heart do when that happens? Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time.
Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.
When the sun rose again, the pain was still there. And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Admit the Pain