How does a Christian wear their faith and what does that faith look like when one’s journey is painful?
Here are my thoughts based on years of studying the Bible, reading books by the great authors of past and present, prayer, and my own trials. Faith isn’t necessarily:
- A smiling face though your heart is breaking
- Displaying no tears.
- Saying the right words
- A lack of questions.
- Acting brave
It is through tears, heartbreak, and questions that we become more aware, not less, of God’s all-encompassing love.
How can we know a God of comfort if we’re never been in a situation to be comforted? How can we know a God of strength if we’ve never been held up by “divine arms”? How can we have a will to survive when it seems as if God has abandoned us if not by experiencing that “quiet, still voice” during the tough times?
I was a hospital chaplain for about ten years and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen grief expressed ways you couldn’t even imagine, from screaming to fainting, to stroking the deceased from the top of their head to their feet, to family fist fights, to stoicism, to anger, to not caring at all.
The time we should least judge anyone’s faith is when they’re experiencing grief. “There but for the grace of God go I“, is never truer than at a time like this.
Besides our time will come.
I think sometimes that’s why we judge. We don’t know how to separate what has happened to them and what may, no, will, eventually happen to us. So we project on them all the ways we hope we will behave but aren’t the least bit sure we will. We foolishly imagine we would handle it better.
But we don’t have a clue.
If we don’t want others to judge us during our darkest hour, we’d better not judge them during theirs.
That has been true for me as well. During my darkest times, I’m sure I haven’t acted as others might expect but I’ve walked in the awareness of the presence of God and, frankly, that has kept me from caring too much about what anyone else thought.
As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of what I read not too long ago:
We get through the tough times by learning to walk in the continual awareness that we’re walking in the presence of God.
It’s kind of like walking in the woods. You don’t see a path, but as you walk the branches move back, the ground is swept away, and a path appears. You don’t see who is clearing your path but you know there is a Presence walking ahead of you preparing a way. It’s kind of mystical and magical and yet Scripture promises that God will, in fact, always prepare the way. But I like to visualize my scriptures, so this works for me.
If my mom’s behavior this past weekend means anything, her passing may be sooner than I want. I grieved for my dad but I will grieve for my mother even more. There’s something about losing a mother.
Will I act the way people think I should? I don’t even know if I will act the way I think I should. I only know I have been grieving for a long time now.
Have you seen some of those commercials that advertise meds for dementia? They present a romanticized picture of an illness that is anything but. Maybe in the beginning of the illness but let me tell you, it’s not sweet and lovely as they make it seem. Dementia is a horrible, degrading illness and watching a loved one deteriorate in unimaginable ways is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.
I will grieve and miss my mother but I will not grieve her escape from this nightmare. I will grieve my loss but will rejoice when I think of her in God’s presence, whole and beautiful once again.
Whatever you’re dealing with today, whether it’s grief, depression or any number of other life’s assaults, I hope that you are aware of God’s presence in whatever way He has chosen to make Himself known to you.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.