Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Broken Faith

We’ve been in those places before. We’re confident that our faith is strong. We’re serving. Our desire for recognition isn’t overwhelming our motives. Life is going well.

And then, smash: the crack-up.

Sometimes it erupts suddenly. Sometimes it only appears to erupt suddenly, but there were signs (largely ignored or dismissed). But the smash happens. And for a time we stagger around, or lay prostrate, overwhelmed, feeling tossed upon an unknown and very angry sea.

Crack-ups are not limited to younger or middle-aged people. They can happen to all ages, to people in all income levels and socio-economic groups, to people strong in faith and those new to or weak in faith.

The causes or triggers are myriad: a death, a serious illness, loss of a job, upheaval at church, a personal attack, a child goes awry, a financial setback, a business fails. While all of those things often are common to life, and to our lives, it’s still a shock when it happens to us, when it happens to me.

I’m in one of those situations now. Decisions made at my workplace more than a year ago – decisions I knew were bad at the time – caught up with the organization. Then came the crisis, a series of ongoing crises, not enough people to handle them and do everything else that needed to be done, followed by organizational upheaval to address and fix the problem.

I’m past the point of overwork. I’m in what seems like a deep well of physical exhaustion. A potential resolution is in sight, but the exhaustion is so deep that I simply nod at the news. I’ve done what I have usually done in situations like this: I’ve held it together, sometimes with pieces of scrap cloth and chicken wire, sometimes with my fingernails.

My expression for times like these is “scratching my way down the blackboard of life.”

Similar things have happened before. They usually arrive with other crises, like upheaval at church, or a family problem.

This time, too.

Bob Sorge, author of The Fire of Delayed Answers, would call this a time of broken faith. He cites the example of David, and says something distinctly un-American, distinctly un-cultural: “…to produce the kind of brokenness in David that God desired, he had to break David’s faith. How did He do that? By leading David into a wilderness where no amount of faith posturing would effect any change…In this way, God broke David’s framework and understanding of faith and then began to totally rebuild it.”

I should point out that it wasn’t only the wilderness experience where God did this. It happened again, with the adultery with Bathsheba. And it happened again, with the rebellion of Absalom.

It happened a lot. This breaking and rebuilding process wasn’t a one-time affair.

It puts new meaning into the statement that “David was a man after God’s own heart.”

He was a man after God’s own heart because God broke his faith that way.

As for me, I read psalms, I write some poems, I pray. I hold on to the promise, and I trust.

Most days, that’s sufficient.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see more posts on this chapter, “David’s Cave,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.

Photograph by Julie Gentry via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Martha J. M. Orlando said...

You are in my prayers, Glynn . . .

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Good word Glynn. Have to admit I have been there and know it will happen again. When I make a stupid decision/move then I feel I deserve the brokenness, but when it is the result of someone else making it, and I get caught in the undertow, it is much more trying. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

nance.mdr said...

Always a good way to think of crack-ups. But, it's easier to do that after the crack-up has passed. At the bottom of the blackboard sitting in the chalk rack, looking back.

That blackboard sentence was soooo jolting, that i had to read it again...and it was just as teeth gritting-ly jolting, again. Good one.

TC Avey said...

This chapter has really helped me understand my own brokenness. God designs my wilderness. And He WILL use it to change me. Being broken hurts, but God's grace holds us even when we aren't strong enough to hold Him. I've been in places where I questioned if there even was a God. God was big enough to handle my doubts and He loved me enough to let me have questions. He also loved me enough to show me answers. He shatter my religion and gave me a relationship.

jasonS said...

Glynn, I may not have your exact circumstances, but I do know how it feels. Extremely thankful that brokenness is not the end, but the prelude to something greater. In David, in us--we can trust Him. Thanks for your honesty and transparency.