Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some Days, Doubt is Normal


I read a devotional blog three times a week. The blogger can sometimes barely manage three posts a week. Sometimes it’s two. Occasionally, it’s none.

The blogger has a husband who’s going through chemotherapy. He has cancer. He’s in his early 30s. They have children.

She maintains an outward smile in her blogs. She’s always trying to be encouraging. She focuses on joyful things, positive things, likely knowing that her husband is reading what she writes.

Sometimes she cracks. And it’s okay. The people who follow her blog, including me, know that it’s okay to crack. She’s shouldering an enormous weight, and sometimes you have to let the smile go and just crack.

Some days she disappears.

She clings to her faith like a life preserver. Some days it’s not enough.

In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge says that “in the thick of my own personal darkness, when it seemed that God wasn’t hearing any of my prayers, I really struggled to find any sort of faith in my heart for deliverance.”

Doubt.

Coldness.

Unanswered prayers.

Some days it’s easy to believe what all the celebrity atheists say. Some days it’s easier not to believe.

Faith can be hard.

Faith can be harder than not believing.

We’ve all had those experiences. We might never admit that; some churches can be notoriously non-understanding. We’re supposed to be living the victorious Christian life, which absolutely has no room for depression and doubt.

And yet Jesus had times when he questioned and cried out, times when the pain was overwhelming.

When John the Baptist was killed by Herod.

In the garden of Gethsemane.

On the cross.

I think of my blogging friend, and I can’t begin to approach an understanding of what she’s going through. I read her words, brave words, knowing she must be crumbling, or screaming, on the inside.

Some days, doubt is normal.


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


Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

8 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

Glynn: I am a pastor so there is a certain "mask" that has to be worn. I get so tired of wearing it sometimes. I also get really tired of people pretending things are all a-okay when they are not. Honesty in the right settings brings healing. I admire this blogger you read who tells her true feelings. It's time more Christ-followers did that.

jasonS said...

Such a wonderful reminder, Glynn. Very stirring. You bring up such a valuable truth: living the victorious Christian life is not about hype or pretending. There truly is victory in Christ and He is forever reigning, but not everything is subject to Him yet--we are enforcing the victory He attained through His blood. Our victorious Christian life sometimes looks like doubt and fear will overwhelm us. It looks like a lot of crying and not much laughter. The hope we have though is not in our achieving anything but coming to a place of expressing the victory He has purchased. Love this, Glynn. Thank you.

Maureen said...

In her interview at On Being, Nadia Bolz-Weber of the House of Saints and Sinners in Denver spoke of trying only to allow her scars to show, and not her wounds, because on seeing the latter, her parishioners would feel the need to assume the role she is there to fulfill. She noted how she makes sure she has other places for her emotional needs to be met. She has many scars... because she is human.

As one who is still part of a cancer group, I know the stories of wanting to be strong but needing to be able to fall apart. The wounds are deep and the scars long and pain-carrying. Caregivers struggle every day with hope and faith and doubt, with needing to allow in and wanting to shut out. Darkness and light exist in the very same moment.

diana said...

Thank you so much for these good, strong, important words, Glynn. And thanks to Maureen for hers, too. That last paragraph of hers describes so much of what we experienced when my son-in-law was dying five years ago - all of that. We need to give permission for lament, grief, doubt. Thank you for offering it here.

TC Avey said...

Thank you for this wonderful reminder that we are human- God doesn't expect us to be perfect or respond perfectly all the time (however we seem to think we should or others should).

It's not the doubt or fear that's a sin, it's what we do with those emotions. Jesus shows us what to do- take it to God!

nance.mdr said...

All who walk in the light of faith, can see the shadow. We know it is there, yet we also know it's best to keep our eyes on the light.

But, when we are struggling, it is good to speak it.

nance.mdr said...

I have noticed with those that are care takers, that the care taker usually puts-off taking care of themselves. It's like they don't notice their own decline for lack of break and support and refreshment. They usually end up taking on too much and not looking at (for some reason) the signs of their need. They don't ask for help. So it is up to others to step-in.

David Rupert said...

Glynn,I missed this last week but glad I found it now. Doubt is very real, but here's how a i combat it. The heart will falter, but the head is keeps me straight. When the greatest commandment says, "love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind," it literally means with your brain! That's why I love apologetics. Faith cannot be proven, but when facts are so solid in so many other areas, I simply cannot fall away. The church and Christians at large do not exercise their head muscle, relying instead on an overdose of emotion.