I’ve known for a couple of weeks that I wanted to write this, but I’ve been struggling with how to lay it out. You see, what’s going on in my head and my heart is messy, and it’s hard to communicate messy in 600 words or so. Messy doesn’t wrap up in a nice bow with a lesson at the end. Messy is an ongoing struggle, a wrestling with soul and mind and spirit. But I want to get it down—even if it doesn’t conclude nicely—because one of the things I’m learning is how to be in the middle of the mess.
I was recently disappointed. It wasn’t a huge thing, but the disappointment is real and it’s been roiling around in my soul for a while now and I’ve been wrestling with God over it. Around the same time, a friend asked me about my walk with the Lord during a period of time a few years back that I refer to as my “year of hell”—tragedy after tragedy compiled with stress after stress as I walked through an emotional and psychological crisis period. The funny thing, I realized when my friend asked, was that my faith wasn’t shaken during that time. Through it all, I saw God as God and God as good. I continually watched His faithful care in the darkest moments of grief and tragedy.
“But something about this current disappointment is different. It’s not that God is not good. Not that He is not on His throne. Not that He is not showing Himself as faithful. It’s just that I’m sick and tired of this stuff.”
It’s the same disappointment, again. And I want to scream. I want to stand up and yell, “Seriously, God?! Again?!”
Right in the midst of this another friend posted a picture of a page of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. The passage hit home for me:
Without an understanding of the Wall in the journey, however, countless sincere followers of Christ stagnate there and no longer move forward with God’s purpose for their lives. Some of us hide behind our faith to flee the pain of our lives rather than trust God to transform us through it. We utter platitudes like “God uses all things for good” (see Romans 8:28)…. We don’t curse or get bitter toward God. We keep it together to demonstrate to the weaker members of the body and the watching world that our faith is solid and strong.
The problem is that emotionally healthy faith admits the following.
- I am bewildered
- I don’t know what God is doing right now
- I am hurt
- I am angry
- Yes, this is a mystery
- I am very sad right now.
- God, why have you forsaken me?
I started praying those bullet points this past weekend. And as I did so, I was reminded of a hymn Paul quotes in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;If we endure, we will also reign with him;If we deny him, he will also deny us;If we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.