Thursday, September 15, 2011

One step forward...a million steps back

Sigh. Warning to you all: this is an ugly, possibly even sacrilegious post. I'm trying to edit myself a bit, but even the edited version is pretty bad. Proceed at your own risk.

I'm glad I waited until today to write this, because frankly I was so upset last night I'd probably have posted gibberish and possibly even some words that would make you want to avert your eyes. However, waiting means that while my thoughts are (a bit) clearer, they've also been numbed and I'm not sure I'll be able to even post what's really on my mind. It feels like my thoughts are surrounded by a thick layer of cotton (thank you self-defense mechanism) and now I'm barely able to latch onto them to get them into words articulately.

Nothing major is wrong in my life, no worries there. Well, that's not exactly true, but compared to so many people, I'm doing just fine. No, the problem is with a few of the blogs I've read regularly for ages, tragedies I don't understand, and unanswered prayers. The one step forward a million steps back? That's me, spiritually speaking. I do NOT get God, and I'm lost. Simply lost.

It has been brewing in me for quite awhile, but exploded last night when I read of the loss of the12 year old son of a blogger I have read for ages. Always, death hurts worse when it's sudden and completely unexpected, and couple that with the fact that he was my daughters age and, well, I lose it totally. Very close to home, know what I mean? Last night when I read of the tragedy I literally sobbed off and on for hours and raged against God. I was devastated. Not because I knew him, I didn't. Never met his blogger mom either. No, I was devastated because I know that the family is Christian, in actions and not just words. I know they've probably prayed multitudes of times for their son's safety and protection. Yet, he died anyway. Drowned.

Why? Why were their prayers discarded, unanswered? Oh, I know the right words to say. God's plan. Sovereignty. Bigger picture. But still, it begs the question: why do we pray at all then?

What about the promises of answered prayer in the Bible? If God already has a set plan, what's the use asking Him for anything? Either it's in the plan or it isn't. We don't get a say, apparently.

And how do I ask God to heal a cold or help me make a decision, when I know He's letting little Ashley (another blog) suffer, despite the prayers of thousands? Other blogs I read: Emerson, Sara, Heather, Jonah, to name just a many prayers being prayed for all of them, yet still so much suffering, unbelievable pain, and death. I know each of these people are being prayed over diligently by hundreds, if not thousands, yet they continue to suffer do I find the faith within myself that somehow God is going to find ME worthy of answered prayer? How do I trust Him to save me from my afflictions, when He obviously isn't doing that for them?

Please understand, I know how this sounds and I know all the stock answers, but I just don't care right now, I just don't. I don't see God answering prayers, I just see Him letting everyone down. And you know what? If that's who He is, a God who is sovereign who has a plan for us that contains both good and bad, and that He is going to let that plan play out regardless of our pleading and petitions, that is fine. I can get my head around that. BUT. Don't you tell me that He answers prayers of faith and will change His plan accordingly. Because my eyes are telling me differently.

I am angry. SO very angry. So angry in fact that I just deleted a few paragraphs that would probably send any Christians reading this away from my blog forever. I'm just struggling here. I have always struggled with the bigger questions, even as a child, and apparently I always will. Because I'm always questioning, I've never found much faith within myself, to be honest, and I suppose that's why I'm so easily shaken when others aren't. I have also always had an unusually high level of empathy for other people and their situations, and some time ago I realized that's probably a character trait given to me by God, ironically. In situations like this, it almost destroys me. I can hardly breathe.

I can't pray like regular people. Oh, I talked to God last night, if that's what you want to call it. (I yelled at Him for the longest time. Thank goodness I was home alone!) But regular, everyday prayer is so difficult for me. I. DO. NOT. TRUST. GOD. There, I said it. I don't trust Him! How do I pray to Him?

Sorry to put all this yuck out there on you. I really am. I am just so disillusioned, so angry, so hurt. I want to be like other people who trust God through all things, but I am just not. I want to believe He hears and answers prayer, but I just don't right now. And frankly, I'm not sure what to do about any of it. Please know that I don't expect answers from you, I wouldn't put that responsibility onto anyone. Just trying to work through some bone-deep issues here, and it might get ugly. Please, look away if you want to. I wish I could.


  1. I wish there was any easy answer to make it all make sense. I can give you the stock answers like you said but you've heard it all - God is in control, He'll make good come of the bad, sin is in the world and we have freewill...but all of those answers, while true, don't take away the pain when something bad happens. Some things really just don't make sense to us.

    I'm so sorry that you're suffering and that these other families are suffering. I wish I could bring comfort but just know that I'm here for anything I am able to do and that I wouldn't stop reading because of any of these feelings. There's nothing wrong with them. And God is a big boy - He can handle it. ;) I'm reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan right now and he even touches on something like this. He talks about how God doesn't want us to be lukewarm - but be either hot or cold (based on Revelation). God would rather have you angry and talking to Him than to be complacent and ignoring that He's even there.

    I don't know if any of that helps or just makes it worse. I hope it at least didn't make it worse. I think it's great that you share this though and that you were willing to be completely honest. I think that's a very healthy thing to do and can be very cathartic. I pray that God will speak to you and show you something that you need to get through this easier.

    Love ya!!

  2. I'm with Donetta.

    I don't know what to think about prayer, either. It seems, in reality, to be about maintaining relationship, and often about helping us metabolize our own feelings and gain perspective and stuff like that. It doesn't often seem to achieve the results that are claimed for it -- even as Jesus said, if you pray in x way, you'll get what you want. Why did he say that if that's not true?

    I have issues trusting God, too. Wrote a song about it. Basically, God claims to love and be good, but evidence seems to contradict it -- how do I know he's not some poser benevolent dictator tyrant type, twisting what good and love even mean... and then looking at Romans 8.

  3. Thanks ladies. Just glad I can post this type of thing without anyone throwing bricks at me, know what I mean?

  4. Yeah -- sometimes it feels hard to find the non-brick-throwers, or the non-shocked-expressioners. One of the most helpful things anyone's said to me is "God is not shocked."

  5. My daughter asked me the same thing about prayer the other day, and I didn't really know how to answer her. God IS sovereign. But if you look at the historical record in the Bible as a whole, you see time and time again where he relented. He changed his mind. Jesus told us the story about the persistent friend who kept on knocking.

    Still. We can knock on the door until our knuckles bleed, and God is still God. My daughter can beg for another cookie until she loses her voice, but I"m still mom and have the prerogative to say no...for her own good.

    It's still okay to pray (and I think yelling out loud to God is preferable to him than just repeating stale memorized platitudes) -- but our prayers are pleas to the King. He'll either grant them, or He won't. It's hard to wrap my mind around. And yes, it does make me angry when I don't understand.

    I don't know if this helps, but I will be praying for you to grow close to God through your struggle!