Monday, July 12, 2010

Jesus Saves My Faith

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a great struggle between you and God? I’m talking about that anguished-gut-wrenching-maddening-tear-jerking-pull-your-hair-outta-your-head-frustrated-crawling-in-the-dirt-I-don’t-understand-whatsoever kind of struggle. Ever been there?


Well, I certainly have. There have been times I've had a lot of deeply raw questions and disappointments that might even make some drop a jaw too. And there have been times that I have seriously re-evaluated my faith, pondering why I believe what I do and if it’s really enough to help me endure everything I go through. I must say that physical long-suffering will drive you to question everything you have ever believed at some point. It has a way of drawing out those deep nagging doubts. I must also say that I don’t think I’m alone in this kind of struggle; in the questioning and pondering of faith. I think a lot of people feel exactly the same way, particularly when their lives have been rocked by some deep tragedy, suffering, or loss.

Why is there so much tragedy and suffering? And how is it that we seem to be growing accustomed to it all? Think about some of the worst tragedies of our time: the 1994 Rwandan genocide; the 1999 Columbine High School massacre; the September 11, 2001 tragedy; the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina; the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings; the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China; the 2009 Air France passenger jet crash; and more recently this year, the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in January and the Gulf oil spill that is still ongoing.

It’s a lot easier to find resolve and move on from a loss or tragedy that does not affect us directly. But what about our own personal tragedies? What about those things that affect us where we are in our daily living? The death of a loved one; a debilitating chronic illness; childhood sexual abuse; homelessness, adultery; poverty; injustice; loss of livelihood; betrayal; rape; depression; barrenness; disability; addiction; domestic violence; rejection; miscarriage; incarceration; dark family secrets.

These are but a few of the realities many of us live with. People might know about them and they might not. Nevertheless, it’s what causes us pain at the very core of our being. It's what weighs heavily on our hearts and keeps us awake at night.

As a follower of Christ, I have always believed in a benevolent God; a God of goodness. I’ve always believed that He is sovereign and has a purpose for each of our lives.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about why God permitted my suffering in the first place; pondering what it’s accomplishing for the greater good and how I can help others as a result of it. But there are still times its just plain difficult to so neatly explain it all. The truth is, no one can entirely understand the depth of suffering I've lived with all of these years; or of all that I have had to give up. And so it is for everyone who suffers a personal tragedy and whose life is forever changed by it.

We ask ourselves if anyone really cares that our world has been torn apart. More so, we ask and wonder if God really cares.

We hold tightly onto the anticipation of something better but instead; we find our circumstances unchanging or even growing worse. One thing piles on top of another, and then we start to wonder why our real-life experiences with God are so very different from our perceptions and expectations of Him. Now how do we fit that into our tidy little boxes?

So I’ll be blunt but honest.

In the deepest depths of my struggle, I think God to be cold, distant, apathetic, and uncaring. That He sits away off in the heavenlies somewhere, watching, while I fight to get through my days; that He observes as tragedies unfold on planet earth, clearly able to do something about it, but choosing not to intervene.

In my deepest of struggles, I feel hurt, angry, disappointed, and forgotten by God. I really feel at a loss for understanding. I question why I've ever held onto a faith that seems to let me down. I'm frustrated and confused because I am obedient to what He asks; because I stand on the promises of God but the promises never come. And then I think I must be a total fool for believing in such a good God and for holding out all hope that He will give me beauty for ashes.

Now some might think my words quite harsh but for those who have suffered, for those left battered, bruised and broken, I know you can relate.

Honestly, I would believe these things about God were it not for Jesus. I would just ditch the whole thing were it not for Him. I mean what would be the use otherwise? There'd be nothing but empty, rigid, legalistic, meaningless religion.

This is how I see it.

Jesus gives God a personal face. He steps out from behind the enigmatic veil to show us the realness of who God is. And He is not mechanical or formulaic or programmatic. Rather Jesus is deeply personal and relational; He wants to know us and us to know Him. He wants a genuine relationship and union with us.

He didn’t just come down to experience humanity or point out how awful we are. He came to rescue us because He loves us. He came because we were in need of Him to do what we could not, nor cannot, do for ourselves.

When I think about Jesus, and read about Him in the Gospels, I feel like there's finally someone who gets what it feels like to suffer so much; that there is somebody who relates to me one-on-one and cares deeply about every facet of my life.

He makes me feel I can trust Him with my aching heart and that I can share my deepest feelings with Him and He won’t judge me. And Jesus won’t lecture me because I’m not being theologically correct. In fact, He reminds me I will only find truth in Him and not in the institution of religion.

He gives clarity to my foggy conceptions. He helps me to see how I sometimes confuse God the Father with people. How, although I cannot understand the totality of my circumstances nor of God Himself, it is important for me to talk to Him, the Son because Jesus knows the Father better than anyone. And He would never mislead me or give me false hope.

He reminds me what love in action really looks like and how He demonstrated that on the Cross - just for me. And He reminds me He doesn't love me then leave me but that He’s with me always and I can never really go from His presence.

He reminds me He’s bigger than I think or imagine Him to be and that His thoughts towards me are for good. He points out He's compassionate and gracious; that He is faithful in all He does. He also points out my human, time-constrained perspective is limited but that His eternal perspective is not. And that everything He does has eternal value.

And I’m suddenly relieved to realize He’s the real deal.

He's not a drill sergeant version; He's not a circus version; He's not a pop culture version and He's not even a churchy version. But He is Jesus, the Christ; the Redeemer, the Great Shepherd. He’s the friend of a wounded heart.

God knows we all struggle at times. Even in our walk with Him.

He knew in advance the doubts, frustrations, and questions I'd have about Him, my life, my faith, and my circumstances. And He knew the wide gamut of emotions that come with seeking out the answers to such questions and frustrations.

He knew.

He knows.

So Jesus came to synthesize it all. He came, not to necessarily give me (or you) all the answers to everything I long to know and perhaps not even to take the struggle away but instead; He came to mesh all the pieces together.

He came to take everything ~ all of my dreams and disappointments; all my joys and sorrows; my hopes and fears; my losses, setbacks, accomplishments, mistakes, triumphs, tears and laughter; all that makes sense and all that does not; the good, the bad and the ugly ~ and form them into a meaningful whole.

He came to reconcile me and all the parts of my life through Himself.

And while I might not understand it all now, and perhaps never will in this life, I can look to Jesus and know that He truly has my best interests at heart; that despite my uncertainty, He is certain. Jesus reassures me there is a time and purpose for every season under heaven; that it all matters.


And finally, Jesus reveals to me that He is but a reflection of my Heavenly Father; that everything He is, God the Father is also. And in knowing that, I can feel safe to trust the Father just as I do Him. He bridges the wide chasm between God and me.

Jesus saves my faith.

- Michelle

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2010

(Photo Source: Photobucket)

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful post! Love what you wrote, "He’s the friend of a wounded heart." So true and so wonderful.

    Praying for you and sending a gentle cyber-hug,
    Lisa

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  2. Oh, thank you dear Lisa! He certainly is the friend of wounded hearts!

    I actually wrote this three years ago fresh from a struggle for my church's newsletter (tweaked it just a bit since then). It was honest and transparent and I pray it has brought Him glory!

    Thank you for your prayers and hug! That means so much! And I send a gentle hug right back to you :)

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  3. So glad you found my blog so I could find yours Michelle! You handled this rarely talked about aspect of our faith so authentically! Loved this raw post... and the Jesus who saves my faith too!

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  4. Colleen, I know it's a God-thing anytime we meet someone who speaks to us! And so your blog spoke to me. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Looking forward to reading more of what you have to say!! Thank God for Jesus :)

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  5. Michelle, This is absolutely beautiful and spoken straight from your heart! God Bless you!
    Michelle Eastham

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  6. Wonderful message. You are certainly an inspiration when it comes to persisting in faith despite hardship! God bless! ~ Jason G.

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  7. This truly is a powerful, gripping, brutally honest account of your faith....your courage.....your understanding . Yes, Jesus came to take away the brokenness and give us eternal life. And He truly does reveal to us glimpses of Father God. Again, this is powerful and teaches us....hugs to you.

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