I have never doubted God’s faithfulness more than in the past six months. His goodness, His promises, His purposes, have never seemed further. They have felt laughable—insulting, even—in the face of some of the most severe hurt I have ever experienced. The chiseling doesn’t feel like a masterpiece-in-the-making, it feels like a painful surgery leaving me with a hardened heart and debilitating limp. This wrestling is not beautiful, it is not able to be summarized in a pretty caption I can plaster on social media. It is dark, it is confusing, it has pushed me to my lowest lows and deepest doubts. The silence I have perceived from God has left me in tremendous anger, and enormous fear, with grace nowhere in sight.
If Jesus is who He says He is, and He did what He said He came to do, why am I so blind to hope? If God is as powerful as He claims to be, why can’t He just override my crippling disbelief? I have had to ask for a soft heart from an intensely hard-hearted space. I have had to pray for gospel truth to stop feeling like paper-thin lies the church feeds me to subdue me into being “content in all things,”—for truth to start actually feeling true. It has been no easy thing.
Friends, I share this hard reality in the sole hope that my deepest discouragements will be encouraging for someone. It is okay to feel this way. It is okay to yell at God, it is okay to have prayers that are full of nothing but tears and cursing and questions. It is okay to be actively redeemed and actively disappointed. I believe that when Paul calls us to begin “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” it can look like this. Working out a faith that calls us to trust when it feels impossible, and endure when it feels like it’s already over, often looks like a lot of fear, and a lot of trembling. We walk out on the tightrope that is stretched out over the abyss of our deepest anxieties, extending into the fog, angry that God has called us to this flimsy rope instead of building a robust bridge for us. Maybe some can walk this tightrope with immense grace and poise, but I have been shakily stepping out each day, yelling at God for making this so hard. To quote JS Park,
“I imagine that when Moses split the Red Sea, there were two groups of people. The first group was composed of victorious triumphant warriors […] The second group was composed of doubtful, panicking screamers running full speed through whales and plankton. I’m a Screamer. I’m a cynic. I’m a critic. I’m a Peter, who can make a good start off the boat, but falls in the water when my eyes wander. […] Yet the Warriors and Screamers all made it through.”
Lately, it has been hard for me to say in complete confidence that God has good plans. At my worst (which is the only place I have found myself lately), I do not trust His timing, I do not trust His goodness, I do not trust His sufficiency. I repent and relapse and retry day after day after day.
Yet, with a mustard-seed-sized whisper, I can still proclaim that He is here. I still know, in the depths of my soul, that my future is far better off in His hands than in my own. I can still believe, with the finest shred, with the smallest fiber of belief I have left, that He is enough. The miracle here is not that I have a tiny granule of faith left. It is that this tiny granule is the only amount faith He needs to move a mountain.
I am learning how to say this monumental “yet:”
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
– Habakkuk 3:17-18