“Faith” sounds so strong and sure. It’s one of those terms that, for many, conjurs up images of heroic bravery. But when you hit a rough patch in life, and we all do, faith suddenly takes on a different tone. The natural emotions that go along with things like: a hurting child, a diagnosis, a loss, a financial drought, a relationship that just isn’t getting better, and a million other circumstances, somehow make the idea of having “faith” pretty muddy.
I used to admire people who faced life crises with a smile that implied that they’re really fine because they “have faith”. But the longer I live, the more I have to believe that putting our arms around the concept of faith does not automatically remove us from the pain and disappointment life brings. Thank God, faith isn’t about feeling. It isn’t even about us. It’s about an unchanging God who really, really (REALLY) loves us enough to let us process the pain and disappointment while keeping us drawn to His side through it all.
I don’t believe for one moment that denial honors the Savior who mourned over our sin and literally gave his lifeblood to redeem it. He is stronger than sin. So I am confident He can handle our emotions – the anger, the sadness, the guilt, the questions – ALL of them, because he has felt all those same feelings (yes, even guilt… because He carried OURS).
I’ve heard a million times, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.. the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrew 11:1) But what’s easy to forget is that HE is that substance. Not some little human feeling that we conjur up …or fail to conjur up, in many cases. If drawing near Him in crisis doesn’t feel all warm and gooey, I have a hard time believing that means our faith isn’t good enough or big enough. I even wonder if maybe it’s the strongest faith of all that can literally crawl to Him and say… “I don’t get this. So just hold me.” To really have “faith” in an Almighty God, I can’t imagine we would be required to clean up our feelings and put them in a tightly sealed box that looks neat but is brimming with resentment or uncried tears.
Faith that truly trusts in His character is bold enough to ask hard questions… to be honest about our pain… and to know that our human range of emotions will never, NEVER shock Him into withholding His love from us. He has seen and felt it all. Authentic faith, I believe, has enough confidence in Him to be completely transparent… knowing He isn’t going anywhere.