Faith in Grief

So here I am writing my first post, and I never thought it’d be about this. I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for years now, but with two littles (one that only until recently started taking naps), I’m just not that person who has been able to sit down to write, no matter how many ideas I had.

But recently, my friend’s father died unexpectedly, tragically, and shockingly, when he got hit by a car while on his way home from work (he was driving a motorcycle). And that event has challenged my faith, and my idea of what having faith is…

I don’t know about you, but for me, it seems like faith is always described as “believing in something even when you can’t see it”. A frequent story told to depict this is that of “Doubting Thomas”, the apostle Thomas who refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he could see Jesus himself and put his hands in Jesus’ wounds. The call to action then is to believe not as Thomas did, who needed physical proof, but to believe without seeing.

I feel like I’ve been on this path of spiritual growth the past few years, but I still have a long way to go. I think too much. I’ve never doubted the fundamentals (I have my parents to thank for that), but it’s the nitty gritty that gets me. Things you probably don’t ever think about until you’re older (if you’re lucky) and you hear of stories and circumstances, are faced with personal challenges, etc.

So at my friend’s father’s funeral, my friend, his sister, his brother-in-law, and mother all gave their eulogies. The mother was last. It was all hard to hear of course because this was a special man. A genuinely good man with a heart of gold who married his high school sweetheart, put his family first, was adored by his grandkids, and respected and liked by his peers. A sports fan who wasn’t shy of yelling at the tv. So many beautiful qualities in a man who was taken away far too soon. And I’ll admit, though it may seem selfish, what made it even harder was that it all sounded like my dad.

So I’m sitting there trying to process it all… why did God let this happen? How do I not live in fear of something like this happening to my family? How would I deal with such a thing if it happened to me? Would I survive it?… and the daughter finishes her eulogy and proceeds to read her mother’s on her behalf. And at the very end, her mother had written that though this is an extremely difficult time, with her faith and her family, she will get through it.

That struck me.

To specifically mention that she will get through this, as if to say, don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay, took me by surprise. I mean, in essence, she was trying to comfort us by saying that.  Imagine, HER comforting us?! And then saying that it is her FAITH and family that will allow her to do so… it all really resonated with me. First, I admire her beyond words. Second, I wondered if I’d be able to face such a loss the same way. Would my faith be enough? The same faith where we pray to God to ask for His protection, the one in which we are supposed to trust in Him and not live in fear. That faith. And yet, even in light of what happened, she wasn’t reproaching God. How could she get there?

And then it got me going down this rabbit hole of thinking of others who have had such difficult losses. Specifically, of Anna Whiston-Donaldson, a wife and mother who lost her son at the young age of 12 in 2011 when he drowned in the neighborhood creek in a freak storm. I found her blog some years ago and have had her on my mind ever since. She’s doing really well now actually, she just had a baby believe it or not! (Please check out her blog, An Inch of Gray. she’s an amazing writer and her story is truly inspiring and filled with hope. She also wrote a New York Times bestseller about the loss of her son called Rare Bird). 

And in all my thoughts, questions, and doubts, I realized something. Faith isn’t just believing in something you can’t see. It’s more than that. Harder than that. It’s believing in God’s promises to us even when bad things happen. And that’s where I struggle. I won’t ever doubt the existence of God, or that He is good, or that He loves us. But somehow, I can’t get the idea of not being afraid/trusting in Him to mesh with the fact that shit happens. And to good people.

Something I have learned from others who have faced such tragic loss but have done it with faith, is that Jesus is with us every step of the way. He’s there in the suffering, in the darkness right by our side. And if we take His hand, He is the one who will lead us into the light. But we have to take it. And though this is comforting, I’m not quite there with relinquishing all fear and truly trusting in Him.

I’m trying though.

Image that appeared on Anna's phone when she plugged it in to charge two weeks after the accident. (Copied from her blog post.)

Image that appeared on Anna’s phone when she plugged it in to charge two weeks after the accident. (Copied from her blog post.)

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