The new year has begun, many have returned to work & resolutions have been made. This is the time to look forward, but it has also allowed me to look back, reflecting on 2014, a year of heartache, perseverance & unexpected joy.
On January 19th 2014 my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack. No words could ever to justice to describing the pain my family and I experienced that day, nor will I try to articulate it here. However, I would like to share my thoughts on the past year & how grief transformed my faith.
I would love to say that throughout this year I have known God’s faithfulness & presence. Unfortunately, I felt like God was often absent.
“But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” C. S. Lewis.
Grief manifests in different forms and a range of emotions. Perhaps the most difficult is feeling profoundly alone & hopeless, no matter how many people you have around you. Unable to feel the presence of God at these difficult times, I often felt like abandoning my faith, in some ways this felt like the easier option. Easier than wrestling with the dilemma that the God I had loved and trusted allowed my father to die & who now seemed to be silent.
I have spent much time thinking & reading about the different theories that theologians have used to explain why suffering happens. Honestly, I have not found a satisfactory answer, nor do I think we will ever find one. Unsurprisingly, theories and explanations do not ease the pain.
“When pain is to be born, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
People do help. I have never doubted or lacked the loving support of friends & family. Even in times when I felt alone, I never have been. Whether that was my compassionate god daughter taking me on adventures, generous friends giving up their time to help clear out my dad’s house or those who just sat with me in silence, being with me & perhaps praying for me in the times I felt I couldn’t.
In the initial weeks after my dad passed away, I expected to sense the presence & love of God in prayer, worship or during a church service. This rarely happened. In hindsight, I can see that God was not absent, but instead was working powerfully through the people around me.
Keeping my faith has not been easy this year. I have been extremely angry with God, prayer has been an uphill battle and I have tried, unsuccessfully, to run away from Him many times. Faith has been a conscious decision. I chose to believe & hold on to what I knew was true, despite my changing emotions. The biggest challenge this year was learning to say ‘God is good’ even when everything within me disagreed.
God remained faithful and through all of this, He was with me. God though sometimes silent, had never abandoned me. He has transformed & deepened my faith through the pain. I do not understand all of God’s ways, but I do trust Him. Of course, I would give up this transformation in a heartbeat to have my Dad back, but that is not the situation I am faced with.
In an interview this week I was asked to describe how I handled an emotionally difficult time. After explaining a little of my journey and how I got through the past year, I found myself saying these words, “I am blessed.” And I meant it. Though heartbreaking, this year has also been one of growing friendships, new adventures & unexpected joy.
Finally, I would like to say thank you. To those incredible people that God chose to work through this year. You have walked alongside me & without you, and the way you showed me the love of God, I am not sure I would have made it.