I just read an article by Marshall Shelley in Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and was struck by several things. He is discussing how the loss of his children has affected his faith over many years. And I can’t help but reflect on how my faith has changed over the last 12 years.
Shelley says, “…innocent faith can trust God because it hasn’t seen the abyss; virtuous faith has known the terror and chooses to trust God.”
I started out with a very innocent faith. Nothing very bad happened in my childhood. We were healthy and safe, didn’t know any people who divorced. I knew one family that lost a child, but since I was a child myself, I didn’t understand the agony of those parents.
Then, 12 years ago, my dad died. He was a man of great faith. He lived out God’s command to be His hands and feet on this earth. And to watch him die young, was heartbreaking and confusing. Why in the world would God not want him here, continuing to make such a difference for His kingdom? Reaching out to the lost and hurting that others ignored?
Since my dad’s death, I have had 2 miscarriages and a crumbling marriage that eventually ended in divorce.
And I learned.
Being taken to your knees by this life brings you to a crossroads. You can let it harden your heart or you can turn to the One who can make beauty out of our ashes. The One who sees the whole picture and KNOWS why His plan included all these hard things. The One whose plan included sending his own son to die for us. The only One who can know us completely and love us unconditionally at the same time.
I see how my prayers have changed. I still pray for provision and protection and specific needs. But I also find myself praying for His will to be done. I used to fight against that. I wanted to change His will if it didn’t coincide with mine. Now I know He has plans so much greater and bigger than mine and I am so grateful for it. Some situations I just can’t even imagine what to pray for. In my humanity, I can’t possibly see a good outcome. I don’t see any options. But I don’t need to see any options, because I know the One who sees it all. So I go to my knees and bring my concerns to Him. And tell Him, Please, just do Your will. Please use this situation for your glory and our good, as You promised you would. Please use it to lead others to you.
Choosing faith isn’t easy. But it comes with great hope. Hope for our future on earth. Hope for our eternal future in heaven. Hope founded on the only One who is totally trustworthy and loving and good.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That is a promise we can put our full weight into.
If we let it, going through the valleys and storms of this life can do something amazing in us. It allows us to choose unshakeable faith.