She was sobbing, her face blotched red, her blond hair gone wild, her body slumped. She was sitting on my porch bench, her head bent low over tear splats darkening the blue-painted floor.

“That’s all I wanted…,” she choked out between sobs. “I always thought…”

…always thought it would be just like her mom and dad for them, “till death us do part,” grow old together, never such betrayal, such wrenching pain.

And we sat on that bench together, and prayed. Well, I did the praying, the talk part, and it was anything but eloquent: “Lord, [hesitation]… Lord, we don’t know what we’re doing…”

Then the stress of all the pain and confusion and bewildered crying “Why?” gave way, from sheer exhaustion, to broken, mixed-up grief-laughter. And we grief-laughed and friend-prayed together a near incoherent prayer for help amid “we-don’t-know”s…

A giant pilgrim step from where we were an hour or so before, us sequestered upstairs—right beside my prayer window, in fact, but we weren’t sitting there praying, we were wrestling off a violent attack of utter unbelief.

I’d mentioned God, something about God, and she had answered in dead tone, “I don’t know if I even believe in God.”

I gasped. These words from her mouth! It stunned me, knocked me into silence, where no answers hid, no clever theology or gospel re-presentation or trite truism. I was just there, I had to leave it where it was right then, that instant agnosticism, born of her own shock, disbelief at the death blow to what she’d believed a lifelong certainty. This couldn’t be happening, so what was reality?

Somehow in the talking out, the dumping down on the bedroom floor, all the bruising, breath-stealing pounding of the necessary echoing the thing had to do in her head, her heart, before actuality could push its way through… Somehow, slowly, half-inch by half-inch, she dragged one thought up to the next, and God wedged Himself into the chaos, and so, by the time we were back downstairs and out to that porch bench, her heart was praying along with my inarticulation…

And she survived—that cruel day and a lot of other cruel days and weeks and months to follow. But more than survived.

Fast forward years. We were driving home from hearing Joni Erickson Tada speak—speak from the wheelchair she spends her life in, since that diving accident drove her down, down, from her ho-hum Christianity to the pit of such despair she’d begged her best friend to smother out her life… then up, slowly up, to the glow of joy in Christ that shown out now around her from the epicenter of her smile, all over that audience.  

We’d visited that place not long before, and heard Jill Kelly speak: of her own world getting brutally “wrecked,” how it drove her to the Jesus she’d have nothing to do with before… And we’d seen another smile then that kept glowing unrepressed like sunlight, despite the ongoing tragedy…

And I asked my friend, When in your life did your faith grow most? 

And I think you can guess. Same kind of time as when mine grew, when my world crashed.

God lets life break us. Then picks up the pieces. And puts them back together, but now in a stained-glass window, that His light shines beautiful grace through. He knows what will grow faith. 

It’s about Him: He’s the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2 NIV).


Linked to…

Beholding Glory  

7 thoughts on “What Grows Faith

  1. What a powerful testimony to God’s redeeming grace. Your words speak such truth. It is when our lives come crashing down that we experience His presence in a way unlike ever before.

    1. You know this, Denise, I can tell. Sad but true that we (I anyhow) don’t really “get it” until we go through some of that crashing. Then the joy comes, in the morning! Thank you for visiting. God bless.

  2. Oh, yes, so beautiful! And so true! It’s always in the aching that I grow closest to Him. The hard things make me realize how desperately I need Him, how much I need to depend on Him and not myself. Oh, if only I could trust like that when it’s just as easy not to! So much still to learn. Thank you for these words today. So beautiful, so true.

    1. Laura and Mary,
      Thank you for your kind encouragement. And yes, what a struggle it is for us to trust Him! But each baby step leads us to more evidence of His trustworthiness, and then we can take another baby step. Still learning here, too!

  3. Oh, how I needed to read this today, God surely led me here through Anne’s blog. Thank you for sharing this, as my world has crashed once again…..

    1. Oh, Erin, immediately on reading this I hurt, ache, for you, whatever the crashing is… then think, “But Lord, this is how you deepen us in our walk with You as we throw ourselves back into Your arms, how You give us the fellowship of Your suffering…” It’s just that I know how the feelings overwhelm… Praying that God in His time turns your grief into joy that may not even seem possible right now, and that you may, above all, sense His presence with you through your trying time.

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