I have never been a big fan of the “paste a smile on and pretend it’s okay” club. In my case it was months after my son, Noah’s, death that I began to feel angry. I had to return to work and the crushing unfairness of it all began to sink in. I used to think that people of true faith accepted everything quietly and calmly, but now I’m not so sure.
I wrestled with God for several months.
My husband was afraid that he would never get his wife back. If anyone saw me walking in the woods behind our house, they must have thought I was crazy — I was muttering, crying, even shouting at God. I read books in the Bible that dealt with people who were suffering — Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations — and was reassured that some of God’s favorite people were angry and confused by him. The best advice I got was that giving God the silent treatment would only punish me. God can take it, so tell him what you are feeling.
How can I have faith you ask? I’ll try to answer you as best I can. My husband is a scholar and he finds reassurance in philosophical arguments about truth, the state of the world and the nature of God. I’ll admit that these truths are convincing and I would be happy to share some with you if you like, but in crisis my faith was not bolstered by academic points so I won’t get into them now.
First I must explain my faith to you, so that you know what I am choosing to rely on.
I do believe with my whole heart that God is good and the world is not. The Bible is clear that because of our choices to reject God we live in a fallen world full of sickness, natural disasters, pain, and death. This is not God’s purpose for humanity — he wants us to live with him where there is no pain, no sadness, no death. In order to make this happen he made the greatest sacrifice, he sent His own son to die, to pay the price for our wrong choices (it is hard to imagine that he loves us so much that he would allow his son to die — on purpose). When Jesus rose from the dead three days later he destroyed forever the power of death over the human soul. Still, we must choose to accept or reject this gift. That is the faith I have.
I trust in Jesus to pay for my wrongs and to save me from death.
Especially since Noah’s death, this hope is my foundation. I know that one day I will see not only Jesus but my son again. I would rather he was with me, but since he is not I am so glad that he is safe and loved. For this reason I hold onto my faith.
Not only that, but my faith in Jesus is about relationship. Like I said, I have been angry with him. I will never be happy that my son is away from me (even temporarily). I miss him terribly. There is a hole in our family and in my heart that aches. But God does know how we feel. He lost his son too. And he has made it so clear to me that he loves me more than I can comprehend. This comfort did not come quickly or easily. Slowly, in so many ways — through reading the bible, praying (even angry and despairing prayers), through nature, through others around me — God put his arms around me and helped my broken heart to heal. He was there all along I just had to open up to him.
To live without faith seems to me a hopeless, comfortless and pointless existence.
So I hold on, even when I don’t feel like it. This is how I have faith, not a feeling or an experience, but a decision. As Job said “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” I can’t imagine life without Jesus. Holding onto faith has been a struggle, but to live without it, is unthinkable.
You also have a choice to make. Faith is not something you lose, it’s something you choose or reject. I’m sorry to say that anyone who has lost a child has a very long and hard journey ahead of them. Grief is exhausting, messy, and misunderstood. Anger and confusion are normal and healthy (only if you get stuck there for an extended amount of time will you need to worry and seek medical help). If you have lost a child, be patient with yourself, you are in mourning. Do not rely on your feelings to decide what you believe. Look ahead — what kind of life do you want? Who do you want to be?
I would not trade my Noah for a child that lived.
I would not have chosen this path, it has been hard and painful, but it has changed me for the better. I am forever grateful to my son for that.
If you have lost a child, know that you are not alone. I can’t tell you why your child is gone, but I can tell you that there is a God who loves you and who loves your child. He knows what it means to lose a son.
Are you struggling with a sadness that never seems to end? We are here to talk.
Related Reading: 10 Things I Learned from my Daughter's Suicide