I received a message from someone yesterday in response to my last post, sharing their heart about how they have given up on God, and feel overlooked and forgotten about by Him as their family struggled, and were disappointed in the church as a whole for not helping them in their time of need.
And boy, this stopped me in my tracks as my heart ached for them remembering a time I too gave up on God, and church, as well. I don’t think there’s anything more painful than walking through those seasons (and often can be years and years) praying, praying, praying, seeing God bless others with the answer to your prayer, and feeling completely overlooked and forgotten about. For 5 years, I walked around in this similar season struggling with everything inside of me to keep having hope and faith that God would pull me from the heartache that consumed my every thought. I was good at hiding it, I was good at putting a mask on around others, but deep down, I struggled and questioned everything I believed in… including if God was truly good, why was I feeling so let down by Him? Where was He in the midst of my tears? How could a good Heavenly Father first take my earthly father, then take my ability to carry on my bloodline? I struggled monthly wavering from “I believe I believe I believe” to yet, another let down of dreams unfulfilled in my journey to become a mother. While we each have different struggles that break our heart, those 5 years were my most gut-wrenching season that challenged, and ultimately deepened, my walk of faith.
And more days than not, it wasn’t pretty. Behind the scenes, I had so many mad at God moments pulling away from Him. I went through seasons of just being so furious. I’ll never forget the day after a very expensive fertility treatment, I got the call from the doctor that my blood work came back and I was… still… not… pregnant. Feeling completely numb, I marched upstairs, grabbed the box of baby items I had been buying in faith over the years, and threw the box down the stairs screaming at God that I gave up on Him. For the 11 weeks that followed, I didn’t want to talk to Him, I didn’t want to go to church and fake smile to others like “God is so good” when I was crumbling inside questioning if He even really was. I was absolutely numb, feeling so overlooked and forgotten about.
But now on the other side, I look back and am grateful for those broken seasons because those are where I learned the truest lessons of what faith truly is. I learned a few things about Jesus during that wilderness season that I want to now share with you. Friend, I see the brokeness inside of you, for I once too felt it, and I pray the below can give you hope as you walk in your own wilderness season before reaching your promised land (and how beautiful it truly is once we finally finally reach it!). I am no where close to being a theologian, but as someone who has experienced immense heartbreak desperately trying to cling to His word during the hardest seasons of disappointment, and made it through to the other side, these are truths I have learned from ultimately not giving up on God.
- Giving up can be the best place for you to be. Most of my greatest breakthroughs came first in those tear-filled on my knees moments of surrender (and there was more than one moment). Screaming through tears that I couldn’t do life on my own anymore, that I needed Him more than ever, that I didn’t understand the fog in front of my eyes, but that He saw the bigger picture and I wanted to see it too (Mark 8:35).
- He doesn’t speak through fireworks or big grand gestures. He speaks through His word, through fasting, when we draw close, not when we’ve pushed Him away (2 Samuel 7:28). Though we want Him to be shouting at us through a microphone in the moments where we are most disappointed in His silence, I have found it was always when I took a step, then another step, toward Him that He spoke to my heart the loudest.
- He always takes us back. No matter how mad we’ve been at Him, no matter how much we’ve fought our belief in Him, no matter how many Sundays we didn’t spend in church. He is always waiting to embrace us, forgive us, and comfort us in our greatest times of heartbreak (Psalm 34:18).
- He can be trusted. This one can be super hard to believe when in the mist of the heartbreak, but I have learned, sometimes God’s “no” is simply “not yet” or “I’ve got something better.” But first, we must keep trusting, even if everything inside of us is fighting to do so. (Proverbs 3:5)
- The church is not perfect, because the church is not Jesus Himself. Yes, I believe it’s important to be plugged into a community of believers to do life with, and different churches have beautifully poured into my heart in different seasons, but because the church is made up of humans who mess up daily, the church will never be perfect. Jesus is the only perfect one. While going to church is so important to continue learning and growing in our faith, we must not put our hope in the church or members of the church to save us, but only in Jesus Himself who is our true Savior (Acts 4:12).
- Jesus keeps His promises. Maybe you haven’t been given a specific promise from the Lord, but His word is full of so many more other promises. His word is full of so many truths about yourself that are being clouded by big lies the enemy is filling your head with at this moment (keyword: at this moment). Confusion and doubt and worry and… disbelief… are the enemy’s greatest weapons to winning. But the good news is, inside each of us, through His Holy Spirit, we have the power to tell the enemy to FLEE in the name of Jesus (my momma reminds me of this one almost daily!). Because Jesus gave His life so that you may know true life and has promised you that He would be your savior. Jesus has promised you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus has promised you that He will always be your comforter as He counts your tears. Jesus has not promised that this life would be easy or that disappointment would not exist. But He has promised that His plans for you are good, that ALL things work for the good of those who love Him, AND, that He keeps His promises. (2 Peter 3:9)
- Seasons change. Just as summer turns to fall, and fall turns to winter, new life is brought forth in the spring (and thank goodness because I can’t seem to keep any flowers alive in my yard!). And new hope will be brought forth in a new season, if you keep seeking His heart. Keep taking steps of faith, keep believing even when everything inside of you is telling you to stop. God might feel silent in this season, but He has not given up on you. One day, and I pray it’s this side of Heaven, you will be able to look back and see His purpose in the silent waiting. For He always has a purpose beyond what we can ever comprehend or understand in the midst of the trial. And thankfully, His love is steadfast and His mercies are new every morning (Lamenttions 3:22-23):
A few resources I recommend below. I remember in that waiting season, the last thing I wanted to turn to was the Bible, so if you are feeling that way right now, I recommend watching these two movies about questioning where God is in the midst of heartbreak.
The Shack (also a book if you prefer to read)
Both of these two movies shook me to the core and helped me gain some good perspective on what can feel like such heavy topics of faith, especially if you are questioning your faith in the first place. I hope they can bring you encouragement too and answers those lingering questions in your heart better than I could squeeze into a blog entry.