He stood in the pulpit and admitted with a somber expression that he didn't feel like preaching.  His son had passed only weeks before and he was merely gravitating above the pit of despair he had found himself in.  He was real and open and honest about his struggle to keep his head above water.  And then he preached a message declaring the unfailing goodness of God.  I was shocked and convicted.  This man, even with his shaky voice and tear-brimmed eyes, held more faith in his shattered heart than I did.

A little over a month later, I watched her fall apart, huddled in the home of her husband's arms.  I watched as devastation crashed and changed her world.  Fast forward a few weeks and I'm watching her in church with a smile on her face.  Her heart is still broken, I'm sure.  Grief rips us apart and doesn't apologize.  But she's still here and she's still smiling and she's still giving God glory through the pain.  

And I want to stand and scream, "How?!  How can you sit there, knowing what you know and feeling what you feel, and still act as if you love Him just as much today as you did before they died and grief gripped your heart?  What is the secret?  Please tell me."  And my heart screams and throws a fit, but I smile and I whisper, "Praise God," through the tears because I'm happy for these saints and devastated for myself.

Ann Voskamp says, "One life-loss can infect the whole of a life."  And she isn't lying.  When one friend passed in 2012, my world shifted (see Simple Math).  Six months later, another friend passed away unexpectedly.  A month later, two days after my twentieth birthday, my aunt went to sleep and never woke up.  And I am broken.  

This is the tough stuff.  These unanswered questions make or break a faith and I can dig in my heels and refuse to let go or I can throw in the towel and give up everything because I don't understand.  I'll never understand.

But as I examine myself, as I examine the state of my heart in the aftermath of these questions and doubts, one thing remains: I still love Him.  Goodness, do I love Him.  And it's not nearly enough to ever be worthy of Him, but it's enough to wade past the things I don't understand and look for Him instead of answers.  

I am broken and I'll never understand, but I love a God who doesn't owe me any explanations.  

Perhaps the preacher preaches of God's goodness because he loves Him.  Perhaps that love drives him to believe that God is still good, that He is still to be trusted even when He can't be understood.  Perhaps the woman smiles because she loves Him.  Perhaps that love drives her to believe He is still worthy of her praise, even when His ways aren't our ways and His thoughts aren't our thoughts.

Perhaps it is possible to love Him just as much today as I did before they died.  Perhaps, just perhaps, He is still just as good now as He was before they left this life.  How?  Because He is God and He never changes.  He gives, He takes.  Blessed be His name.  

Their time is complete for whatever reason.  Am I honoring their memories by being bitter?  Am I honoring God by withholding my sincerity in exchange for...what?  Their lives?  As if God will see that I'm upset and I mean business, so He'll just give them back?  Everything He does holds purpose.  Ann Voskamp also says, "There's a reason I am not writing the story and God is.  He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means.  I don't."  Amen and amen.      

It's okay to not be okay, to still have questions and still have scars.  It doesn't mean that your faith in God is any less.  I will feel the gut-wrenching pain of loss for the rest of my life.  That doesn't mean I'm a bad Christian and it doesn't mean I don't love God.  It means my heart is a mosaic, that God and life have busted it up.  And He is good and mighty and holy and loving enough to cradle it tenderly in His hands.  Because the beauty of a mosaic, of broken pieces that are glued together, showing imperfect cracks and holes?  Light shines brighter through the imperfections.  

I am imperfect.  I am hurting and I struggle sometimes with the reality that death and pain happen even to the most innocent of people.  But as long as I continue turning that pain, those questions, this broken and bleeding heart, over to God...I'm going to be okay.  

And so are you.  Sometimes, there are things we don't understand.  But He does.  He always does.  And at the end of the day, at the end of this life, it won't be about what we understood.  It will be about the intricate plan He designed, the intricate plan we couldn't see, the intricate plan we could only trust in.       


  1. this one hit straight to the heart.

  2. you use eloquent words to explain how I have felt since losing my daddy and baby sister 6 years ago. I stand now on the brink, my beloved sainted 91 year old mother in law facing cancer surgery in the morning with fear gripping my heart. I wondered if this would be the ultimate test of my salvation (I was saved 8-8-10/baptized a month later) and I am honestly scared. I know the power of anger... seen it too much in my own life and PTL not recently... but I understand being angry at God. spent a very long time there in '08 God Bless you for sharing your innermost feelings... maybe now I can deal with my own.

    1. Thank you for your kind, honest words. God bless you for being so transparent. I pray that He has been with you during these difficult times and that He continues to show up in your life, to walk beside you and comfort you in every situation. I am praying for you, friend.