How Faith Survived?

The following is an attempt to answer a question posed by a reader in response to this post. The question: How could I still believe at all?

I love being able to take pen to paper or pound on a key board. I love using words to communicate feelings, describe emotions, and work out meaning and understanding.

That I am not alone in seeking something better and more complete makes the process that much sweeter.

For the longest time I felt all alone. I was the only person I knew who had experienced the murder of spouse and child by somebody known, trusted, and invited into our home. The fact that he was a member of our church family made the horror of it all so much greater.

I felt physically and emotionally alone everywhere I went.
I was damaged goods.
The world was dark and dim.
And no matter how many times somebody said I understand your struggle and feel your pain, the truth was this: you had no idea.

I couldn’t begin yet to quantify the depth, height, and width of anguish, sorrow, and hurt. I am still discovering those dimensions–in some ways, we will not ever know how big the hurt will be. In fact, my children have a lifetime of painful moments ahead of them. Every significant event, holiday, achievement, success or failure will be a moment in time in which they will be reminded of their loss–and the brutal horror of it.

I have teased my oldest son and his wife that they are not allowed to become parents–because I am not old enough to be a grandfather. So far it is working.

But there is going to come a day when that first grandchild makes an appearance. And in the midst of happiness, I will know my son’s bitter hurt and disappointment because his mother and brother will not be there to share…

So if we can’t know yet the dimensions of our pain, how can you?

Please don’t misunderstand and think we are a family burdened by an overwrought misery. To be expected, we all have our moments. I had one last night–it was a brief time of guilt because I had such a good day. Some of you will comprehend the guilt inherent in having a day not weighed down by sorrow.

But the truth is we are all trying to live good, happy, and adjusted lives–far different than what we imagined, but good nonetheless.

Did I mention how alone I felt?

Surrounded by family and friends, you can still be the loneliest person in the world.
Especially when the most lonesome aspect is perceived abandonment by God.

Whether He was there or not, it is hard to feel Him in the grips of such grief and anger.

Initially I was bolstered by my faith. But in the next month or so as the new reality of tragic loss began to take hold, faith turned into anger.

How could a loving God let such a thing happen? Where was He when Cole was being systematically raped and abused.

That was my precious son and God stood by and did nothing.

Where was He when Cole and Karen were fighting for their lives?

Yes.
I.
Was.
Angry!

Wouldn’t you have been?

Those were the times when the platitudes and sappy hope of an effortless faith meant nothing at all.

My faith loss wasn’t about disbelief in God. My loss of faith was about my understanding of God’s nature. Who was He, really? What was he really like? How could He really let such evil thrive?

No, I never quit believing in God. There is a sense in which I never quit believing He loved me.

I just didn’t understand. I can’t yet claim to understand a God who is so far beyond human comprehension.

The truth is this simple: I never realized how much hard work faith requires. Faith requires a belief and trust that God really does have your best interests at heart. I struggle with that. At the same time, I am not ready to jettison the idea of God caring for me.

So here is my conundrum…

Either I go through life empty with no hope.
Or, I try to do the hard work necessary to trust the God I don’t understand.

It is easy to be peeved and angry–it is hard to trust.

So I wrestle and limp and wrestle some more.
And have faith that one day, my limping gimpy self will trust the God I chose to serve…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

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22 thoughts on “How Faith Survived?

  1. Les- I so admire and appreciate your honesty. I cannot fathom how one deals with such tragedy and loss. So senseless,so hard to comprehend such evil and why this evil was allowed to destroy the lives of God’s precious children. All I can say is keep wrestling with God and look forward to the joy that awaits us as His children.

  2. Yes, Les, all of your feelings are completely validated. I, too, have asked the question “Where were you, God?” I pray and trust and hope that our God will give you and your family peace…and that your good days will be just that, without guilt or a dark cloud. You deserve very many good and grace-filled days.
    Your sister in Christ Jesus,
    Stephanie

  3. Les, I just don’t think anyone can really understand God. Why would He allow 2 of my grown children to die…..one 12 years ago at age 40 with a precious 8-year-old son who adored his dad. The other son died last July at age 54 with a 25-year-old severely retarded daughter. All I can do is trust God and His promises. I’ll never understand. Your situation is much different…but loss is loss andbdeatj is death.

  4. This Christian Brother is still hurting and trying to find peace. Pray God comforts his mind and soul and his family’s heart’s ! ♥ We all would be asking the same questions in our hearts? He was the Minister of Orange Grove Church of Christ. He is still ministering to our hearts and our thoughts and Souls ! ♥ Put him on your List ! You are in my prayers your sister congregation here in Rocky Creek Lucedale Ms.

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I have never suffered a loss as devastating as yours, and I pray I never will. However, I learn something from your words with every entry.

  6. I remember so many years ago, your Dad presented a lesson on grief. One of the things that stuck in my mind is,don’t ever tell anyone that has lost someone, “I know how they feel”. I know I have felt that feeling of devastation and feeling alone during some traumatic times in my life. Thank you for your honesty and gift for words.

  7. I sure am banking on God accepting a person whose faith limps and crawls far more than it walks or runs … and has yet to come close to flying! If not, I’m toast.

  8. Thanks so much for your thoughts. I do not know you andI have in no way experienced anything close to what you have experienced. And yet – I have felt in my small way – some of the things you have felt. Your thoughts have helped me come to grips with some of the things I have felt. Thanks for the words. They have helped me in my struggle. God is still using your gifts.

  9. Les. I’m so moved by your words I don’t even know where to start. I think about your family often. Try to keep your faith strong. Y’all are in my prayers

  10. I met you once when you baptized my grandson, Ross. I prayed so hard for you and your family when this tragedy occurred. For months I prayed for you all. From time to time the Lord would put you in my mind, and I would pray for you. I think my prayers have been answered. You seem to have come to grips with your loss and your love for the Savior. I am praying now you will come back to the pulpit. You have such a powerful testimony!! Your sister in Christ.

  11. Les, I have just caught up on your blog. I am so sorry for the pain. I pray that you will fully feel the presence of the Lord as you walk through this difficult time. I’m sure you are finding a fellowship in his suffering (Phil. 3:10).
    You may know about them already, but I thought I would share a couple of places you may find ones who know your grief better than the rest of us. One is Mike Cope’s blog. He has a series of posts on the grief of losing a child starting here:
    http://preachermike.com/2012/02/07/when-a-child-dies-1. The second is Steven Curtis Chapman’s experience loosing his daughter.
    Many years ago I quit preaching after five years because I really did not have the spiritual strength for the job. After undergraduate and post graduate in both Bible and Biblical Greek at ACU, I knew a lot about the Bible but almost nothing about prayer. The last 8 years have been an amazing journey of the Lord bringing me to face my sin and grow close to Him to find victory. And He has brought me back to full time ministry. I have a men’s seminar and am writting a book. I believe He is bringing you to ministry already here. May He lead you through with grace and strength.

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