Nine years ago this week, my dad passed away from cancer at the early age of 55. It feels like yesterday. Even though it has been nine years, I still find myself broken over his passing. The time of his death marks a dark, dark season in my life. Yet, however awful the time was, as I reflect each year at this time, a new depth is formed in my soul. Isn’t that what struggle and hardship do in our lives? Create depth that good times can’t.
When my dad passed, I didn’t allow myself to “feel”. I felt I had to be strong; show that I was still a woman of faith. I stood on the stage at my dad’s funeral and sang this song I wrote:
In pain and suffering, and brokenness it brings
I will praise you
In joy and happiness, in love and faithfulness
I will praise you
In the seasons of my soul, I will learn to praise you Lord
I will bless your name
In the seasons of my life, I will learn to testify of your greatness Oh God
I will praise your name O Lord
I will testify, I will testify, of your greatness O God
I will bless your name, I will bless your name
I will lift you up
I meant every word. I truly wanted to choose to bless God despite my brokenness, and so out came this song. What I should have said to God was F- you. Harsh? Maybe, but that’s what I was truly thinking. I thought it was wrong to express such humanity and honesty, I repressed it and chose what everyone (including myself) expected me to do. Three months later I was wasting my life away in the club.
How could that happen? How could I go from holding a ministry of great responsibility, being a godly leader to many other leaders across British Columbia only to lose it all only months later? How could I stand and testify of my great faith in God and want nothing to do with him in such a short time afterwards? Looking back, I believe it’s because I didn’t allow my soul to feel.
Just this past weekend I heard Brad Jersak say, “We think it’s wrong to approach God from our soul; with our feelings of anxiety, fear, doubt…. Yet God operates in our soul. He wants us to bring the questions and our pain.
God knows what’s in your soul. If we don’t admit it, we never come to a resolve. We can’t walk in the next thing until we resolve the last thing. The battle makes us. Could we find favour with God because we’ve wrestled?
God values wrestling. All his best friends wrestled with Him. Even Jesus in the garden said his soul was crushed and didnt want to be alone. He asked God to take the plan away. The Son of God said this. He doesn’t just pray this once but twice. This is the guy we follow.”
After a two years of living in shame and only being able to say to God, “I’m so sorry”, I finally broke. I told God what I honestly thought. After all the words spoken over my dad that he would live, where was God on his deathbed?! Why did God take my dad away from me when our relationship had just been restored and he was finally the dad I had longed for?!
Some of you may be offended at that kind of language being directed at God. A couple of years ago, I was very uncomfortable with this as well. However, this is what I was truly thinking. I was angry, disillusioned, and hurt. I felt abandoned. I was hiding my true feelings behind a wall of faith. I discovered quickly that my healing came once my honesty was released. The day I broke was also the day of my freedom.
I like what Brad said in regards to this. He stated that honesty is only the first step. After we’ve spilled ourselves, we need to give God a turn. He wants to respond with love and grace. He wants to bring healing and life back to our soul. I thought standing in front of a crowd singing about my faith in God was brave, but it was nothing compared to the courage I needed to stand before God with my honest hatred and then stand to hear His response. It wasn’t judgment or woe – it was embrace. It wasn’t disappointment or anger – it was kindness. It was His love that brought me back to Him and restored my hope and faith.
I understand that standing firm and choosing to bless God despite our circumstances is an important part of our faith, but honesty like we find in David in the Psalms often comes first. Allow your soul to cry, then it can bless. Allow your soul to feel, then it can praise. Don’t hide behind false strength. Run to Abba Father in your ruins and dare to bare your darkness and questions you never thought you could ask.
You may be surprised by His response and the life that follows.