Christian Living,  Devotions,  Life Stories/Lessons

Wrestling Through: Even Mature Believers Face Struggles in their Faith

My mom and dad enjoying a rare day out with family.

Wrestling Through Deep Loss and Grief

My name is John Cox.  I’m 73 years old and just happen to be Terri’s father.  Terri asked me to write a short article on a time in my life when I was struggling.  Like most people at this age, I have been through a lot of hard times.  I taught children’s and adult Sunday School classes for years, and I considered myself a mature Christian.  But when Bev (my wife of 50 years) became ill with pulmonary fibrosis, I began a struggle, which after almost 4 years, I’m still working through.

Bev suffered with this terminal disease for several years, and I prayed for her to be cured, earnestly and very sincerely.  There was one well-meaning church member who said, “we just need to pray harder”, but she just continued to grow weaker until on May 5, 2018, she went to be with the LORD.  That completely knocked the wind out of me.  How could a loving God let this happen?  It hurt so bad I couldn’t even breathe, much less pray.

Terri asked me to tell you how I survived and held on to my faith.  Well, at first all I could do was cry out to the LORD “PLEASE HELP ME!”  I knew I couldn’t handle this one on my own.  I also knew that I could never understand why this would happen.  Then I started thinking of one of Bev’s favorite verses, Psalm 56:3,4 —- “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust”. I also started rereading 1 Corinthians 15:20-34.  In my bible the heading is, “The Christian Hope”, which speaks of the last enemy, death, being destroyed. Because of this, to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD!

I knew it was alright to grieve, but I went back to 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14 — “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”  And my favorite part, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” 

What I learned through the wrestling:

Don’t get stuck in your grief. We must keep moving forward toward the mark set before us, as spoken by the Apostle Paul.

Then as I started to breathe again, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I wanted to move forward, but it was hard to leave familiar habits and places.  We all need a purpose, but what?  So, some familiar verses came to mind.  Proverbs 3:5,6 — “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding; In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.” Just start moving and He will direct your path!  I don’t have to figure it all out! (And neither do you…that’s where trust and faith come in.)

In closing, I would say it’s ok when we don’t understand why God allowed something bad to happen.  We are not God and sometimes we will never understand.  The import thing is to remember He is God, and we can trust Him and His promises

The second lesson is to not allow ourselves to get stuck in our grief.  I believe that is a lack of faith and trust.  This pain is only for a season and God will be true to His promises to resurrect and redeem all things one day.

(Did you see how thinking and reading Scripture helped my dad wrestle toward hope?) I have a free resource available to community members. Sign up to receive How to Hold Tight to Hope When you are Tempted to Lose Heart below.

A note from Terri:

The last Christmas with mom. Dad loved her well.

I so appreciate my dad being vulnerable and real in his wrestling with God over the loss of my mom. I know that wasn’t easy. My Dad has an eternal perspective and lives that out in his daily walk with God, imperfectly yet faithfully. God sees us in our humanity and meets us there in the midst of sorrow. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble. God never turns away from our honest search for truth; He only asks that we seek truth in Him. If your wrestling leads you further away from the heart of Christ, you are wrestling in vain through your own strength.

I love when mature believers can be authentic with their spiritual journeys and be an encouragement to those struggling through hard things in their lives. We are all in process till Christ calls us home, and we all have times when our questions collide with our understanding. As the Church, we are to comfort those with the comfort we have been given. We are to bear one another’s burdens, have mercy on those who doubt, pray over each other, love well in word and action, and build up the body of Christ.

I hope that this article and ongoing series can be a moment of grace and strength for those in the middle of their own wrestling with hardship before God. Ask the questions. Keep seeking and showing up. He promises to be found as we draw near to Him — even when we have no words, have little faith, and are disheartened, tired, and afraid. Remember, He is close to the broken-hearted and desires to know you and grow you in faith. And you have fellow sisters and brothers who struggle and yet persevere. Our prayer is that you too will hold tight to hope and remember the joy that is set before us.

In Christ,

Terri Prahl

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