Monday, June 9, 2014

i wouldn't want God's job

My current WIP--a non-fiction book about faith--is progressing so slowly it hurts. "Beyond Belief" has been tugging at me for years. Now that I've started working on it, it won't cooperate. There are just so many questions.

"Beyond Belief" recounts the stories of people who have endured some of life's darkest moments--a child's death, devastating illness and disabling injury, a friend's suicide--and in spite of it, gone on to forge a strong faith in God. They don't question His motives or His methods. They don't blame Him for their trials. Instead, they draw strength and solace from His felt presence in their lives. Their stories help the rest of us reconcile the contradictions between what we have been taught to believe about an all-powerful and merciful God with the pain we experience in our lives. "Beyond Belief" explores the extraordinary faith of ordinary people and what we can learn from them.

These are friends of mine. They have shared their stories with me little by little over the years. I knew it would be a painful for them to revisit these memories, not to mention putting them into words, but each of them graciously and generously accepted the invitation. For their courage and grace I am deeply indebted and eternally grateful.


My hope is to touch someone out there who has suffered and given up on God because of it, and to show them that there is a way back.

Today I met Pat for lunch so we could go over her story. I needed more from her. I had to ask her how it came about that she grew up feeling that she was unworthy and unlovable. Who convinced her that the pain she experienced in her life was God's punishment and that she somehow deserved it?

I wanted to understand her family and the shameful incident that drove them out of town and nearly destroyed her youngest son--a creative genius who went on to study art and music in college. The sweet, sensitive boy who lost his mind to a college prank--an intentional LSD overdose orchestrated by a couple of his buddies. I had to ask her how she came to learn that it was his body that turned up  in the woods behind the house six months after he wandered off one day. How the police established his identity. How she survived it. Why she still goes to church.

Next week I'll meet with Robin and we'll go over the details of the car crash that took her younger brother's life when she was just fifteen...when he died in her arms. I'll ask her about the day her happy, active infant daughter went mute with autism. We'll revisit the day she learned she had stage 4 breast cancer and what it was that got her through that.

Then I'll meet with Rita. Then, Maria.

This book is hard to write because these stories are hard to tell, and hard to make sense of. If, in writing it, I have learned anything so far it is this: I wouldn't want God's job. I think He must be very sad.
How do you see the problem of pain? Do you believe in the power of prayer?
What if God's answer is "no"?


  1. I couldn't listen to those stories or tell my family's tale of loss. You're very brave. Sometimes I think I keep my faith in God's existence because it's too awful to believe he doesn't exist.