“I’m doubting God’s love.”
I looked her straight in the eyes as I said it. Someone should have warned her not to ask me how I was doing. By the look on her face, I knew she’d have been more impressed with me if I had thrown a bucket of ice cold jello on her … but I just didn’t have the energy to hide my feelings. I was at the painful end of seven years of infertility. I was raw. I was real.
And I scared her.
“You can’t say that,” she said. “You’re a pastor’s wife!”
Her curt rebuke of me turned out to be the inspiration of my next women’s retreat.
“I’m still a human,” I said. “At one time or another, we all will feel this way. I’m in the ministry, but that doesn’t mean I’m emotionless.”
Of course, her words impacted me. I started to feel guilty. I went on to tip my pastor’s wife hat to her by giving her the spiritual leader lecture she apparently longed for. I quoted Job and David in the Psalms to assure her my pain was Biblical, and she walked away smiling and nodding perhaps a little too enthusiastically.
As a leader, was I right to be so honest? I believe so. Here’s why …
We have forgotten how to suffer together as the Church. And I believe it’s coming from the top down. If we pretend that pain and heartache and doubt are not part of the perseverance of the saints, then our congregations will too.
Then, when they can no longer pretend everything is awesome, they will walk away feeling like failed Christians.
Our God chose to come to earth and feel suffering. Christ shouted for all the world to hear, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). That scripture has remained with me most of my Christian life. I’d say it with a whisper and look around to make sure no unstudied listener could misinterpret the “real” meaning of Jesus’ words on the cross—that all good things do not come to us without a fight.
Our God fought.
The Bible says, in Hebrews 2:8, “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” He suffered in every way we have, and He did not hide it from those He ministered to.
Remember, “Jesus wept” in front of all those he was ministering to (John 11:35).
The amount of healing that came to women in our church when I did our “Unbroken” retreat (using scripture to prove our right to mourn together) made my present suffering all the more bearable. It strengthened all of our hearts including mine. It made our joy together complete when I brought home my daughter Liberty Grace, born and adopted on Christmas night 2008!
Maybe, just maybe, my words will come back to the woman I spoke to many years ago. I hope they will minister to her when her own back begins to break under the weight of a faltering faith. And maybe, just maybe, she will remember the rogue missionary girl who came home off the field on furlough and confessed, “I’m doubting God’s love.” Maybe, just maybe, she will remember that I remained real about my heart and never stopped fighting to know God’s love—even when it was hard.
What about you? How are you leading amongst brokenness?
Published August 3, 2017