I’ve something a little different this week – a reader got in touch with her own God and Suffering story and, although I don’t usually do this, I’m sharing her story with you as a one-off God and Suffering story. The God and Suffering series will be back later in the year but, in the meantime, I’m delighted to introduce you to Susie Ford:
(Trigger warning: Miscarriage).
I screamed at the heavens, “Please don’t take my baby”. Lying flat on my back in the hope that bed rest would prevent the inevitable. But it didn’t. I miscarried what would have been my firstborn. And two months later, it happened all over again.
Miscarriage is weird. More than 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it’s common, but in my experience it’s not that often talked about. Owing to that, I was absolutely convinced that it shouldn’t be that big a deal. Both of my miscarriages were early, about 7 weeks into pregnancy, so I’d only known I was pregnant for about a fortnight. It feels self-indulgent to grieve for a baby you’ve never met and only knew existed for such a short time. To have a total crisis of faith over it was completely unforgivable as far as I was concerned.
Herein lay the problem. I thought suffering was for weaklings. People like me didn’t fall to bits. People like me had a strong faith which carried them unscathed through anything life threw at them, and were smiley, victorious and marching to the beat of “Will Your Anchor Hold” throughout. (Yes, I was a joy to know…)
All of a sudden I was a mess, a failure, not able to go to work, hiding from friends, completely unable to cope. I suppose it’s not surprising that I sank into a very dark pit quite quickly.
That was twelve years ago, and over time I’ve learned some things (and continue to learn) about dark pits and about God. The two go together, but not as I’d imagined. God is in dark, dark places. But not with an instant pick-me-up solution. Sometimes it seems He is doing nothing and that perhaps He isn’t there. The cries for help seem to bounce off the ceiling. Pain is painful, and no less so for believers. Perhaps more so because it feels so incompatible with our belief in a good God.
It is not wrong to acknowledge the true depth of suffering, rather than dumb it down and patch it up in a bid to make it easier to cope with (boy does that not work…). But alongside the truth of suffering, we need to acknowledge the truth that God is good, and that He does good work in dark pits.
In His goodness, God used my pain to show me what kind of god I had been following – an evil, angry, demanding god who expected perfection from his followers whilst remaining distant. A god who was so weak that he needed me to pretend things were ok when they weren’t, just to make him look better. In fact, the complete opposite of our loving Father.
He showed me my sinfulness in choosing to believe in that god over Him, because I felt more comfortable with being punished than the vulnerability of receiving Jesus. He showed me my need to repent of constantly wanting my own independence instead of coming daily to Him – not because He is a master who desires to control, but because He is so much better than all the things my heart is drawn to daily. And finally He convicted me of playing the victim, of sinking into unbelief and refusing to take any responsibility for it because I was “too bad” to do any better. Hand on heart, I wasn’t receptive to hear any of these things before I hit rock bottom. They were there in His word all along, but I wasn’t listening until desperation caused me to seek for the truth of who God is and where He is when we suffer.
He has brought me such freedom and joy from the things He has taught me in suffering. I follow a God who has a plan for my good that extends even down to the dark places, a God who does not waste my tears but so kindly uses them for my restoration.
And lest I should fall into the trap of telling one of those poisonous “once I was broken but I’m all perfect now” stories, I must add that I even after all these admissions of God’s perfect care for me in suffering, I still like suffering not one bit. I only have to stub my toe and I’m so hard done by. I am a whiner. I forget the richness of God’s work in suffering and cry instantly for its removal, and when I don’t get it I return to the bad god, poor me beliefs.
I am constantly inconstant in my faith. Fortunately it’s not about me, it’s about my Saviour. The strength of my faith is irrelevant, because He that I have placed it in is strong enough for both of us. He IS with us – in good, bad and all the bits in between – and He loves us so much that He won’t waste any of it.
Susie Ford lives in Dundee, Scotland, where she works as the Education Manager for a local charity, spending time talking with young people about relationships, sex and self esteem. She is a wife, mum, mad-keen baker and an ordinary follower of the extraordinary Jesus.
[tweetit]”I forget the richness of God’s work in suffering” – @ShamelessSusie’s God and Suffering story @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”I am constantly inconstant in my faith.” – @ShamelessSusie’s God and Suffering story for @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”God…does not waste my tears”- @ShamelessSusie’s God and Suffering story for @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”Pain is painful, and no less so for believers. – @ShamelessSusie’s God and Suffering story for @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
Over to you:
- Can you relate to Susie’s experience of a “God who does not waste tears”?
- Can you relate to Susie’s experience of the “richness of God’s work in suffering”?