Five months after losing my three-year-old grandson to a respiratory disease, I had a meaningful conversation with my daughter, Sam’s mother. For your insight, and with her permission, I am including our words here.
Melissa: Hey Dad, I just posted on a grief group. As I sit here, I think our situation is hopeless. Here’s what I posted: “Well, I just walked out of church mid sermon for the first time ever in a panic attack. Verses were shared that I claimed over my baby. Yet he endured a catastrophic medical error and died. I’ve never experienced pain in my faith before, or in my relationship with God… but now, most days I feel I’m barely getting by.” Dad, can you speak into my conflict of faith that seems to be growing and driving a wedge?
Alan: Sam was a testimony of the beauty of God’s creation and how precious life is.
Melissa: I’m just trying to regroup. I’ve been grasping at straws and I need to hear something other than religious platitudes. I think the narrative at church may be wrong and I can’t continue to go. It just hurts too much. Selling people a faith that claims healing and no pain is wrong. I want to know what God’s purpose is in pain and suffering, and why does He allow it? For those who are not healed… what does the church have to say to them!??? Just silence.
Alan: Pain comes with injury and continues during healing. There is physical, mental, and spirit injury. The church rarely addresses the spiritual. We live in a time of unprecedented pleasure and prosperity. The church needs to survive, so it embraces the good times. Satan endorses religious platitudes to keep us far from the truth. I’ve often wondered about the barriers to true healing. Are they caused by the deceptions of our religious training?
Melissa: I just need to find a greater truth. I was close to God, then got de-railed by tragedy and loss. My heart is bleeding! I am struggling because our pain hasn’t gone away and each of us are showing signs of feeling betrayed. I can’t help my kids if I can’t find these answers for myself.
Alan: Despite our prosperity, there are those who are suffering, some are even tormented among us. We have to go deeper to understand God’s purpose, so that we can be purified and know the truth, to help them. It is a greater cause.
Melissa: That’s a message I need to delve into. See… we had no support from the church for four years as we struggled with Sam’s health; abandoned in our trying circumstances, walking alone. Now in his death we’re still alone, on the outside, not fitting into the mold. I was supposed to go to a weekend retreat with other moms. I was with them when they shared how we should pray for each other. That’s when I realized that I cannot go. I’m not saying that their prayer requests aren’t valid, but I just can’t relate. It’s all so superficial. What we’ve been through, what we’re going through, is not relatable to their lives of comfort as they strive for perfection. I just can’t relate. And, I can’t sympathize with them.
Alan: I understand. I have not been able to go to a prayer meeting for many years. My prayers have to be honest, sincere, and true. These prayers that preach at us, in truth, they are not really prayer at all. I am often offended.
Melissa: I can see why people abandon their faith and blame God… religion doesn’t provide any other way, the church is to blame, if you ask me. Most people need God to meet them where they are… if they haven’t received healing yet, that puts them on the outskirts of God’s plan, according to the church. It is so wrong!
Alan: In my new book I hit on these issues very forcibly.
Melissa: Well, I’m offended by Christians as a result of my circumstances, and there’s many standing in the same gap as me. Those in my grieving group say they just don’t have faith anymore; they’re mad at God. I can now understand how they got there.
Alan: We have to separate God from a false religion and share with people a greater truth. I know that it doesn’t seem to be there, and it’s hard to find…
Melissa: Then your book is for them. In loss, pain, and suffering, there’s no church that provides answers, or people with enough faith to help us.
Alan: I love you deeply and am praying for your healing and protection.
Melissa: Thank you for your words and prayers Dad, I love you.
Warning: this book may not be for the delicate or faint of heart. It is written for a mature audience. If you are the self-righteous, religious type, quick to point out the sin in others, this book is also not meant for you. ( I expect your opposition. No matter – it will not be the first time, and honestly, mercy has already triumphed over judgment in my life.)
This book is for those in the gap, as I stand with them.
Why does God allow His children to suffer? It is a hard question. My best answer is on the pages that follow.
Note: This story is told by an anonymous, omniscient narrator and by Jodi Culp, the girlfriend of Samuel Urban, the disgraced magistrate. Expect the viewpoint of the narrator to change when you see the symbol ++++. This allows Jodi to share her personal experience and thoughts.
"This book is meant to be shared." Tell your friends to visit UpdykeBooks.com.
Blessings! Alan Updyke