If you know me in real life, you may or may not know that the last 2 years have not been the easiest for me. There has been a lot of uncertainty and lots of change. I’ve not felt far away from God through it all, but I’ve struggled with faith and hope in general. When I saw the title of a new book (or maybe it was the subtitle), I knew this would be an important book for me to read at this time in my life. Baker Publishing sent along this new book for me to read, and I’m very thankful for it!
Whether you’ve lost someone you loved, suffered career failure, or simply been let down by a fellow Christian, it’s natural to wonder whether God has forgotten about you. You’re not alone. But as a believer, you can trust that overcoming individual challenges will prepare you for a greater purpose. Kluck and Martin’s raw revelations about their mistakes and disappointments will help you on your own journey to finding God when you’re standing in the dark.
I was right. Finding God in the Dark definitely came across my desk at the right time. The subtitle is really what stood out to me: “Faith, Disappointment and the Struggle to Believe”. THAT was really what I was personally dealing with.
At the very beginning of the book, Ted says, “Pain is real, and it’s not necessarily unspiritual to acknowledge it.” I would agree with that, though some churches and some Christians like to spout platitudes like, “It will all be OK. All in God’s time. Nothing happens that God hasn’t allowed to happen. God won’t give you more than you can handle. etc. etc. etc.” Those statements are probably also true, but they don’t acknowledge the pain of the present, pain that REALLY hurts, pain that cuts to the core of your beliefs and through all reserves of strength and faith you have.
What I appreciated most in this book was the way Ted and Ronnie both put words to their painful experiences. I was finding it tough to be able to explain to people around me what I was feeling. God wasn’t far from me, and neither had I walked away from Him. But disappointment, dashed hopes and dreams, and lots of hurts had me feeling battered and giving a lot of thought to my faith and my struggles, and how they ‘worked’ together. Ted and Ronnie said so many things that I didn’t know how to say. I highlighted and underlined many sections, and took notes in the page margins…
“I knew in my head that God was real, and I even believed that He loved me. I just wanted, and needed, to feel it.”
While grieving a particularly difficult loss:
“Music didn’t sound good. Food didn’t taste good. The world seemed dark and bleak. Life seemed a series of disappointments, peppered with occasional rays of hope [that always seemed to quickly disintegrate].” [words in brackets are my own, added to Ted’s.]
“…I had been disappointed by professional Christians at every turn, which I have to admit is harder than being disappointed by regular people…
“My questions were practical as well as theological: Does knowing God make any difference in my life, as well as in the lives of the believers who are (I felt) wronging me? And more important, can I trust a God who would… allow me to be disappointed by Christian colleagues, and allow me to miserably fail financially?”
These passages, and many more in this book, I read and reread, and cried every time. I read them out loud to my husband, so he could hear the words I didn’t know how to formulate for myself, the words that began to explain where I was really at. I sobbed while reading the words out loud, because they really did capture a lot of how I felt.
How do you resolve the seeming conflict between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, especially when it seems to be men’s choices taking you deeper into a pit of disappointment and doubt? I still don’t have THE answer… But knowing that I wasn’t the only one who asked this question really made me feel better.
Both Ted and Ronnie turn to Scripture to answer their questions –
- to the Psalms, where David pours out his heart, but somehow never turns cynical in light of the disappointments and disasters he faces;
- to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, where God’s goodness is clearly displayed;
- to the story of the Garden of Eden and the Fall, where God promised and provided, even in the midst of sin;
- and to Jesus’ last hours before his torture and crucifixion, where even He struggled with the pain and darkness of what was coming, which was fully God’s will.
I can say it again – I really did not lose God in the dark. But I did discover that, while I was standing in a dark space in life, finding God in that space looked and felt different than anything I’ve ever done before, different than any way I’d ever connected with God before. The very raw reality shared by Ted and Ronnie helped me to know that I wasn’t alone, and that struggling with faith and disappointment is very much a part of life, even Christian life. Maybe even more than that, their honesty allowed me to be honest with myself and my loved ones – and to take more concrete steps out of the dark and toward the light.
Honestly, I’m not completely out of the dark yet, and I know that I’ll experience dark times again in life. These highlighted pages of Finding God in the Dark, and the Scriptures that they reference, will undoubtedly prove to be a comfort and a resource to get through those times, as well!
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.