Today's Revgalblogpal Friday Five is of the more serious variety, but really it's about where the rubber hits the road in the life of faith:
So many of us are overcomers in one way or another, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5;
1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...

Short answer, yes. Longer answer: In the Spring of 2003 life had just started getting back to normal after a year of journeying with my mother and family through my mom's illness with cancer. The treatments had gone well, she seemed to be on the mend, and I had stopped regular cross-country trips to visit her and help take care of her. Then I got the phone call. My mom was in the ICU, her entire body was septic, and they were probably going to have to amputate her leg (this wasn't from the cancer - although I 'm sure it had weakened her, but complications with diabetes). Even though I was across the country, I was the first sibling to arrive at the hospital. My Dad was understandably on overload. And my mom was barely holding on. My Dad & I took turns sitting in the hospital room with her - when I wasn't there I was touring nursing homes and trying to make plans for what we'd do when she pulled through the crisis. It was the most surreal moment of my life, sitting there watching my mother struggle to breathe, obsessing about the blips and beeps on the machines she was hooked up to, trying to hold it together for my Dad, keeping my siblings up to date and waiting for one of them to get there. Through it all, I felt this amazing presence and support. I didn't know how to pray at a time like that, but I didn't need to. God was there in a way I had never experienced before. God was light and life and hope and strength and grace. God was sitting there with me, watching the beeps and blips, cheering the respiratory therapist on as he coaxed my mother into breathing. God was there in the tears. God was there, and so I was able to be there for my family.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?

Short answer, yes. Longer answer: After the episode described in #1, my mom recovered and started to learn how to live life with a prosthetic leg. Then the cancer came back ... with a vengeance. I resumed my cross-country trips and my life was turned upside down. It was almost too much to handle, but it was my mom and so I did. But God had a lot to answer for in my book. How did one of the most amazing women ever to walk this earth (my mom) deserve such suffering? Why did it not seem to end? What about war and violence and natural disasters for that matter? Where was God, and what was he doing about it? I stopped going to church except when absolutely necessary. At this point I had become the ultimate church geek and was on oodles of committees. I'd show up to chair a meeting or sell fair trade coffee after mass, but I stopped actually going to mass. I stopped praying. I was too angry. Then one day, my pastor called out of the blue with some obscure question. Really he had noticed my absence and was checking in. I sent him this long e-mail detailing everything above and asking the questions. I may have even said something about being so mad at God, I wasn't even sure if I believed in him anymore. My pastor's reply helped me to realize that it's hard to be so angry at someone you don't believe in! The kind of anger I felt is the kind you feel in a close personal relationship. He suggested I spend some time with psalms, as those ancient people certainly knew how to express their anger and frustration to their creator. There wasn't a quick fix, but slowly I started to let God back in. So what got me through? Someone reaching out and helping me to open up again ... In the end this was really where my relationship with God matured, and I started down the path that has me where I am today.

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

Song: God Beyond All Names by Bernadette Farrell ~ "God beyond all words, all creation tells your story. You have shaken with our laughter you have trembled with our tears. All around us we have known you. All creation lives to hold you. In our living and our dying we are bringing you to birth."

Bible verse: Habakkuk 2: 3 ~ " For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint; If it delays wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late."
4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?

It's a valid question because it's a human question, but the question does not in my experience hold an answer, at least not a satisfying one. The only answer I have found is that suffering is. I don't think God causes suffering. I don't think suffering happens for a reason. I just think it is. Suffering is, God is, we are. Christ, by becoming human and suffering and dying on the cross, knows this very human dimension. God is with us in the suffering, just as we are there with each other in the suffering. In our vulnerability and in our openness to and compassion for each other we find God even in the midst of our suffering world ~ and that is where I find hope.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

Gather my friends and loved ones together and enjoy each other's company.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story and reflections. The thoughts were put together so beautifully!


Leah Sophia said...

it's hard to be so angry at someone you don't believe in! The kind of anger I felt is the kind you feel in a close personal relationship...

What a fabulous answer--I need to remember that. And I LOVE the song you quoted from. In some ways I prefer the more serious F5's because it's hard to do them justice, but you definitely did.

Be Blessed!

Counselor in Process said...

Thanks for writing this. It sounds like a very difficult journey.

Anonymous said...

I had experience the same journey with my mother dying from cancer. I thought I was going to fall apart at any moment. I've always felt that when I cried when something bad was going on in my life, God was crying with me. That always helped me get through tough times. Thanks for sharing your story, it will help others...

swandive said...

love love love the verse, i've not heard it before. THANK YOU.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Thanks everyone. I think my experience is common. God speaks to us in our broken spaces - or perhaps that's where God is able to break through and we are able to finally hear.