Loss and Faith

You know that feeling of being mad at yourself? It's like when you've eaten a whole carton of ice cream and the minute you finish, you hate yourself and wish you could take it back? (Unless it's Blue Bell ice cream.) Right, I've been feeling that way this morning (not because of ice cream, FYI...though it might be because of chocolate pie. I said might.).

Anyway, here's the truth about me. I unfortunately have a tendency to read celebrity gossip. I know, I know. I don't necessarily go looking for it, but if there's something about Brangelina flashing on msn.com, I will probably check it out. But I was thinking yesterday about how when bad news comes, suddenly all that other stuff becomes so insignificant and shallow and you just don't care anymore. I don't really think there's anything wrong with reading about stuff that's not all that useful. It's not a big deal to me. But in the past few days, I've had some emotional news, and it provided some really clear perspective on what actually matters to me. And trust me, it's not Brangelina or Robsten.

Someone I really care about found out she has cancer. And someone else I really cared about passed away. And when those things happen, everything else is stripped away and all you're left with is this reality of how frail we are. I was in Virginia recently and my youngest sister and I were talking. She's about to start her senior year in high school. It's so tragic but a boy in her class just died a couple of weeks ago. A drunk driver hit the car he and his mom were in and they died instantly. We know they were Christians and we know they're in heaven, but Laura said something that just felt really honest to me. She said something to the effect of "but what if everything we believe is actually wrong and there's nothing after this."

That's a scary thought, right? And it's one I think most Christians would jump in and respond to by saying all kinds of things about how we know everything we believe is true and such and such. But the truth is we don't exactly know--I don't know anyone who has come back from the dead and told me what to expect (literally, physically told me, I'm not talking about reading about it in the Bible). That's why it's called faith. Believing without seeing, you know what I mean. And there are so many different faiths out there. And there are people in every section ready to die in defense of their particular belief system. Who's right? We can't all be right. We just have to have faith that what we believe is true.

But I've realized something else, in some way, loss strengthens faith. Because when you lose someone, suddenly the notion of heaven's reality becomes paramount in your life. It has to be real. You can't stand the thought of losing that person for forever. You have to believe that they still exist in some form. At least, that's been my experience. In some ways, loss can make us question God and feel really distant from him. But in other ways, it can make us desperate for him. And it's strange that you can be so mad at God, but then even shouting out your frustrations to him can feel comforting. To be perfectly honest, my feelings of faith and truth are a work in progress, at best. But there's just something so comforting about the thought of heaven.

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