I met Courtney when we were young girls, both a part of the homeschool community in our area. It is such a blessing to see what the Lord is doing in her life, and I’m excited to introduce you to her! You can find her blog at The Caroline Farmhouse.
I was raised in a Christian home. My parents taught me to have a reverence and love for God, and faith is something that comes somewhat naturally to me.
I don’t need to know the “why” for everything. I don’t have all of the answers and that’s okay with me. I trust God’s nature and His goodness.
That being said, I know that that is not the case for everybody and that each of us have been given unique personalities and quirks. We all enjoy different things and have different strengths. Some of us want to know all of the answers because they matter to us.
My husband is one of those people. If it doesn’t add up, he’s not a fan. That’s why he’s such a good engineer (ha).
But even with my personality, I have had my doubts. In times of trial and suffering, I find that these questions of “Why God?” start making their way to the surface.
One of the biggest trials of my life came when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son, Elijah.
It was meant to be such a joyous day.
My husband, my younger sister and my 9 month old son, Rhett, and I sat in the doctor’s office, eagerly waiting for my name to be called. Today was the day we would find out the gender of the baby. We had all “placed our bets” and we couldn’t wait to see if we were right! I was hoping for another boy, Chris and Carley felt like it was a girl. Rhett was clueless and just wanted to eat whatever he could find on the waiting room floor.
As the technician ran the wand across my belly and all kinds of unfamiliar shapes danced across the screen, we held our breath in anticipation.
“It’s a boy!”
We were all so excited and knew his name already. Elijah. Chris and I looked at each other, eyes welled up with joyful tears. We were so grateful.
The doctor came in to go over the ultrasound pictures with us, and that’s when she told us she was slightly concerned. She pointed to pockets of fluid in my placenta and wanted me to come back the next day for a more in depth ultrasound.
Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.
The next day, as the doctor and technician went over the ultrasound with us, she told me that my son was not going to live. He had a 1% chance of survival and she said she was honestly surprised he was alive at this point.
I instantly burst into tears.
I had just watched his heartbeat on the screen and saw his movement and felt his kicks. He was going to die?!
She continued speaking.
“I am mainly concerned for your health though.” She told me I had what was called a partial molar pregnancy and that I was at risk for seizures and strokes, blindness, and ultimately death. She said the symptoms could come at any moment and without much notice.
She told me I had cancer in my placenta and the longer I carried Eli it would spread to my liver, lungs, and brain.
She recommended an immediate termination of the pregnancy and for me to start chemotherapy as soon as possible.
The heaviness in that tiny room cannot be described. Chris and I were shattered. It was a serious decision, and one that we didn’t take lightly. We chose life for our son. We wanted him to have a shot at life, and we knew God held his little life in His hands. It was not in our power to end his life, we trusted God to know how long Eli and I should live.
It was in the hours after our diagnosis, as we met with genetic counselors, had tons of blood work done, and were left sitting in a cold, sterile patient room, that my heart began to doubt.
The next morning as I woke up and realized this was not a bad dream but our reality, I remember sobbing in our bed. All of my plans were shattered. I wanted Rhett to have a brother to play with. I had already pictured them wrestling and playing together. I had already washed and folded newborn clothes, awaiting Eli’s arrival. I loved this child. I loved him so much. I didn’t want him to die. I wanted to hold him.
I didn’t want to die. I wanted to be present for Rhett’s first birthday…for his graduation…for his wedding. I wanted to grow old with the love of my life, whom I had only been married to for a year and a half. Our lives had just started!
My feelings towards God were a mixture of anger and intense grief. “Why? Why did this have to happen?!” my soul whispered over and over.
I knew that He was in charge. I knew that He could make this all go away. That this didn’t have to be a part of His plan. And yet it was happening and I was powerless to change it.
Why? Lord, why?
In the past I had always felt like being angry at the Lord or questioning His will was sinful. Good Christians believe and trust, right? Good Christians weather the storms, knowing that God intends only good for His children.
And yet here I was, raw before my Heavenly Father, wondering why He was letting this all happen. I didn’t feel like a victim, I just felt let down. I knew the Christian life wasn’t meant to be one of ease and prosperity. I knew we were called to suffer. But this just felt over the top.
I decided to be honest with the Lord about how I was feeling. I asked my “why” questions. I told Him that I was angry and confused. I wrestled with Him. I sobbed when the words wouldn’t come.
And I found peace. Even if for a moment.
These were daily, sometimes hourly, conversations about my doubts. I would read His word, cry out to him in prayer, and feel peace. Then we’d do it all over again.
I felt like for the first time I could relate to David in Psalm 22:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy…”
I love that so many of David’s psalms are words of pain and doubt mingled with what he knows the be true of God. So I decided to follow his example.
I would be honest with the Lord about how I was feeling, but not leave it there. I would repeat what I knew was true. Even when my heart wasn’t sure if I could believe it in that moment.
“You are good and do good…” (Ps. 119:68)
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.” (Ps. 145:17)
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11)
“…yet You are holy…”
Personally going through a season of doubt like this made me realize how isolating it can feel. The word “doubt” sometimes feels taboo in Christian circles.
What if we as Christians didn’t shy away from the questions? From the doubts? We tend to draw lines in the sand whenever bad things happen to us or people we love.
“A loving God would never let this happen.”
“How can God be good when there is so much suffering in the world?”
“I could never follow a God who would let innocent people die.”
It either has to be all good and go our way, or we call it quits.
But what if instead we wrestle through these hard things? We tell God exactly what we are feeling – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And talk it out with Him.
Let it all out. Hold nothing back. He knows the deepest, darkest thoughts of our heart anyway. We aren’t going to shock Him, right?
Then, when we have spoken our peace, go back to the truth of His word. State the facts about God. Remind ourselves that He is the only good, pure, and holy thing in this world.
We are the sinners. Our very breath is all grace upon grace. We made this world wicked and cruel. We chose this over God in the garden of Eden.
Yet He is good. He made a way for us to have fellowship with Him through Christ His Son. He. Is. Good.
Let us run into Him when the storm comes. Let us not bristle against Him when we feel the sting of sickness, grief, and death.
Don’t walk this alone. Talk to someone, whether it be a pastor or a friend, and don’t keep it inside.
And if you know someone who is walking through a season of doubt, don’t gasp at their questions. Let them know that they aren’t weird or sacrilegious for having doubts. You don’t have to have the answers for them. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Just let them share and be honest about what they’re going through. Having a listening ear in a time like this is so beneficial, and so rare.
We need to change the conversation about doubt, and realize that yes, God is good and does good. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes we aren’t confused by the ways in which He brings that about.