Secrets in the Dark

Dec 16, 2014

[guestpost]NOTE: For timely news on Michele’s surgery, treatment and healing journey, you can find regular updates on her Facebook page. [/guestpost]

I’ll never forget the first time God answered my prayers.

It was a silly prayer, really. I was no more than four or five years old, living in Arizona with my parents and three-year-old brother. To my delight, a favorite aunt and uncle had come for a short visit.

Even then, I loved nothing more than a house filled with family.

I remember sitting on the floor savoring the adult attention and conversation. Utterly and completely happy.

Until my dad interrupted my bliss and sent me to bed.

Fuming in anger, I stormed to my room without so much as a backward glance. Until I realized I’d failed to tell my aunt and uncle goodbye. Then, devastation. By the time I woke the next morning, they would be gone. No hugs and kisses goodbye. No promises of another visit.

Nothing.

That’s when I started to cry. And prayed pleading prayers for God to give me one more chance, to send either aunt or uncle to my darkened bedroom, to say goodbye.

It only took minutes. Bedroom door opened, and my uncle slipped to the side of my bed. Something he didn’t typically do. Something he had no way of knowing I needed. With an “I’m sorry!” and hug, he slipped back out as quickly as he came.

That’s when I knew.

God was real.

In a girl’s dark bedroom, God transformed from a Sunday-school fantasy into close-enough-to-touch reality. He wasn’t something reserved for Sundays and holidays. He became anchor, compass.

Friend.

Everything changed that night. It was a good thing, too, because life turned out to be far more complicated than a five-year-old’s regret. The teens were tough, my twenties even more so. There were countless heartaches and losses, difficulties and unknowns. Each time, I prayed big, believing prayers. Because I knew God was real. And he cared enough to answer my prayers.

Which is why these past few weeks have nearly broken my heart.

I’ve always tried to be honest with you, and I plan to do the same today. Before I do, however, I need you to do something for me:

Promise me you won’t try to “fix” this, fix me.

What I’m about to say will cause something deep within you to protest. You’ll want to comfort. Or gloss over. Or attempt to change my mind. I get it, I really do. But resist the urge. I don’t need pep talks or platitudes or promises you can’t keep.

Today I need to weep. And if that makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to move on.

{By the way, this is true for most grieving people. Don’t believe me? Give Job a read. You’ll see what I mean.}

You ready?

I’m in a dark place.

And by “dark” I mean a consuming, oppressive black hole of confusion, pain, and deep disappointment.

I don’t understand God right now. I feel abandoned, rejected, unloved.

Now hear me when I say this: I still believe in Him. How can I not when I look at the moon and stars, the snow-capped mountains, the intricacy of the human body, the delicacy of a blooming flower, and the faces of my sweet children? Everywhere I look I see evidence that our world is not one giant accident.

The earth sings to the tune of a Composer.

So, yes, I believe there is a God.

But he feels far away from this Colorado girl right now.

I feel like I’ve been been punched in the stomach more times than I can count. Cancer three times. Three traumatized children with broken hearts I can’t mend. A dad who died far sooner than the doctors imagined.

And that’s just the big stuff.

Heartache after heartache. Loss after loss. I keep picking myself back up, keep fighting and believing and praying. I’m the five-year-old girl crying prayers in the dark while watching her bedroom door.

But the door doesn’t open.

This is a hard place for a believing girl, a wrestling place. The cement under my feet has turned to sand. Mine are tough questions, unanswerable ones. I know this. Of course, I could pretend like everything is fine. I could deliver you a nicely packaged, pollyanna-post filled with a bunch of plastic assurances that everything will be alright.

But it wouldn’t be real. And I believe the circumstances warrant both the real and the wrestling.

A few years ago, my friend, Tonya, spoke Isaiah 45:3 over my life:

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

I didn’t understand it at the time, not fully. Now that I’m camped out in the dark, I’m holding on to it with both hands. I’m doing it for me, but I’m also doing it for you:

For the woman who can’t figure out why her marriage fell apart.

For the parents who beg God to save their addiction-ravaged child.

For the family who lives paycheck to paycheck and can’t figure out how they will manage Christmas this year.

For the pastor whose ministry is about to shut its doors.

For the dreamer who is weary of all her dreams being dashed.

For the widower who doesn’t know how he’ll endure the holidays without the love of his life.

Because I love you, because I share a bit of your grief, I refuse to gloss over my own. Your questions and tears are worthy of more than my poor attempts to mask my own.

My friend, I don’t understand God. Boy, I’ve sure tried to to unravel him, to manage him and package him and turn him into something I can hold in my palm.

But God has proven far bigger than my palm can contain. He is beyond my control. He is beyond my attempts to manipulate. This both frightens me and comforts me.

Yes, it’s been a dark week. I imagine this will not be the last.

But I’m learning true faith dives into the dark. Perhaps even thrives in it. Because it is only here that belief in a God we can’t comprehend or control can really be called faith at all. 

For now, even as I wrestle, I’m searching for the secrets, scanning like a woman desperate for the treasures hidden here. And, although there is a big part of me that’s afraid to believe, terrified belief will only birth more disappointment, there remains a hot, vibrant, still-burning spark that believes—just as much as that five-year-old girl—her God is real.

And He still answers prayers cried in the dark.

[reminder]Have you ever wrestled with your understanding of God? If so, share your story. [/reminder]

62 Comments

  1. Cherie from Queen of Free

    No fixing, promise (because really only God can do that). I have no words except He is with you and He is for you. No matter how comprehensible, I find myself crawling back into that reality, day after day even when I don’t want to believe it because the physical evidence runs contrary. This world is ugly and torn and waiting for Him. It breaks my heart and turns my stomach inside out – for you and all of humanity. Praying for you to find some sense of peace in the midst of a dark place. Any believer in Jesus who ignores the darkness, ignores the Light. We can’t see without the contrast.

    Reply
  2. Blanche Brooks

    Weeping with you … praying for you … and thanking God for bringing you into my life … your vulnerability and transparency are a blessing to me and many, many others, too. I’ve been in that dark place through my own cancer journey, while caring for my father during his cancer journey, and then letting him go home long before I was ready … and every check up sends me back to that dark place for a little while … I know I should trust and have faith, but I still find myself in the dark shadows for a time. But there is a Light waiting patiently until I’m ready … Thank you for sharing, and helping me to understand and accept the dark place as “normal” …

    Reply
  3. Nina Blevins

    Oh, my goodness. You’ve brought forth a flood tears in me again. Only because you speak so truthfully what I’ve felt these past few years. I know about this dark place, too. Through the season of my husband’s injury, his surgery, the loss of his job, my inability to find a job that I can manage with severe hearing loss and blindness in my left eye, the mounting debt…feeling stuck. I’ve called it my exile season. I’ve seen God’s goodness when my husband finally found a job and God’s faithfulness when the owner of the town cafe showed mercy by hiring me for a season (who would’ve thought with my disabilities!) Grace bits in the darkness. I’ve probably been on my face more than I have in my entire life. This ministry God has given you in the ‘dark night of your soul’ is still alive and vibrant because you are reaching others like me by sharing your journey, by being real, by baring your heart. Even in the darkness you still cry out and nothing is more beautiful to the Father than your desperation, your clinging, your fainting, your longing for His Light to shine. Well, it’s shining on me right now and that’s the power of your TESTimony. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. nancy bouwens

    My dark place was the 10 year heart breaking drug addiction of my beautiful son….and the church was silent with no arms to hold our broken hearts in the storm… it made our journey harder. I will not lie.
    My dry place was when my daughter who at age 29 and pregnant with her fifth child was ravaged with a horrible stroke.

    My lonely place was when our son and his beautiful bride held their little son, born at 28 weeks…without breath.

    So many questions without answers. I wanted to wrestle God to the mat, shake my fist and fall into his arms a broken girl more times than I can count.
    He is faithful. I declare it …even when he is silent. He is good. He is always in the storm, Grateful.

    My God is was and always shall be faithful.. even when he seems silent

    Reply
  5. Beth

    Dear Friend, oh yes I have been there ! At 43 diagnosed with cancer. I am sure like you the first time around couldn’t believe my ears! What started as simple surgery , ” if you have to get cancer this is one of the easiest “! Really ! What started as a 2 hour surgery ended in 6, with a diagnosis of stage 4! Really! Dark times and I know those questions you are asking and I know the deafening sound of silence that follows! All I can say dear friend is hold on with all your worth! Rest in knowing so many are praying for you and your precious family ! I am convinced I have survived thus far partly because of those who carried me through those dark days in prayer!

    Reply
  6. nancy

    Much like you Michele I know there is a God. A God who loves me always, but doesn’t always seem as close as I have felt him in the past. I had an abortion when I was barely 18. I was living on my own after leaving an abusive home, so I was very alone. The love of my life rejected my pregnancy and even me. That was almost 50 years ago and the pain, although much better, thank you Lord still exsists. I have one grown son and my heart aches for a grand child. God gave me what I thought was a promise from Habakkuk, which I clung to for many years. But the threads grow thin that I hold onto as time goes on.
    The place I find myself in sometimes is also dark, and for me condemning. The voice can be so loud saying,” you will never have the grand child to hold” after all look at your sin that black sin of abortion. This is your punishment. Just on the midst of that darkness I remember Calvary, and the price Christ paid for my sins, all of them!!! Not just those gray sins but the great big black one. Will I ever hold that baby I don’t know but I know that my sin gave birth to my finding Christmas and my salvation. I also have the promise that one day I will be reunited with the child I didn’t keep that my God took back home. I pray that my story will touch a heart perhaps in that dark place called post abortion….be blessed.

    Reply
  7. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michele…my heart goes out to you…and understands. Although I’ve had days of peace and even joy, I’ve had more days of confusion and darkness and feeling alone here on earth. I wrestle with the “whys.” Why did it seem like God did such a BIG miracle in saving my life when I had a brain tumor in 2006 only to have it come back with a vengeance in 2014? Why did he allow the radiologist to skim over the results of an MRI two years ago and allowed it to continue to grown. Why? Did He not understand what was going to happen to me? But knowing that He cares, not only about my faith, and about your faith, but about the faith of all who we know, He trusts us. He knows when we are honest and we write about our dark days that deep down inside we are already picturing writing about what He did for us in the darkness. It’s coming…

    Reply
  8. Kristi Bothur

    Oh, my, yes. I wrestled with this five and a half years ago, in 2009, when I went through two cancer scares, six surgeries, and lost two babies in pregnancy, one at eighteen weeks, my daughter Naomi. I am wrestling with it now, as in the last five months I have been yanked back onto the road of pregnancy loss not once, but twice. Our fourth child to go to heaven was in August. Our fifth was two days ago. The morning that I awaited my blood test results, to know if our child would stay with us or if my seventh pregnancy would end, I felt compelled to write this on my blog: http://www.thissideofheaven.weebly.com/home/even-if-he-does-not.html. Five hours later, with the bad news echoing in my head, God reminded me of the lesson in it. It is easy to praise him in the light. Praise becomes a sacrifice in the dark, and with such sacrifices he is so pleased. I am praying for you in your darkness and time of sacrifice.

    Reply
  9. Deanna

    Michele,

    One of the greatest gifts someone gave me this year when I shared my broken story was these words: “I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

    One sentence. No answers. Just grace. He let me tell the parts of my story that were and still are most difficult, that don’t have easy answers or an easy faith. He gave me permission.. to not, fake it until I make it with him or with others.

    Thank you for sharing your discomfort, your fight and your faith.
    It’s such a gift to us.

    p.s. love you.

    Reply
  10. Lily Kreitinger

    Sitting in the dark and waiting with you for the door to open and light to come in.

    Reply
  11. Pamela M. Steiner

    Your post was a timely one for me today. But first, let me say that I am praying for you as you wrestle in these dark places. The wonderful news is that yes, Jesus IS there with you in the dark places. He will continue to be with you throughout the rest of your life’s journey, in the bad times as well as the good. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have His Word on it!
    We lost our 41 year old son to cancer this past May 25th, and this is our first Christmas without him. Although I need to clarify that, we rarely spent Christmas day together because he lived in Maine with his wife and son (who is now 15), and we live in Florida and have much family here, so it was not possible for us to be in two places at once. But we always communicated frequently at Christmas and every day…and now I am struggling with doing the things I ought to be doing for the family that remains…shopping for Christmas, and sending out Christmas letters…I heart and mind just want to freeze up and not go there. But the beauty of the truth of Christmas is this: Emmanuel: God WITH US. In the dark places as well as the light. He IS the light…and in Him there IS NO DARKNESS at all! Let Him shed His great light on you, in you and through you, and give you peace, strength, and courage for the battle you are facing. He will never leave you or forsake you. I know this to be true. Praying for you my friend in Christ.

    Reply
  12. Nancy Zeiger

    Michele -I’ve seen it in your eyes. Pain is such a lonely place. Yes, with friends, with God, still it’s isolating. My heart aches as yours. I believe as C.S. Lewis did (in “A Grief Observed”)-God is in this every bit as much as He is in the “beautiful”. …continuing to pray for Troy, “the Littles” , the “big kids” & those you hold dear.

    Reply
  13. Mike Asbury

    Michele:

    Humanity is the greatest gift and most beautiful curse. God speaks to me through community, and it is clear he is to you as well. Reading these responses to your post affirms the love of Christ, as I see it. You are fortunate to have these friends who love you and see your truth. You are a blessing to those who read your thoughts committed to keystrokes, and are, likewise, blessed by giving.

    I hear your pain and join you in lifting it up to God. It’s not new to Him, and you know that He loves you. No sermon, just love.

    -Mike

    Reply
  14. Christy

    Dear Michele,
    I just started following your blog because I was watching Michael Hyatt’s podcasts (which were sooo helpful -thank you!), and I liked you. You have such an appealing personality and spirit about you, so I wanted to “get to know you” more.

    I have had a painful year as well, with loss after loss from many directions. So I just want to say to you, I know.

    And as your sister in Christ I am praying for you today.

    Much love to you,
    Your new friend from Montana 🙂
    Christy

    Reply
  15. Bruce Cross

    Yes, I have wrestled with the same issues from time to time…like NOW.

    Being without work is not something I invited but it happened. I would like to say my mind is filled with certainty that God is working it all for my good. I know He is however there are moments where I am like a deer in the headlights and wonder when I will get to board the next train.

    You are not alone. Thank you for being REAL. It is such an encouragement.

    I share this link below NOT because I wrote it around this time last year.

    I share it to invite you to watch the video clip of author, Marie Monville, the wife of the Amish schoolhouse shooter of several years ago. She attends a church I formerly attended and I picked up a copy of her book ONE LIGHT STILL SHINES……the same light shines for each of us! You will be blessed.

    http://brucercross.com/one-light-still-shines

    Reply
  16. Jeanne

    Oh Michelle…such honesty and frankly, truth. Praying a glimmer of light will pierce your darkness today if only for a moment because I too have been there and am finally on the other side. I too lost my dad to pancreatic cancer, too soon, too young…how I miss him. I am left with a mom who is becoming more helpless as each day goes by, yet unwilling to be helped. I am a fixer…but I can’t fix this – or you either. But I continue to believe because even in my darkest place, He never left me. Even in the despair of my helplessness, He was there. Even as my daddy breathed his last, He welcomed him home. I will pray today for your family as you all sort through “life”…because the giver of life is ever listening and ever present…even in the dark. You are loved.

    Reply
  17. Mary T Ashton

    Thank you for your precious honesty….I am praying blessing will appear suddenly out of the dark for you, even if it is just calm and peace.

    Reply
  18. sue k

    Michelle. I think of you often, tho of course, you do not know me.

    Bill Johnson at iBethel.tv had a great message on the Lord’s view of “Victory”. You might want to take a listen. Go to:

    iBethel.org – Sermon of the Week box – “The Unusual Victory.”

    It’s not a fixing message, for I hear what you are saying.

    Love to you!
    (You do not need to leave this posted – feel free to just check out the message on your own.)

    Reply
  19. Suzie Eller

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

    As a cancer survivor, and having just found out that my husband now has cancer, I get it, Michelle. I do. Your words are powerful because they are honest and faith-filled.

    Reply
  20. Joy DeKok

    Thank you. Just that. Praying for both of us and the many others living in the dark and believing the Light.

    Reply
  21. Kay Kurth

    For faith to become real, for God to become bigger than all our problems, we must find God in the secret places. I have cried out in my teen years, I have cried out in my twenties, I finally understood in my 50’s for hurts to be healed, hang ups to be released, but God keeps telling me, only now I can use you…my story is now in you.
    May you feel an angel hug today 😉

    Reply
  22. Tracy L

    Michele-I hope in reading all of these comments you will see that though you feel alone, you are not. Even the most faithful among us go through dark times and all we can do is hold on to our faith. This year has been a long one for me. I know countless people, myself included, who have either lost a loved one or dealt with cancer or terminal illness. I found myself in the darkness this past spring. Praying that you are able to hold on to your faith ever so tight even as you do not feel it, see it or sense God’s presence. This lonely valley can only draw you closer to him.

    Reply
  23. Gayle

    Wow. I need to hear this. I’ve been in the dark for awhile. My 37 year old son died the day after his birthday in April 2011. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been in the dark since that awful day. Questions. Boy do I have questions. I prayed for my sons life to change for years. Then he died. And I’ve been trying to figure out why…I too still believe in God’s goodness, His perfect plan…but it’s hard. I’m not sure I know how to find my way to the light again. Thank you for honest words that have made me think.

    Reply
  24. Heidi

    Michele,
    Thank you. In a social media of platitudes and self-promotion, I am in awe of your courage to speak your heart. In doing so, you spoke to mine.

    “God has proven far bigger than my palm can contain. He is beyond my control. He is beyond my attempts to manipulate. This both frightens me and comforts me.”

    The darkness has overwhelmed me in the past few years and I have wondered if I have lost my faith more times than I can count. I have felt deep disappointment and bitterness toward God. Thank you for pointing my confused heart back to Truth. . . He is bigger than I can conceive and it’s only believing in the dark that can be called faith.

    Thank you!
    Heidi

    Reply
  25. Leslie Bitsas

    One of the loneliest places I’ve experienced is when I knew God had done something wonderful, and everyone else was excited, but I was scared and grieved by international travel, a strange kid who was now mine, and a life full of responsibility that wouldn’t wait.

    One of the most hopeless times I had as a believer is when I was healing from sexual abuse. Pain, memories, nightmares, grief.

    I treasure the patience of God in times of suffering. He would endure the painful sight of me birthing holiness, or wholeness. He didn’t cut it short. He let perseverance have its full effect (James 1). Only He could give me that.

    I still hate the dark. Even darkness is light to him.

    Reply
  26. Tracey Solomon

    do I wrestle with God?

    Daily. For 5 years. 8 surgeries between my husband and myself. Bad diagnosis’ worse prognosis’. I question, I weep, I beg for healing. So far the answers been “No.” I still hope it’s a “not now” in disguise. Not to mention parenting and all that’s surprised me with.

    Some days I think it would be easier not to believe. At least not to believe God can do what I’m hoping for.

    But I can’t, not believe. I do.

    So here I sit. Weeping. Praying. Hoping. Dazed and confused. Disappointed. Frustrated. Angry at God. Some days stomping my feet all the way to target to buy something or the bookstore, to distract myself from the mess of my life.

    It never works.

    God does. There are twinkling stars of light in this darkness. I know there are. But some days I feel like my personal telescope isn’t powerful enough to see them. And, the truth is- they’re not the stars I’m looking for. I want wholeness. I want healing. I’m tired. So is my husband and family.

    So we wrestle. Like a Forty + year old WWF (does that even exist anymore?) heavy weight.

    And I’m limping. Every wrestling match results in pain, limping. Some days I wonder if I’ll be able to take the next step because I’m limping so much.

    But I do. Because God is.

    Even if I don’t like what he’s currently doing.

    Weeping with you until we get to rejoice together.

    You’re not alone.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Melissa Caddell

      Tracey–oh my, you pegged it with the sentiment, “Some days I wish I didn’t believe in God. But I do.” Amen.

      Reply
  27. Kelly Combs

    When John had been given 90 days to live, I found out from a “routine” mammogram I needed to have a lumpectomy. It rocked my boat. I cried out to God, “I believe in you. I know you’re real. But I think your head is turned from me, because if you could see me, you’d act. I just need to know you’re here, and if I know this…I can get through this.” No instant miracle.

    But I went to meet the surgeon the next week. She told me I needed surgery. I told her my story. Then she told me hers. Her mom & dad had the same age different as John & I (20 years!). Her dad got lung cancer when she was 8. (My younger was 9). Her dad died. And that’s why she was a surgeon. And the one thing she kept repeating is, “God is right HERE. He’s with you.” She gave me her testimony, and asked if she could pray for me. We prayed.

    The fact that God aligned all the pieces for me to receive the message that he IS HERE, and from the person, probably the only person in the world, with a very similar story, wow. He is here. And while I have had hard days as a widow, I KNOW…I know…I KNOW God is here, and that is why I can get through.

    My husband died, and I still had to have a lumpectomy. But God is here. I am blessed. I pray he shows himself THERE and big for you. <3

    Reply
  28. Linda

    Michele, thank you for being real, open and honest about your struggle. I have been told there is therapy is expressing those deep, dark feelings and I believe this to be true. I have myself felt like I was abandoned by God, that he ripped the rug out from under me and left me laying on the floor as he walked out the door. I still believed, but my faith was rocked to its foundation. He hasn’t come running back, but now and then I will see a glimmer of his presence in my life now. Your journey is your own, that no one else can define. You have ministered to me so many times and I appreciate your willingness to share it, even when it is a struggle.

    Reply
  29. Christine Berger

    My dad died of cancer when I was eight. He was only in his early 30’s. I did not grieve enough then. I was not really given permission to do so. When I was in my early 40’s, someone gave me “permission”, and I cried as I have only one other time in my life: gut-wrenching sobs. Cry with your children. I am grateful to be a believer. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that I have a deeper relationship with Jesus b/c I haven’t had an earthly dad…I have needed Jesus more than some. I am so sorry for that black whole that you’re in. It will not last forever, even though it must seem like it. Are you familiar with the hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” The lyrics: Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song; As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long? Refrain: Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares. Does Jesus care when my way is dark With a name-less dread and fear? As the daylight fades into deep night shades, Does He care enough to be near? Oh yes… Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed To resist some temptation strong; When for my deep grief I find no relief, Though my tears flow all the night long? Oh yes… Does Jesus care when I’ve said good-by To the dearest on earth to me, And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks – Is it aught to Him? Does He see? Oh yes, He cares; I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares.

    Reply
  30. Wayne Stiles

    Michele, I’m with you not only in prayer but also in experience. Life is full of unplugged holes that can bleed us to despair. I’m so glad God is big enough to hear how we feel as well as what we believe—and loving enough to know the difference without shaming us.

    Reply
  31. Kim

    On March 9, 2014, our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I had been in some intense biblical studies prior to her diagnosis. I thought I had a handle on it all. I didn’t. I couldn’t talk to God for a long time afterward and I moved into the dark night. Because my focus had to be on helping my daughter, I had to leave many things behind I thought were “right”. I lived in the dark night for six months, knowing God was there, yet knowing I was angry but not sure why. It was in this dark night I voiced my true heart to our Father. He was there in it with me. The whole ugly mess that my friends could not hear. Only God listened. Small break throughs happened. My ears were finally opening so that one day God reminded me that our world is broken by sin and will never be the perfect place I want it to be. My daughter’s diabetes has caused us to change many things in our life, including how I view our heavenly Father. The beauty came that when we changed some areas in our life. God gave me a new place to minister, and be His hands and feet. We are seeing some new fruits from this struggle. I am trying to be more compassionate to others, my people pleasing days are being turned upside down, I am using boundaries more and no is a frequent word I use. I have learned that I can only walk a day at a time with Jesus beside me. But it is only Jesus that can heal me. Hugs and prayers to you as you walk through your dark night.

    Reply
  32. Darrell

    Although I have not experienced the same form of darkness you have. I have been to a similar place, and am just coming out of it myself. I had issues from childhood to numerable to list and am finally learning to love and get along with family with little to no judgement. But like you, I still do not have it all figured out. And I will be honest, I do not think any of us will in this life at least. He is higher than us plain and simple. Here are some verses that may move you forward though in the right direction 🙂

    The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

    Another verse, that I often lean on when I have nothing left in me is Isaiah 40:31, also Psalm 27:14.

    Hope all is well, think on the good things (Philippians 4:8)!

    Reply
  33. Danielle

    I am praying for you every night. I cannot pretend to know what you are going through, but I can keep praying for you and your family. I battled depression, but my situation was completely unlike yours. However, I have learned along the way that sometimes while He does answer our prayers, it isn’t how we expect. I am sure He is standing over you. I hope you can grasp Him soon. Hugs to you and your precious family.

    Reply
  34. Sharon

    thank you Michele, you put into words exactly how I feel! I’ve dealt with this dark place a lot! Thank you for sharing that it is real to be a Christian with a strong faith in God and still feel this way. So many cause worse pain by judging and condemning your “lack of faith and trust”. Holding on with you in the darkness, waiting for the door to open!

    Reply
  35. Susie Klein

    I completely understand. Years 2010 to 2013 were a complete puzzle of one bad thing after another for my husband and me. Family deaths, loss of both our ministry jobs which included our entire circle of friends, son’s motorcycle accident (he survived!).
    I questioned God, but not who He was. Just wondered and whined and worried…and cried. You are right, He is in the dark…and the darkness does not last forever. Bless you on your painful journey.
    Susie

    Reply
  36. Mary

    “That is always the secret to the abundant life; to believe that God is where you doubt He can be.”
    Ann Voskamp

    My dearest friend sent me this quote yesterday and I received it on long, cold, rural roads that still makes me wonder the intention of our life.. my life here. More isolated than ever before. More mundane than ever before. More glaring rawness of how much I am so not like the person I thought I had grown to at this place in my life. The reality of my shortcomings pierce me and I wonder… wonder… does God come here? Even when I have tasted and saw that the Lord is good and still I have a faithless heart? Will He come here? The silence is so deafening and YET I long for Him. That is the grace I have not earned. That does not come from me. That is Other. My story is wondering how the God of grace returns to this heart who knows a little more of how desperate I am for it. The God who runs….

    your journey is compellingly real and raw and draws us to it because in it you still reveal Him. Many many prayers…..:-)))

    Reply
  37. Mike

    The courage it took you to write this gets a huge amount of respect from me, especially given the nature of our American Churchianity culture and it’s penchant for platitudes. Doubt and anguish make people uncomfortable… especially Christians. I am in the exact place that you are now and have been for a while. Many reasons for this, but I admire you for being honest and speaking your truth. I am in the dark room with you, crying and sobbing, wishing I was with those that have already gone into eternity. Thanks you for not sugar coating your pain and telling the codependents in the room to not try and fix you. Bless you, Michele… that’s my sister’s name. She died the day before Thanksgiving at age 52.

    Reply
  38. Danica Favorite

    Love you, my friend. Thanks for being vulnerable. Thanks for being you.

    Reply
  39. Alison

    Thank you for your honesty, Michelle. It’s so refreshing although I know it comes at great cost. Hugs to you.

    Reply
  40. Vicky Cox

    I am so sorry you are going through this Michele – the cancer and the grieving. Thank you for being honest. It brought back so much emotion for me.
    Christmas is not a real happy time in our home anymore. It’s better, but we went through hell for too many years, and most of our loss occurred near Christmas time.
    The worst was Dec. 2005 when the baby girl we fostered and were told would be able to adopt went home to an abysmal situation 4 days before Christmas. I didn’t know such heartache could exist. There was nothing I could do to console my little girls who were 6 & 7. We completed their adoption months before, but all they knew was loss – both before their adoption and far too much after.
    We went through many more difficult times and grieving. Life would never be the same for us. But looking back, I don’t want it to be. I am grateful for the life I have now, and my relationships with God, my family, and friends.
    I’m praying for you to see the light at the end of the tunnel and get to the other side soon.

    Reply
  41. Dewana

    I know exactly where you are…different,yet the same…I know HE loves us…

    Reply
  42. Lori

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Sometimes I wonder about the way I think about God. Still, there are times He has to remind me of His love for me, taking me back to places where He walked with me. When we had no real place to live He carried me through that time by reminding me that I was precious to Him.I couldn’t figure out why He didn’t just rescue me if He loved me. It took was a child’s rock tumbler and asking me how it polished stones. Put the rocks in, add a little water, and the course grit, let it tumble for a week, rinse, repeat at least four times, the end result is something beautiful, the process of walking through that time sometimes felt like that. His intent was for my good. Like a father carrying a child close to His chest when they needed comforting. That is what He did for me, I was scared and He carried me in all of my hurt and brokenness.

    Reply
  43. Sheree DeCouto

    Michelle,

    I can so relate to your post. I’ll never forget a night in the midst of my own battle with throat cancer that I told my husband I wanted to die. God had seemed to disappear when I needed him most. I couldn’t handle what I felt was His abandoment. I told my husband that if I died and showed up in heaven, then God couldn’t ignore me any longer. It was truly a dark moment. But, it was then, in my darkest moment that God spoke to me through my husband. My husband reminded me of all the ways God had shown up in the hands and feet of others who had been there for us. As he reminded me of all that others had done for me I realized that through my illness I saw God in a way I’d never experienced before.
    I had gone into my cancer experience expecting to see a miraculous healing. After all, I was one of His girls. When I didn’t get the miracle I was hoping for it was almost more than I could bear. Now that I’m on the other side I realize that the things I learned about God, faith and life were invaluable. I call it a “different kind of miracle.”

    Reply
  44. Jocelyn

    Dear Lord,

    We pray for our dear sister-friend Michele who is sitting in a dark place. Father, in my dark place it was a revelation of you that made it all worth it. We pray today that You would reveal those hidden secrets to Michele that she may come through this season “not even smelling like smoke” but instead that what would emerge is your sweet fragrance of joy. Father we pray that you would pour out your anointing healing oil upon her that she may continue to glorify your name. In the midst of it all Father please heal the broken areas that her children are enduring. In the name of Your Son Jesus we pray, Amen.

    Reply
  45. s peterson

    Thank you so much for sharing this….I am not commenting to fix, advise, direct or rescue you from your darkness….because I am in the same place. My husband of 31 yesrs lives in a nursing home due to a terminal illness, our son who is a young adult is on the autism spectrum, both of my parents are alcoholics, and my husband’s only parent is ill and lives in another state. The Friday before Thanksgiving my son’s disability flared up and some big changes happened in his life. All of that I could take in stride…God has been so faithful to me and my family over the years – His strength made it possible for me to continue to walk through…..but this last event…..it took the wind out of me. I’ve had dreams die before but this one seemed bigger, more permanent, more forever….I could do nothing but cry, the attacks in my mind were constant and I wished I could will us dead. Condemnation and fear ruled. ….yet every now and then a promise would break through, but faded as quickly as it came. I asked myself “Am I willing to walk away? “Do I really believe that I am abandoned?”…”What if this is just going to be the way it is?” “Do I have the courage, the trust and continue to believe?” I’m in the waiting place – where the need is known but the provision hasn’t appeared……waiting listening and feeling the pain, feeling the death and not trying to fix it myself….sharing in the suffering of Christ yet seeing bits of hope on the horizon, blurry and faint…but slowly growing. I am glad to know I am not alone.

    Reply
  46. Tamara Rivers

    Hi Michele,

    I’ve only been following you for a little while, and around the same time discovered your podcast with Michael Hyatt.

    Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for being willing to share your struggles. I have always appreciated that you are not afraid to openly share as you wrestle with the questions. I have no idea what your’e going through. I can’t even imagine. Regardless, I have literally cried over your post, and the stories so many others have posted. I am praying for you and your family, and am grieving with you.

    Tamara Rivers

    Reply
  47. Eileen

    “true faith dives into the dark. Perhaps even thrives in it.” Thank you, Michele, for your honesty. And, yes, I’ve wrestled with understanding Him too. There’s this great song by All Sons and Daughters called Oh How I Need You. The lyrics I love are “Lord I find you in the seeking, Lord I find you in the doubt and to know you is to love you and to know so little else.”

    Reply
  48. Jeri

    I could have written that article myself. I’m in exactly the same spot that you describe: Answered prayers when I was young and as a youth. Heartaches of my own and of my kids. A divorce that could have been avoided. Wondering why God allows so much hurt and pain yet still finding comfort in knowing that He’s real and very aware of me and of all of us individually.

    I too am looking for those treasures. Wondering why they seem so hard to find. Yet knowing that I have collected some throughout my life that could fill a whole house.

    I don’t even pretend to have answers. I just keep going with the faith that someday, probably after I die, I’ll understand all of this and be happy that I endured all my struggles the best that I knew how.

    Reply
  49. Edith

    I love the way this blog ends. Keri Bullington shared this post and she saw my deep wrestling a few years ago. I did not handle it well. But God was patient. What you are learning is true – in the crucible of faith, the only out is through. In the sermon on the mount we are reminded that we are blessed whatever our circumstance if we have Jesus. He is our consistency. To trust our God is good when He works outside of our control, that is comforting. The hesitancy to believe and the ember of belief that remains burning I think is the beginning of losing our expectations of what God should do and opens up an area to accept His will and trust it is good because He is good. His Spirit is fulfilling this process within you. Whatever eternal treasures God desires to place into your heart and whatever He is desiring to eradicate, may it be done to its fullest extent that He may be fully glorified.

    Reply
  50. Ken Davis

    Your honesty is a breath of fresh air! Your friendship is a treasure! It is an honor to weep with you and pray for you. So glad I know you!

    Reply
  51. Jill Savage

    Honesty begets honesty. Thank you for your honesty, my friend.

    Reply
  52. Albert

    Michelle thank you for being real and sharing this touching message. I am hurting inside for you and I will pray for you.

    Reply
  53. Benita Teems

    I love your honesty.

    Reply
  54. Julie Gorman

    Love you Michele. In my darkest moment God awakened me by calling my name, “Julie.” The whisper of my name was so gentle and compassionate that I thought my husband was trying to awaken me, affectionately. So, at 3:33 AM, I lovingly turned to Greg only to realize he was fast asleep. A warm feeling covered me from head to toe. I felt PEACE. COMFORT. SEEN and LOVED by GOD COMPLETELY!
    In that moment, the Holy Spirit continued to whisper these loving words “Faith isn’t contingent on the outcome of your circumstances; faith resides in the unshakable confidence of WHO I AM and MY GOOD intent toward you.”
    Praying HE meets you and whispers greater confidence to your soul, as He did for me, OF WHO HE IS and HIS GOOD INTENT towards YOU, TODAY and in the days, weeks, and months to come. Love you! Julie Gorman

    Reply
  55. Jerry Casebolt

    You’re in my prayers every day

    Reply
  56. Jan Parrish

    I “pinned” this. I had to start another board, a very important one, “When Life is Hard.” I can’t imagine what you are going through, yet you are still reaching out, in the midst of your pain and sharing. I can’t tell your how that touches my heart. I’m also struggling. There have been a few nights I have laid in bed, just praying for you. In many ways it ministers to my soul, for I’m reaching out, looking beyond myself and praying for someone I love and care about. I have no words, just my love and prayers. I hope they touch you when you need it most.

    Reply
  57. Laura Naiser

    Michele,
    My heart aches for and with you! Yes, I’ve had quite a few seasons of darkness where I was so overcome by doubt and despair I didn’t think I would ever see light again. I’m praying for you and want to encourage you and affirm your courage to be honest with God and with us, your readers.

    I remember how awful it was when I was in the midst of being tossed about on churning black waters of doubt and anger toward God. It was made more awful when others couldn’t allow me that reality and just be present with me through the season of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    I could have put on a mask to cover up that raw, ugly reality. It would have made others more comfortable, but it would have been the worst thing I could have done.

    I discovered that in my fist-shaking and foot-stomping fits, I was still communing with God. It was authentic communion, not some pious, gussied-up prayer that sounded good to someone whose world wasn’t falling apart.

    Looking back, I’m so glad I was real with God. If I had put on a mask and tried to commune with God I know I would have totally missed the amazing work of grace God provided me. I had to bring my real self to Christ: the messed-up, broken self full of doubt, disillusionment, and anger. That’s who had to come to the foot of the cross and meet with Jesus to receive the gift he wanted to give. Then, and only then, could I have something genuine to offer to others.

    You offered us your real self and that is a gift beyond measure. I will be praying for you and your family.

    Reply
  58. Jan Smith

    Yes.

    I am there. I understand.

    I am flooded with relief to know that I am not alone. In brighter moments, I believe this is the journey to “something better.” In darker moments, I feel panicked, lonely, desperate and questioning everything. This from one who never questioned God. Perhaps that’s why so many questions now .

    The questioning began during a particularly difficult time in my husband’s treatment. It felt like the more I prayed and read the Bible, the worse he got. To the point that a voice in my head kept asking – maybe if you quit praying, he will get better. I needed the prayers as much or more than he did.

    I am encouraged by your transparency, as I have been trying to do the same in telling my own story. My not-so-pretty, but hopefully compassionate, instructive, faithful, NOT “Barbie & Ken are Christians” story.

    And encouraged to ignore the looks from those who have no clue what I am talking about. Or who feel compelled to “rescue” God’s reputation by telling me what is not happening. Or by those who are just uncomfortable to not put an end to the story already, a tidy, quick answer.

    If only the easy stories were told and not the messy ones, the Bible would be a blank notebook.

    Please pass the ashes.

    Reply
  59. Georgia

    No trying to fix, I promise. I know all too well the dark places and know that there is only ONE who can fix. My dark place happened almost 6 years ago when our sweet 15 year old girl chose to go home and be with Jesus. I word it like that because sometimes it just hurts less than saying she committed suicide. Suicide… a word I never thought would affect my family much less my own child. I’ve seen HIM do great things in the dark places but the day to day is still hard. I miss her so. but then again I am also truly thankful for the journey with HIM in this grief journey. I cannot imagine what you’ve gone through with cancer 3 times but I do understand the feeling of abandonment and rejection. I am praying for you and your precious family! Praying that you “crawl” up in your heavenly father’s lap and allow HIM to love and comfort you as only HE can.

    Reply
  60. Melissa Caddell

    I have put off reading this post for weeks. Because I knew it would hit home with me. It’s been a hard year. I don’t understand God, either. I’ve been reading and re-reading C.S. Lewis and The Problem of Pain. He made the statement that only Christians question pain, that other people of faith seem to see pain as a natural part of life. I wonder what it is I believe about God-about His nature-that my pain and anger and disappointment don’t seem to comprehend. Where is the place in my faith for pain and suffering? I understand that we often know God more deeply in times of pain, but sometimes it’s just me, huddled up in the dark, screaming for the God of the Universe to SEE ME.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. In the Scary Dark Places | Jan Smith - […] Yesterday I was reading Michele Cushatt’s Blog and it really resonated with me. If you have ever, are now or…
  2. Friday Favorites: January 16 - Blessed by Brenna - […] This powerful post from my friend Michele, as she faces cancer for the third time. […]

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