When parents and Sunday school teachers told me God was real and good, I believed it. No question. After all, I could see evidences of Him everywhere, in the sweeping branches of the willow tree in the front yard and the colors of my mother’s flowers. Where could such beauty come from if not from God himself?
But that was before. Before pain blinded me to God’s presence and turned my world dark. Before unrelenting suffering left me feeling utterly alone.
Then, when the light went out, I could no longer see:
“What complicated my physical suffering … were the emotional wounds and the unanswered questions. Where was God? I’d followed Him my whole life, loved Him with every breath. And yet the unyielding nature of my suffering, in spite of the prayers of thousands for relief, baffled me.
God, why won’t you do something? Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?
He didn’t answer. And His silence devastated me.
I feared I’d been abandoned by the God I’d always loved. Or, worse, that the God I’d always believed in wasn’t real after all. The cumulative years of fighting for life sapped my strength and my faith, and I felt myself giving up.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time despair almost got the best of me. I could use up all my fingers and toes counting the number of days in the last three years when the thought of ending my life seemed like a viable option.
The reasons for this are many, not the least of which are the physical dues I pay each day for having almost died and yet lived: Muscle tightness, atrophy, and diminished mobility in my neck from radiation and multiple surgical scars, inside and out. Compromised saliva production and the resulting dry mouth and difficulty eating. Near constant mouth, throat, and neck pain. Radiation burns and scarring inside my mouth and down through my throat, making it difficult to eat and swallow. Daily choking. A thyroid gland so burned by radiation that it no longer works and a metabolic system that struggles to regulate with medication replacement. And a lingering chronic fatigue from a body taxed by the daily struggle to function in a compromised capacity.
And I haven’t yet tallied the emotional toll.
In short, I consistently fight a slagging will to live. Like King Solomon, I’ve often cried, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecc. 1:2)
It sobers me, now, to think how close I crawled to the edge of human existence. To survive cancer and yet almost succumb to the cure of it. We pay such a steep price to preserve life.
Even so, I look at the woman buried in her despair with unapologetic compassion. Her suffering was more than any human should bear. And her faith questions came from a valid place. —Relentless (Zondervan 2019)
This is a small sample of what you will find in the pages of my newest book: Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. It’s raw, honest, unvarnished. Within these 240 pages, I share the destruction and rebuilding of my faith, a complicated journey to wrestle with suffering, sovereignty and more than a few doubts. It was both ugly and sacred, every bit of it. And on the other side of so many questions, I finally found what I was looking for:
This is what I want for you, your loved ones, and anyone who wants to believe in something far bigger and better than their worst circumstance. God’s presence is relentless. And if you need solid proof, Relentless is officially available for pre-order. And if you order before November 12? You’ll receive over $150 worth of bonus resources FREE.
My aim is simple: To create space for the faith conversations we all need to have. Life is hard. Doubt is scary. But our God is bigger than it all.
And He IS with us.