Faith is not enough
July 26, 2017 / By Sherie Heins, Trinity Federated Church
Growing up in rural New York State, I was part of what I always thought of as a typical family in a typical home environment. We ate dinner around the table each night; we said our bedtime prayers; we attended church and Sunday school and joined the church when we were of age, growing into a faith-based life. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how many families do not have that bedrock.
It served me well, as two of my brothers died at young ages before I had turned 14. I looked to Mom – as she held the family together – and I knew it was her faith that was holding her together. So faith always seemed to “be enough” as I grew into adulthood, gained independence, and started my own family.
The years went by and my family grew into three grandchildren as well as my two children, and they, too, grew into that much-loved and handed-down faith. And still that faith seemed to be enough…getting us through the tough times families face – mental illness, death of my husband at a young age, financial problems.
And then, in February of this year, my 11-year old granddaughter, Maddie, died totally unexpectedly, leaving a gaping, raw hole in my faith. Suddenly, faith didn’t seem enough. It wasn’t explaining anything; it wasn’t easing the loss; it wasn’t fixing a thing. In fact, I questioned my faith, and my God, and the good that could possibly come from this devastating loss. There is no magical formula in “having faith” that makes everything better or takes that grief away.
Early on in our grieving, I said to my son, Tad (amazingly good single-father of just this one child now gone), “I want to love God again. I don’t like being mad at him.” My son looked at me, smiled through his heartache, and said, “Mom weren’t you ever mad at your Mom and Dad? When they did something you didn’t see any reason for and couldn’t understand, it made you mad at them, but you didn’t stop loving them. It’s just like that with God. You’re mad now, but you still love him.”
At that moment, humbled by my son, I felt the full impact of what I’d been doing. I’d been leaning on my faith as a quick-fix…a Band-Aid, if you will, to ease the pain I was feeling. What I wasn’t doing was trusting that God is enough. Certainly, my faith felt stretched at that point in time, and wasn’t providing the usual amount of comfort a familiarity. My faith was stretched beyond my ab to recognize it as faith, but in that one sentence my son reminded me that my faith is still there, its bright light still shining, just waiting for me to come back to it. Just waiting for me to realize t when its light doesn’t seem to shine so brightly for me, that is exactly when I need to trust that God is enough. And in doing so, my faith will snap back into shape – perhaps a different shape, but likely stronger and brighter.