The Dark Side of Living By Faith

Worship songs about victory, healing, and unconditional love can hurt like barbed wire to people desperately searching for a way out of anxiety and trauma.

There’s nothing quite so isolating as hearing “your people” convey a completely different reality than you live each and every day.

I’m at a point in life where I see the narratives we DON’T tell when we tell our stories of ancient biblical history. 

For example:

Before Moses was born, 400 years worth of people were born, lived, suffered, and died in slavery with zero rescue. They grumbled and cried and ached and longed for freedom. But no rescue came. And they died.

Around the time of Moses’ birth, a generation of boys were erased. Families lost their babies. Those babies were never recovered. Real loss that rips and scars and decimates lives. Those babies did not experience freedom or deliverance.

When Jesus was a boy, hundreds of boys his age were again wiped out by the government. Though Jesus escaped due to angelic intervention, no one intervened and saved those other babies. Families still lost their precious babies.

There are countless other stories in which we focus on the heroism and escape of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, David, and Ruth, but we gloss over the families, the children, the parents, and the grandparents who died in despair.

Both sides of the story are true, but when we teach only one angle we deprive people of the ability to make sense of unanswered prayer, suffering and torment and pain.

There were always people suffering and dying at the same time that people were being elevated and rescued. 

To oversimplify the issue as a matter of having faith, without ever successfully conveying to generation after generation what faith is and what it is not (which we still don’t really know as a whole), then we perpetuate a cultural myth that leads people despair.

Should we conclude that those who suffer for prolonged periods of time simply do not possess faith? Is that really true? Don’t we see throughout human history and in our own lives that the wicked prosper as much or more than the righteous? Don’t we see that it’s impossible to measure a person’s faith by the outcome of their finances, marriage, and career?

These are realities we must wrestle with and come to conclusions after seriously weighing the stories from multiple angles. And I suspect the stories only have a happy ending if we agree to adopt a worldview in which the individual’s outcome is not as important or as relevant to the “ending” as the outcome of the whole.

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