I have a confession to make:
I have an idolatry problem.
One of the things about grief is that it makes everything sharper. In some ways it clouds our perceptions, but in others it makes things crystal clear. Our long-held beliefs either stand or fall when we have to put the weight of our whole grieving heart up against them.
My belief was that God was good. God was love. And in my narrow human definition of those things, I believed that meant He wouldn’t let anything hurt me. Despite free will. Despite the fallen world I live in. Despite the very real enemy of my heart. Despite the fact that bad things happen to good God-loving people every single day. I had this ridiculous notion that I was immune to things that didn’t mesh with my theology. And of the things that didn’t mesh with my theology, miscarriage and infertility took the cake.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around how some people who were desperate for children were denied them while millions of people were given the gift of being co-creators with God in the womb and chose to abort or abuse their children. It is so unfair. It is wrong. And I couldn’t make it fit into the puzzle I made and called “god,” so I threw it out as something I didn’t even need to worry about because it didn’t mesh with my theology and if it should ever happen to me…well, I wouldn’t survive because that would mean God wasn’t who I thought He was and that would basically end me.
That’s what idolatry looks like.
Here’s a little test to see if you have the same problem I do: If something doesn’t mesh with your theology, but it does mesh with reality, then your theology is wrong.
This has been my biggest struggle through this season of grief. I have all of the normal and healthy symptoms of one who has lost a child. On top of that, I have had to deal with so much anger–not healthy anger, but outright hostility towards God. Despair because I didn’t know where to find hope. Loneliness because the One to whom I always go for understanding had betrayed and abandoned me.
Turns out, God isn’t who I thought He was.
I had, in the words of Beth Moore, “carved a god out of [my] own image, assigned him the utmost and noblest of human characteristics, unintentionally envisioning him to be more of a superhuman than the sovereign El Elyon.” Um…ouch.
In my darkest moments, I was tempted to walk away from the Lord. That’s why this particular form of idolatry is so dangerous. Because the truth is, the one to whom I always go for understanding had betrayed and abandoned me. Completely and totally. The Holy Spirit is so faithful to come through in these times, though. The word He put on my heart during this season wasn’t what I wanted or expected. I wanted something nice like “comfort,” but what He gave me was “Repentance.” This just made me angrier, but He led me to read through Job, to still seek after Him, to ask for help sifting through this mess of my heart, and to ask Him to correct my perceptions of Him if they were wrong before I just threw in the towel.
“Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” -1 Peter 4:19
What I came to realize was that the one who had abandoned and betrayed me was my idol, not the real God. Even though it seemed more comfortable, even more logical to follow after this “god” who made sense to me, who fit into nice neat boxes for me, and who usually agreed with me, He showed me that He, the real God of the Universe was the only One who had never abandoned me. He was the only one who had the answers to the questions I was asking about my miscarriage. He was the one who died for me. He was the one who created my baby for His joy and for His kingdom. My questions and fears, when directed to my idol, fell on deaf ears. But when I direct my heart to this mysterious God who I have learned that I barely even begin to know, I am met with peace, joy, hope, comfort, and a certainty that there is a real purpose for my very real pain.
Walking through the loss of my baby with this idol I had made was pain, rage, confusion, and despair.
Walking through grief with the real Maker of Heaven and Earth is a deep but dazzling darkness.
If you are walking through a season of grief and you feel the Lord asking you to repent, I encourage you to engage with that, even though it feels so backwards. It is worth it. You, like me, can say with Job:
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you,” –Job 42:5
No idol can compare.
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