I find it easier to draw close to God in times of pain and difficulty. I know this probably sounds weird. It’s as if during the good times, life itself is enough to sustain me, but when things get tough I need to search for something more. I need more than life itself just to get me through the day. And I usually look to God.
This is one of the reasons why, if asked, I’ll usually tell people I became a Christian after my husband died. Because it was at this point that I first had a desperate need for God in my life. (The full story is a lot more complicated than that, but sometimes it’s easier to tell the shortened version.)
There are a lot of problems with drawing closer to God only when I have a need for Him. I’m starting to think that maybe this is one of the reasons why the happiness in my life has been tempered: human happiness, rather than joy, given freely and abundantly by the grace of God. But I think the most fundamental problem with living life this way has been how it allows me to question God and God’s will.
Now, I believe it’s natural to question things in relation to faith. Life, and theology, are complex. As I’ve said before, I don’t claim to be any kind of expert. However the questions I found myself asking were big ones. And difficult ones. For example:
As a result of my husband’s death I found myself drawing close to God. Does this mean my husband had to die to enable me to strengthen my relationship with God?
In my heart, I know the answer to this question is no. My heart, deep down, understands that God simply used the situation of my husband’s death to create something beautiful, to strengthen our relationship. His death was not God’s will or planning, but rather a result of the imperfect, broken world we live in.
My head, on the other hand, thinks the question is perfectly valid. And it goes on to all those other standard big questions about religion. If God is so loving, why does He allow suffering? Why do bad things happen at all? Does God intervene in humanity? I could go on, but I won’t. I don’t have the answers to these questions. I don’t expect I ever will.
My husband’s death was a long time ago. My life has changed entirely since then. I’ve come to find happiness. Maybe even joy. And in finding contentment in life I’ve let the closeness I had to God drift away. It hasn’t disappeared entirely, but it is not as powerful as it once was.
My fear now, as I once again experience loss, is that same question. Did I cause this so that God can draw me close once more?
I pray, as I write this, that this question will fade from my mind. That it will not haunt me as it once did. That I will draw closer to God in this grief, and that I will cling to that closeness once the fog of grief lifts. And maybe in this closeness I will begin to comprehend what joy could be.