Judson's Legacy

A Godless World?


Periodically, my Google Reader will suggest internet reading for me based on my current subscriptions.   About a month ago, it suggested I read Godless Girl; the name of the blog caught my attention so I took the time to explore.  As I poked around the site, reading various entries, and exploring the recommended articles, it became clear the author was a transparent, self-proclaimed atheist who had been raised in a Christian home.

I know so many people who have grown up in the Church, but in their adulthood have rejected the faith of their childhood.  I have seen or perceived some reasons for such—they observe in others a disconnect between espoused beliefs and actual lifestyle, they get burned by people in the faith community, they don’t see the validity of Scripture in this culture, they only see “happy shiny people” who don’t deal authentically with the difficulties of life, so on and so forth—but whatever the reason for their outright rejection of Christianity, there is usually pain that leaves an abiding cynicism for the Church.  Godless Girl seemed to interestingly explore that cynicism with honesty and open sarcasm, while making important observations and asking critical questions that seemed to represent the broader experience of those who discard their faith. 

I was hooked!  And I was not hooked as an outsider hoping to proselytize, I was hooked as someone who feels similar tensions with her questions, sees some of the same ridiculousness in evangelicalism, and experiences equivalent frustrations.   My conclusions have been drastically different, but I have appreciated peering into her process.

One of the first entries I read hit right at the heart of my greatest disappointments with God.  In Comics and Cancer, Godless Girl shares her own personal story of watching her dad fight cancer with faith and prayer but ultimately relying on the advances of medical science.  She shares her skepticism over “miraculous healings” and recommends “when a loved one is ill or dying , feel free to hope for an immediate improvement, but trust in those who have tested treatments and medicines that you know can help.  [So that] even if your loved one dies, you can at least be thankful that it wasn’t your fault, your lack of faith, or anyone’s relationship with a deity that was at fault.” 

Her words pricked at the wounds of my journey.  Clearly medical science had nothing to offer Judson, and I don’t believe we lacked faith or were at fault, but nonetheless, God didn’t “show up” when were begging him to intervene.  It still hurts me, jabbing at the tender places of my deepest spiritual and personal lesions.  And I can understand why someone might conclude that God does not exist after such a journey. 

As expressed a couple weeks ago, I do have all sorts of doubts.  I have numerous questions.  I wrestle with God as I continue to live with ongoing heartache over the loss of my boy and other circumstances…

But my trust abides.  In all my pain, faith persists.  I see God.  Even though he didn’t “show up” to heal Jud, his presence remains undeniable to me.  I still believe.

So why my enduring faith?  Some might point to Biblical promises, the Church community, a hope for eternity, or other rational arguments, but in my darkest moments when nothing seems to make sense, I recall looking into the face of my beautiful, suffering child and seeing his blind eyes inexplicably reflect the glory of God while his voice proclaimed an understanding of truth, supernatural for a boy his age.  My 2-year-old son in all the heinousness of Krabbe disease, reacted to his experience in a manner beyond logical or reasonable understanding; Jud could see something my eyes could not see.  So I watched and listened intently as my Buddy Boo lead me to God.  All that I observed and felt as my son suffered and died was beyond reason—which is actually what proved to be essential in pointing me to “a deity.”

Godless Girl might respond by saying I’ve chosen the Church’s “only acceptable and ‘right’ conclusion—to re-affirm [my] faith.”  Meanwhile, she has “examined the evidence, prayed, searched, and discussed [her] doubts, [and] the only reasonable conclusion [she has] come to is that Christianity is false.” (Believers Responding to Doubt)

We can’t both be right.  And although I respect her process, I humbly submit that I saw joy, power, and wisdom, which can only come from a loving God, at work in my frail, dying son.

If you believe God exists, what gives you enduring faith in hardship?  If you don’t believe God exists, what keeps you from believing?

Categories: faith, Judson, Eyes that See

9 Responses to "A Godless World?"

  1. Dorci says:

    That’s interesting, Christina. I’ve thought a lot about these things, too, when God "failed to live up to my expectations." That phrase is tongue-in-cheek, of course, as it was not God’s actions that were erroneous, by my expectations.

    I’ve wrestled with these questions, that mostly wrap around the word, "why," for that last 7 years. God knew I would and it wasn’t a surprise to Him. I don’t have all my questions answered, of course, but I am beginning the journey of learning to rest in Him even when I don’t understand.

    The thing I find funny is that so many Christians (or at least people who have proclaimed to be) didn’t question the goodness of God, even though millions of people have suffered and died before, until they were faced with their own personal crisis. Did God suddenly become a lesser god?

  2. Dorci says:

    (sorry, my comment was longer than the box 🙂 )
    No, of course God didn’t change, our perspective did.

    For many years prior to my own questioning, I prayed periodically that God would keep me close and not let me stray away. I think He’s done just that in this time of questioning and struggle.

    The Bible says the Holy Spirit is our guarantee until the day of redemption. We cannot keep ourselves, but God keeps us, one way or another.

    The interesting thing about Godless Girl is that she’s talking about it. She’s talking out her lack of faith and I think that means she’s searching. And I pray she finds the God she’s searching for, and then finds He’s even better than she ever imagined.

  3. Tammy says:

    If you believe God exists, what gives you enduring faith in hardship?

    because although God has not answered all my prayers the way I would want…although I have felt at times he was not present…

    He has "shown" up and answered prayers…he has held me and taken care of me. Miracles have happened in my life..to me…and those around me..I have seen PRAYER work.

    I may not understand why ALL my prayers have not been answered..I may not understand why life can be so darn tough…but…

    I also have felt the JOY, LOVE and PEACE in my relationship with my father…

  4. Jolene says:

    Please keep blogging.

    I was going to just say that and that I didn’t have an answer to your questions but then it hit me. "If you believe God exists, what gives you enduring faith in hardship?" 1/ I believe God exists. (Then I got up to stir the spaghetti when #2 hit) 2/ I read you book.

  5. Cathy Wong says:

    Hi Christina!

    I believe God exists..but having enduring faith in difficult times is another story. I came across what CS Lewis said about grief and faith. "The tortures occur. If they were unnecessary, then there is no God, or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures were necessary for no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t."

    How do you keep the faith? For me, one of the "ways" is to read and learn from "people of faith".

    I love what you wrote…"in my darkest moments when nothing seems to make sense, I recall looking into the face of my beautiful, suffering child and seeing his blind eyes inexplicably reflect the glory of God while his voice proclaimed an understanding of truth…"

    Though I have never met Judson or you, Christina, I have learned so much from both of you and your family.

  6. Hi Christina,
    I loved this post. I think the part I appreciated most was how you saw God through your sweet Jud, despite what he went through. I definitely see God in him and in you, and am so thankful that despite the doubts and challenges each day brings, you keep hanging on. I know Jud’s life was special and holds even more importance then we can begin to imagine.

    Lots of love,
    Sandy Mitchell

  7. Freya Remmer says:

    I read your blog post a couple of days ago, but I’ve been thinking about your question and what my answer would be… I wasn’t sure at first. I wanted to think about it.

    There’s several things that keep me believing, but ultimately, I think, for me, it comes down to comfort. God is the only source of true comfort for me. That keeps me enduring in faith through hardship. "Enduring in faith" is a little bit different than having an "enduring faith", but I think they sort of end up working out the same way, right?

    Anyway, love to you, Christina!


  8. Thank you for engaging these ideas with me. Dorci and Tammy, thank you for openly sharing your thoughts. Jolene…your comment had me totally weeping. Cathy and Sandy, thank you for the encouragement and ability to relate. Freya, I am always blessed by your thoughtful and thought-provoking responses as you deal with your own intense hardship. Grateful to all who read!!

  9. Dearest Christina, I am a grandmother with 6 beautiful young adults.Four boys and two girls. Everyday they bring sunshine into my life. I cannot imagine what you have been through –the pain –the empiness–and the anger. I read and look for you everyday and am so amazed how you are able to express your self so fluently. I have wept more tears since reading your blog then I have in my entire life. I honestly feel your pain. I have asked the Lord to take some of that pain away from you and put it on me. I was raised in the military –so– we moved often. Your new home looks very comfortable. I would call it a "Smile on it’s face".I pray you will journey into your new home with love for life in our heart. You know Judson is with you in your heart and he is in good hands watching everything you do on a daily basis.Just imagine what a reunion it will be when our LORD thinks it is the right time. Lovingly "MAMA NICK"

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