Fear & Faithlessness in the Face of Suffering

(This was written in mid-December 2015, when we were in the gap between having been matched to yet another child & the time when we knew with certainty that we would have legal custody. This most recent adoption wound up failing, in very similar circumstances to our previous failure. I’ll be writing more about that soon.)


A few years ago, I went through a failed adoption. While my wife & I were on our way to the hospital to get the child, we were called & told not to come. The birth parents had changed their minds & we would go home lacking the precious addition to our family we had been longing for. It was the most awful, painful experience of my life.

As I write this, I am again in a similar process. A child we’ve been matched to has been born, but there’s some question on whether we’ll be allowed to adopt him or not. In this moment of uncertainty, & remembering the agony of that prior situation, I find myself full of fear & completely lacking in faith. This painful anticipation of the dashing of my hopes is truly dreadful. My interior life is a terrible mix of pain & panic. As a follower of Christ, there are all kinds of reasons that I shouldn’t be living in this kind of head space.

Why should I be spared from suffering?

I have no legitimate reason to expect to be spared from suffering. Nothing in Scripture teaches me to believe that my life shouldn’t be hard or that I should be spared from any sort of difficulty. My desire to race away from discomfort shows that I have unrealistic & unscriptural expectations & demands for how my life should be. It may well be that God has ordained that I should go through this terrible experience & suffer loss. My Savior suffered the loss of all…I dare not entertain the worldly, self-centered, comfort-seeking lie that I deserve better treatment than Christ.

I have faced greater dangers with a better attitude

It occurs to me that God has graced me in the past to walk into more hostile & dangerous situations joyfully with a heart full of courage & faith. I’ve preached the gospel with great boldness to gang leaders in prison who I know could have me killed with a phone call. I’ve joyfully placed my life in God’s hands to carry the gospel to Muslim and Hindu-dominated cultures where I know other Christian brothers have paid a heavy price for their faith. At this moment, it strikes me as disingenuous & foolish that I’ve been graced to stand firm in the face of more serious dangers, but now I feel my faith buckling & collapsing in the face of disappointment. Oh, the weakness & fickleness of the human heart!

God’s truth should be more fully informing my thinking & my will

I must begin to walk in these truths. He will do whatever is good in His sight. I must bring my fear & my faithlessness & my pain to Him. If I cannot bring these struggles to Him, I have nowhere else to bring them.

29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
-Philippians 1:29

 I must understand that God may not only allow me to suffer, He may grant it to me to suffer. It may be His active, not passive, will for me in this moment. If He has ordained that I should suffer, then it is for the greater good & for His greater glory. My fear & faithlessness is my shame & dishonoring to Him.

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
-1 Peter 4:19

If He ordains that the worst in this situation should happen, & that my heart will be broken & that I will be crushed…then I will be crushed, & I must entrust myself to Him. I would rather rest in God’s hands than in my illusory construction of worldly safety & security. If it has been granted to me to suffer, then to God alone be the glory, & may He be my help.

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
-Job 1:20-21

Oh God, if suffering & loss is the road before me, grant that I may cry out in pain & tear my clothes & fall to the ground & worship. You build up & You tear down…You ordain both blessing & suffering…You give & You take away…& You do no wrong.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.