A Lenten Lament/Rant

So maybe it’s because we’re in the Lenten season which is a time of lament, or possibly it’s because I truly am struggling with my own health these days, but I feel a bit of a rant coming on.
The kinds of testimonies I seem to be hearing lately at churches or reading about in ministry fundraising bulletins that outline how successful the ministry is going are driving me crazy (even though I must confess I have been guilty of doing this myself over the years).

Testimonies that ‘make the cut’
(That I believe very much can be true, but seem to be the exception and not the rule and if not nuanced properly can alienate many listeners who have not had the same experience)

“I used to live on the streets and be addicted to crack cocaine. Then I met Jesus and he took away my craving. Now I am clean, I have my own place, and I’m giving back to the community.”

“I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I was given six months to live. I cried out to God for healing and He took away my disease. The doctors were amazed! That was 10 years ago. God is good.”

“I used to be depressed. I wasn’t in a relationship, I couldn’t find a job, and everything around me seemed dark. Then I met Jesus. And He brought light into my life. Now I am married, I have a wonderful job, and I no longer struggle with depression.”

Testimonies that do NOT ‘make the cut’

(That I also very much believe are true and seem to be the norm)

“I was addicted to crack and was homeless. Then I met Jesus and invited Him into my life. I did manage to stay clean for a couple of months, but then I relapsed. Some of my Christian friends thought it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough or being faithful enough.
That hurt me.
I am now aware that I am a Christian who is addicted to crack. I hope and pray every day that this affliction be taken from me. I don’t understand what God is up to and why I still have to deal with it. All I can do is trust in God that there is a plan for me.
The end.”

“My spouse just left me out of the blue. I didn’t see it coming at all. Now I am raising my kids and trying to figure out what went wrong. I cry out to God for answers, but there doesn’t seem to be any coming to me. I will continue to try to put my trust and faith in God, as hard as that seems. The end.”

My testimony.
“I’ve been a Christian all of my life. I have tried to do the right thing all the way along, though I know I have failed miserably along the way. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That disease has been a constant presence in my and my family’s life for 20 years now. And it’s getting worse, not better. I have lost my ability to walk. I use a walker, a chair lift, and a scooter which are mostly used by seniors. It hurts me when friends my age make fun of these aids.
Sometimes I need to go to the bathroom really badly, that’s one of the joys of MS, but because of my slowness I can’t get there in time. So I end up pissing myself. Humiliating.
Sometimes I’m so depressed I don’t want to see anyone. Sometimes my energy is so depleted it takes every ounce of strength out of me just to get out of bed and get dressed. Multiple sclerosis sucks. I do cry out to God on many occasions to take it away from me. But that hasn’t happened. Every week I recite the creed which outlines what I believe. Sometimes when I read it I have to choose to cling onto those words, even though I often struggle to believe them. Is God really good? Does God actually love me? Is there really a divine plan in place? I will continually choose to believe those things to be true, even though there are many days when I don’t get it. The end.”

My buddy Tom, who understands suffering as well as anyone, wrote a song called ‘Hallelujah Everything”. The point of it is that we try to give God thanks for everything; not just the good stuff.
I’ll get through Lent.
Easter is coming.
In the meantime I will work, as much as I have strength, to say “hallelujah Everything”.
The end.

9 thoughts on “A Lenten Lament/Rant”

  1. Weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. I am totally with you in all of this. I generally date testimonies. Selfishly it’s because God seems to be doing so little in my life these days. Preach it brother.

  2. Dion, thanks for this rant on this topic. I know how you feel. I suspect that there are more people that can best relate to the second half of your blog about the ongoing struggles of life that God allows us to deal with each day.

    My mother is afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and each day is an endurance test. She is a fine Christian woman, but struggles with the “Why me?” questions in her thinking/prayer time.

    Although your blog doesn’t present any answers, sharing it with her will bring a measure of comfort to know that there are so many others struggling and questioning in the same way.

    Thanks for being real in your living!


  3. Thank you for lamenting with us. Testimonies like yours should always “make the cut” because they are where most of us are. (In addition to other things, I’m in my 25th year of diagnosed RA.) Victory in Jesus is often crawling across the finish line, beaten and scarred, with our hope and faith in him intact. Tear stained praise, I sometimes think, is the best praise of all.

  4. Thank you, Dion. For those of us in the faith who are less than perfect there is a sweet beauty in our relationship with Him on our best days during our struggles, and a grim clinging to the remembered beauty on the others. I have found God to be so close and patient yet virtually silent in these times, like the perfect friend who gets it and sits and hurts with you. I pray for healing for myself, for others, and now, for you, but I have grown to love that embrace in the agony, though admittedly my embrace back is still too conditional.

  5. Very real lament Dion. Life isn’t always fair but we do need to praise God in the midst of our sufferings.
    Look at Job, boy did he suffer, especially because he had lousy friends.
    Praying for you Dion.

  6. Thanks Dion! Your writing reminds me of a quote I read in one of Buechner’s books, that ‘writing is easy. All one has to do is sit at a typewriter and open a vein.’ Yours is vein opening material which pulls the veneer off everything.

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