Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like... Yes, but it was not a thunderbolt kind of thing. A dear friend died unexpectedly during my second year at seminary. Gunhild was a mentor, a care giver, an inspiration and a friend to me and she was also an unabashed athiest. Raised in the early part of the last century, her father had made sure she was baptized but as a child he taught her to think that church was probably a lot of bunk. There were a lot of things that happened in her life that made it hard for Gunhild to imagine that there really is/was a God who loved her and the rest of the world. One chief example being the Holocaust. Gunhild's husband escaped from Austria at the beginning of World War II. With the exception of an uncle and brother, the rest of his family died in Auschwitz. When she died, I really struggled with trying to understand what had happened to my bright, caring compassionate friend. A foolish classmate said that if she had rejected her baptism, God would reject her. For months I struggled to believe in a God who would do such a thing. I thought I had lost my faith. But through what seems to me like a very strange set of circumstances, I found myself at a conference on death and dying. The speaker that morning talked about the fact that many faithful people find it almost impossible to express anger at God when a loved one dies. And since they can't get angry with God, they begin to think that maybe there is no God. A light went off for me at that point. It wasn't that I didn't believe, I was just really pissed. God was faithful to me. God was faithful to Gunhild. And I am ever so grateful.
Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through? In part the wonders of therapy and medicine. In truth, remaining within the community of the faithful even when I wanted to go hide under my bed or run away from home.
Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort? When I couldn't pray any other prayers, I could always pray, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless....."
Is "why suffering" a valid question? As we try to understand and grow within our relationship to God and other people I don't think there can be any invalid questions. We may not however, like the valid answers. I don't believe suffering is a punishment. It's simply part of the human condition. And God will not leave us alone in times of trouble.
And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate? The things that have been difficult have not usually had a finite ending where I could stop to celebrate. But I laugh more now than I did eight years ago. The "happy pills" are really helpful. ;-)