The Realist Laments: Hebrews 11

The Realist Laments: Hebrews 11

Somehow, I think I imagined faith differently as a child.

I thought faith was a fire that would always burn brightly if I fed it with the right kindling. But now. Now I see that fire of faith as if it were lit on a tiny raft, adrift in a powerful ocean, with kindling a rare commodity of the sea.

Depression: A wave threatening to overcome my fire, but failing to put it out.

Breast cancer: A stronger wave, lifting the raft, so my fire floated above the waters and I glimpsed more clearly everything surrounding me. And it was almost beautiful, being tossed upward by that terrible wave. And then … 

Job loss: The wave that nearly sunk the raft. 


How can it be, Lord, that earthly rejection, being deemed unnecessary, was more painful to me than a cancer?

And how can you expect me to know you love me when the waves keep coming? It’s almost as if the waves are both the impetus that might hurl me toward you and the enemy that might douse my faithful fire. Is life always going to be like this, God? Wave after wave …  

Even now, when I look at my bills and compare them with my bank statement, I’m not sure you love me, God. That is, I know in my head that you do, but my heart sometimes requires evidence. (The kind of evidence I can hold in my hands, I admit.) Is living by faith simply coming to terms with the fact that you never promised me that kind of evidence or reward in the first place?

By faith I have hoped for things promised.

The trouble is, I’m not sure which is harder: understanding exactly what it is you’ve promised me, God, or living by faith. I understand that you never promised me a house, but I cling to it anyway. And maybe you never promised me a successful career or a long life, but I cling to those desires anyway. Are you promising me an eternal Sabbath with you, Lord? Is that to be my reward for a faithful life, for keeping the fire lit?

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Now, you must understand, God, I don’t mean to sound disappointed. And it isn’t that I don’t want my fire to survive the ocean, because I do. More than anything. And sometimes, in a certain light, the water sparkles, reflecting my fire, and I know why you’ve put me at sea.

It’s just I never really counted on the relentless toll of the waves.


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Meet Tamara Rice

    Tam is a lover of words and Jesus and family, though perhaps not in that order. She’s an editor, writer, a breast cancer survivor, and an advocate for mental health and for victims of sexual abuse.