Faith isn’t always easy. There are times of struggle and times of doubt.
I think that is what makes faith, faith.
When I was interviewed by Bailey last year, she asked me what advice I had for younger people in the church. I told her that “Faith is not Linear.” Looking back, maybe not the kind of thing you tell a younger member of our church, but all the while, still very true.
If you have been in this game long enough, you know being a Christian has its ups and downs. You also know that some things take leaps in faith to get over. The road is not always smooth…
This is my story of it not being smooth.
When I was nineteen, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, and every televangelist I heard was ranting that the city had come to pay for its sins. (And here I thought Christ had already paid for them.) They said that it was for Bourbon Street and Gay pride, and that the storm was a cleansing… I thought that was horse manure. How could God punish so many for what some deemed sinful of the few? I have read the story of Sodom where God was willing to spare a city for 10 righteous. I have read the story of how Moses intervened for all the Exodus party and God relented, and I have read the story where Jesus seeks redemption for the broken rather than destruction. Isn’t this our God?
Plus, the flooded areas of the city were predominately where people of color lived. Pushed there by poverty because who else would want to live in them. These are the Lord’s most faithful, who grew in faith even under racism, inequality, and a poor education system. …And yet, the most public of ministers of the “Gospel” claimed this destruction as God’s wrath. Could God be as hateful as these people proclaimed…?
And so I had a crisis of faith…
Had Love made way to punishment? Had Grace made way to hate?… Plus where in the world was God in the midst of the hurt, pain, destruction, and loss?
And then I watched as church groups mobilized. People who had been to New Orleans only once or twice, if at all – they came with their trailers and chainsaws and air compressors and pop-up shelters. Christian youth from around the nation and abroad came with the willingness to help a city and a people see what redemption and salvation meant in Jesus. It meant a world where the hopeless see hope, and those that live in night can see a Light coming through. We were a hopeless people in awe of what nature and a century of human-caused wetland destruction could lead to. That was Katrina. And these Christ-bearers brought hope alongside re-shingled roofs, two-by-fours, and their smiles.
And this is where I found God, and my faith again. I could have walked away – justified in the anger of televangelists and misguided ministers of the gospel. Instead, what I saw was God glorified in love, compassion, and willingness of Christians to echo the grace of God for a people in need. For me, this is God at work.
All in all, this was not an easy journey for me. It seems so simple summed up in story form. Know that it was hard. It is also a part of my faith. And even as I have weathered this storm, the road of faith can still be rocky.
And so my prayer for you, as you weather whatever storm you are in, is that you can cling to faith, that you can find support in family, friends, pastor – and most importantly Christ. And that with them you can make it along this faith journey, because faith is not always easy…