It cuts like a knife, I’m told.

When your world is crashing around you. When reality crashes in on you like an avalanche of snow and boulders. You are buried beneath the heavy weight of life – when you stand to lose it all.

Personally, I’m at a place in my life where I see the option of reality. Just a glimpse of it. Everything else in my life has been an illusion. The pursuit of things – objects that are crafted by men and women – I never knew these craftsmen. And the work of their hands? All destined to perish with use. Yet they appeal to me sometimes….a lot.

I know the temptation to employ cliches when that happens…to utter phrases that reduce faith to words – words that reflect what we have been told about what it means to wear the name of Christ. And truthfully, I’ve done it too.

“I’m claiming my blessing now.”

“I’m too blessed to be distressed.”

“If you have mustard seed faith, you can move mountains. Just believe and he’ll be healed.”

Maybe there’s a grain of truth in cliches like that. But I wondered this week how helpful they are to someone who has lost it all.

A Facebook friend in Africa just lost his young wife last week. A third party told me that she was poisoned by another woman.

Do you think he should be too blessed to be distressed? Do you think he should just claim his blessing now? Will a mustard seed faith erase the horror of his wife dying and leaving his five children motherless?

No matter what we’ve been told, faith is not the absence of sorrow. Faith is not a reductionist view of pain that compels us to flippantly say, “Oh well! God’s in control!”

Rather, faith is wailing in the middle of the night – gripped by a fear and sorrow so deep that you are paralyzed by it. It is gut-wrenching and debilitating. It’s when everything in your mind and heart tells you to just give up and die but you refuse to believe the lie and turn instead to your Savior for respite.

Faith is Jesus in the Garden “Overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” and saying, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”

Faith is pleading with God to remove the thorn in my flesh and hearing him say, “My grace is enough for you.”

Faith is knowing that I lack the perspective to see the final outcome but trusting (in the midst of searing loss) that HE does.

Faith is the awareness that I am wholly deficient in what I know about God – being aware that he is too big for me but living out every day trusting (with a faith as small as a mustard seed) that I will one day taunt my sorrows and my tormenter.

Faith is being real and begging God to use my pain to lead me to a place of humility before him.

I’m sure that there are many who are uncomfortable with this kind of insurrectionist talk because we don’t often like the prospect of contemplating this kind of loss and sorrow. But the truth is, it happens to everyone. It is reality. For everyone – there are no exceptions.

I’m at the point where I long for reality – to abandon faith by cliche and to get real with God and others. The more I see the futility of the pursuit of temporary things (and ALL things are temporary), the more I want God. And the more I want him, the more I want to be seen by others as a deeply flawed and imperfect man who trusts a Savior who is neither flawed nor imperfect.

My benevolent Father – I plead with you to lead me to a place before your throne and before the Cross of Jesus where I empty myself of all desire to justify myself before you or others. Please let me be fully known by others as I am by you. Please destroy all pretense and any attempt to erect a facade that obscures who I really am. If I am in pain, compel me to tell it. If I am joyful, I want to tell that too. But above all else, whether in pain or ecstasy, let me give all glory and praise to you.