Walking a dark path

Over these past few weeks, our family has been travelling down some pretty dark paths and, if I am brutally honest, I have found life to be a bit of a struggle.  My biggest frustration as a parent and grandparent is that I would do anything to protect my children and, in our current situation, I feel so powerless to help.

As a minister, I suppose I wear a kind of “mask”.  I have a “public persona”, the me I am expected to be and the me I want others to see.  The real me only emerges when I am in private and I am faced with the doubts and fears that lie deep within.

Of course, questions of faith emerge at times like this. I can appreciate the Psalmists Lament;

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from the words of my groaning?

(Psalm 22)


Of course, there are many well-meaning Christians who will trot out well-worn Bible verses and seek to assure that “God will use this for good”.  Whilst, ultimately, I believe God will, this kind of comment produces in me an anger that just wants to punch their lights out – in love of course!

So, why do I feel like this?  When we focus on “the good that will come, sometime, eventually, in the future” we deny the pain of the present moment. 

To see somebody in pain can be an uncomfortable experience and produces disquiet in the person seeing the pain.  So, like Jobs comforters, we want the quick fix, the easy answer.  We want to rationalise the unexplainable whilst denying one inescapable truth 

The pain is real.

I read some words this morning, quoted by Richard Rhor, that really spoke to me at the present time;

Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.

(Ram Das)

In many respects the message of the cross doesn’t make sense to me.  A loving God allowing His sinless Son to bear the sins of the world.  However, it begins to make more sense when we look at it through the eyes of pain.  In Jesus, God does not deny the pain of humanity but stands alongside us in our hurt and our suffering.  That, for me, is part of the message of the cross.

So, in this current struggle, there is hope.  Not that “one day we will look on this and see all the good things” but, that we are not alone in our pain, God is there.  God doesn’t deny the reality of what we face and He doesn’t walk away from us.      



11 thoughts on “Walking a dark path

  1. Thank you for being SO honest Sean! Unfortunately many people see Ministers as being superhuman; without troubles, struggles, mountains ( or fountains in your case; sorry it rhymed!!!!!!???). A confidential nurses ear is always here if you need to ‘sound off. G.B

  2. I resonate with this. I can’t rationalise the cross, but experientally that is where I meet Him. The Cross I have created for my bedside has a Heart on it. Yes, He is at the heart of humanity.

  3. The journey is not easy but we have one who has an understanding of the loneliness, suffering, heart-ache and dereliction. Thank you for being honest and open in sharing. We are a family that seeks to love one another and part of that is in ministry love and abiding prayer and for those immediately around you. Please be assured of our loving presence upholding you in the heavenly place where unique balm and peace anoints you and yours.

  4. Sean, this has resonated deeply within me today and you have hit the nail on the head so to speak. The journey is long and hard especially when you see a loved one suffering with pain and there is nothing you can do to help alleviate it. Your words today has helped me to clarify a number of thoughts which I too have been struggling with, so thank you for your honest and heartfelt thoughts. My prayers are with you and the family.

  5. Thank you, Sean, for your honesty and openness – what you say very much resonates with me personally. Will be remembering you all in my prayers.

  6. We don’t know each other but your pain is so transparent. You are in my prayers Sean. When one member of the body of Christ is in pain we share that pain with you. May the events in your life become easier and God’s light will shine through.

  7. I agree with all the above. Honesty is vital: although there is always going to be a sense of “performance” is carrying out our duties (especially leading worship) there must also be honesty. I have read of ministers pulling themselves to pieces because they felt they had to constantly project a happy and positive image to their congregations while inwardly going through hell.

  8. Sean, at times like this we feel defeated and can only ask ‘why’? I feel so deeply for you and your family, especially Hannah and Daniel. You are all hurting and I pray that the Lord will be very close and help you through this difficult time. Isaac will be born into a loving family and I pray that the Lord will bless him greatly.

  9. Thank you Sean, at the moment as you know I am sharing the same pain and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness in my current situation. Thank you for the concern you have shown for me, let me be there for you, maybe we can support each other for what are going to be some difficult months for both our families. All my love Sylvia

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