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Tortured Hope

While standing in the yard pondering my recent run of misfortune and the many horrific circumstances of my life, a thought crossed my mind that this was decades long torture, much like as described in the movie, The Princess Bride.

To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose… The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right… Your ears you keep, and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, ‘Dear God! What is that thing?’ will echo in your perfect ears. That is what ‘to the pain’ means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.

Westley, The Princess Bride

This is not a new thought for me, but I realized I had never mentioned it. Tortured has been a thought since childhood. I was mercilessly bullied throughout school, probably because I was perpetually the new kid from moving so often. I had no close friend until I was a senior. Rarely I saw my extended family, and when I did, their jokingly poking fun felt more like I was being made fun of, probably because that is all I heard from people at school. I never allowed myself to get close to most of them to protect myself.

Other than two weeks of extreme pain while trying to keep from slipping into a coma, I had a fantastic couple of years of college and met the woman of my dreams. We got married and quickly things went bad. A miscarriage, a fractured tail bone, extreme poverty, totaled car, and a mutilated ankle were the highlights of our first year married.

So you may not be surprised that the following 16 years had many struggles with poverty, health, infertility, adoption failures, and another miscarriage. The two bright moments were Caleb’s birth and Madi’s adoption.

With our ongoing health issues worsening and Caleb’s death, the torture does not seem to relent. I no longer feel like God is near. I am not saying He is not near, only how I feel. My abandonment issues in the real world, from previously close people pulling away after each of our children died, are now moving into the spiritual.

We pray for relief. Relief from a myriad of ongoing health problems, home repairs, finances, and so much more. At this point, I’d settle for scraps.

Last night in our church small group, we discussed 1 Peter 1. The first part of this chapter confronts our trials and the hope we have coming through them. I shared how my trials have boxed me in a deep abyss and hope is a gossamer thread that the trial’s heat will melt at any moment. I clutch that thread, cutting into my hand as I cling on. What holds the thread? As far as I can tell, nothing. A shred of faith. The thread is weakening by the day and I do not know how long it will last or how long I can hold.

The thread of hope is composed primarily of believing if anything changes, it shouldn’t get worse. How can it? Oh, the same way it already has multiple times.

While a big component contributing to my lack of hope is instigated by grieving for my missing children, it is fueled by the ongoing silence. That feeling of abandonment which is so similar to grief. The people in my outer circle saying “God abundantly provides”, “Have faith”, “Ask for what you need” – can go jump in a pool of cold reality. My last answered prayer was January 2002.

“Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:8b

I believe in Christ, but I struggle to see the end through this heat, above these oppressive walls, any joy or glory. So I hold on to this thread, which hurts terribly as it cuts and rests on my bones, but I hold.


I know some of you will think this is depression. It’s okay, I considered it for quite a while. No, it’s the stark, cold reality that has forced itself upon me, and I am merely trying to survive it. Why did Peter write about hope this way if it was something with which we did not struggle?

Published inGriefFaith

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