Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

Have you ever given up on God?

-Jay

Dear Jay,

Yes, three weeks ago, for the first and only time in my life. It only lasted about ten minutes and I was shocked at myself. But, for a moment, I gave up on Him. I had just received news that one of my daughter’s esophagus was spasming backwards (backward mobility). She was throwing up everything she ate. Her vomiting had not let up for the past several days. Another medical procedure was the only fix.

“OK, God, I’ve had enough. When are you going to stop pouring it on!? If you can’t take better care of us than that, why should bother following you? I quit!”

I imagine that most all Christians have felt like this at one time or another. I want to give a little context to my outburst and then share some thoughts on how to survive the onslaught of doubt when times are tough.

(By the way, if you’re struggling with God’s care—or lack thereof—read Psalm 73 and see from how Asaph handled the same problem.)

I suppose you could say that our family has had its share of physical problems. To put my feelings in context, let me give you a short litany of physical ails. I was sitting on the hospital bed when I was thirteen. The surgeon entered the room and said, “I asked your parents not to tell you, but we made a mistake. There is nothing wrong with your heart. When I cut inside I couldn’t find a find the hole. I held your heart right in my hand. You have a perfect heart; so, I put it back in and sewed you up. I am sorry.” For the next fifty years, because of the scar tissue from that mistaken surgery, I struggled with an electrically malfunctioning heart. I have been in and out of hospitals and on all sorts of heart medicines for years. Finally, while literally beating itself to death, the surgeons cut all the electrical pathways in my poorly beating heart, and now, only my pacemaker, whom I’ve endearingly named, “Repeat,” keeps me alive.

Now simply, I’ve had three knee surgeries. My colon was removed because of ulcerative colitis. A brain chemistry, mood issue called cyclothymia causes my brain to operate way too fast and then plunges me into clinical depression. Thank God for Celexa and Limictal.

Julie has suffered all her adult life with manic, bi-polar symptoms. She finally had an all-out “nervous breakdown.“ She was out of work and suffering for her sanity. What an awful time that was for us all. Thank God for our doctor, Dr. Griffin.

Our first daughter, Jessie, died in our arms.

Our second daughter has had the hardest time of all. She was shot in a drive-by shooting when she was thirteen. Her malfunctioning thyroid has resulted in untold health issues. She has suffered through life-threatening pulmonary problems. She has an auto-immune deficiency which, along with her pulmonary issues, leaves her in and out of the hospital. All it takes is the common cold to throw her once again into pneumonia. Last January, I stood outside the hospital room as her doctor told me that there was a good chance she would not survive until morning. In his words, “she may become a statistic tonight.”