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Keeping The Faith

Keeping The Faith

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In dark times, it can be hard to trust in God: Faith and Youby Terry Pluto/Plain Dealer ReporterFriday July 17, 2009, 12:02 PM A friend for whom my wife and I had been praying was seemingly clear of breast cancer.

The news had been good for a few years.

She and her husband are in their 30s, and they have three children under the age of 10.

Answered prayers? Just this week, our friend was told that the cancer had roared back with a vengeance to several parts of her body.

So often, we tell a person who's gotten such devastating news that we're so sorry to hear what happened.

We may say something like, "Keep the faith." "But there are times when keeping the faith is really, really hard," said the Rev.

Bruce Riebe of St.

Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville.

"And I've said it myself to people whose faith was really shaking." Riebe mentioned a member of his church whose wife died after a long, painful illness.

"Father, my wife did not deserve that," the man told Riebe.

"She was a good woman.

And now, my son has Parkinson's disease." A friend of mine called to say his wife blew out her Achilles tendon.

Then two days later, he called again to say tests show he has a heart problem and needs to go into the hospital.

He is worried that if he's ill for too long, he'll lose his job.

He's an independent contractor paid only when he can work.

"They say God gives us only what we can handle," my friend said.

"I wonder about that." Don't we all? "Everybody's faith is tested," said Rabbi Steven Denker of Temple Emanu El in Orange.

"It's not just the horrible tragedies; it can also be the everyday disappointments.

A friend lets you down.

You don't get a promotion.

Your test scores aren't good enough to get into the school you want.

You have a sense that nothing is going right." On top of that, there's a feeling that you can't do anything right.

You say the wrong things.

You mess up your schedule.

You lose a little confidence in yourself, and in God.

"I tell people to trust God with their family," said the Rev.

Keith James of New Community Bible Fellowship in Cleveland Heights.

"But sometimes, I don't do it with my own kids." Bishop Joey Johnson of Akron's House of the Lord said in a sermon, "We tell God that we are giving him our [adult] children and will let God deal with their troubles.

Then things get worse, so instead of letting God work and the kids learn through pain, we jump in.

We hand them to God, then grab them back." One of my favorite faith authors is Philip Yancey, who wrote a book called "Disappointment With God." Some people are afraid to admit that feeling, but virtually everyone lands in that ditch somewhere along their spiritual journey.

Sometimes, we drive into it with lousy decisions.

Other times we are knocked off the road by something we never saw coming in our direction.

Riebe said that when we are in the middle of a major illness or losing a job, it seems as if the last ounces of faith are oozing through our fingers.

For some of us, our dreams are broken, our confidence is cracking.

We're not sure where God is in the midst of the pain.

Is God listening? Does anyone care? We pray anyway.

Maybe not for long.

Maybe through tears.

But in many ways, that's the ultimate demonstration of faith.
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