You open your eyes slowly, turning from your side to your back and struggling to focus exhausted eyes on the exposed rafters of the roof above you. “Was it a dream?” you ask the air, as you shift mind and body restlessly in an attempt to separate fact from fantasy. The events of the previous day run in a loop in your mind until you finally admit it to yourself…
“Jesus is dead.” The thought drops into your consciousness like a hammer on metal and you weep.
Like many people, I’ve considered Holy Week from the typical, Good Friday mourns, Easter Sunday rejoices, perspective. Death and resurrection. Sacrifice and redemption. Jesus does for humanity and humanity receives in return. 
But this morning I find myself examining it from another angle. I find myself wondering what it must have been like for the disciples and for the thousands who ate the fishes and the loaves and listened to the words of the Sermon on the Mount first hand to have lost their teacher? Their friend? What must it have been like for people who believed in and followed Jesus to wake up one morning questioning everything they had done, seen and felt on the heels of direct, tangible evidence that he was not who or what they thought he was?
These people had dropped their nets. They had given up everything on faith and followed this Jesus into the unknown. And now, after his death and prior to his resurrection, they face an existential limbo that must have been unbearable.
 
In the years since 2003, when I came to Christian faith, I have met (in person and online) many people who had and then lost their faith. Some would prefer to believe that the loss of faith is proof that these backsliders never had faith in the first place, but I don’t buy it. That’s the easy answer. The answer that allows me to have a false sense of security in my own faith and an assurance that I will never doubt or have a crisis of belief like those people.

But, like the disciples on the morning after Calvary, many of these folks have seen things with their own eyes and experienced things in their own lives that have given them no choice but to question the faith of their childhood.  Their stories fascinate me, even as they make me wonder if I might ever find myself in their shoes.
The disciples only had to wait a few days to have their pain and doubt reconciled. For others (many of whom have told me that they mourn and miss their former faith, but respect it enough not to fake it) there is no end in sight. Unlike the old saying, “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all,” I think it must be excruciating to have believed and lost. I pray I never have to find out…

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