Jesus graciously welcomes us: “Ask…seek…knock.”  But this unbelievable invitation has been my ongoing affliction.

I took him up on his offer during the darkest days of my life. My son’s fatal condition had guaranteed that he would only live hours at best. So I pleaded for mere moments with our boy alive, hoping for just a minute with him that we could cherish forever.

I asked. I sought. I knocked.

But my son was born without breath. And the thundering silence in response to my desperate pleas has amplified the trauma of his death.

Despite all the terrible sorrow, what I believe about God’s goodness and sovereignty hasn’t changed. But the practical outworking of this reality is so damn difficult. The intersection of despair and belief can be a debilitating collision.

How do I regain my daily trust in the One who had the power to save my son but didn’t? How do I ever ask God for anything specific again? The confidence required for authentic supplication feels impossibly far away. Perhaps it would be easier if the Lord never beckoned us to make requests in the first place. Then I never would have summoned the faith to beg for my son’s life, and maybe I wouldn’t feel the spiritual paralysis I’m currently experiencing.

It’s further complicated by the fact that so many others seem perfectly capable of asking God for the things they desire. When someone asks me to pray for something, Eli’s death whispers alongside their request. Both substantial and mundane petitions bring me back to the moment where our doctor said, “There is no heartbeat.” And the prayers I offer as a full-time minister feel dreadfully empty and terribly fake.

I’m a hollowed-out father with a thin shell of frail faith.

It will soon be a year since Eli died. But while I move forward with each passing day, much of my soul still remains in November 8, 2018. It still lies weeping at the locked door where I asked, sought, and knocked.