by Heather Kaufman
Disappointed in God? That sounds rather blasphemous, doesn’t it? But if most of us are honest, there have been moments in our lives when we were just that—disappointed that God didn’t come through in the way we had hoped or imagined. There’s a tension we feel between the goodness of God and the incredibly hard things He allows in our lives. Faith is living with that tension—holding it, acknowledging it, running hard to God with it.
At the very beginning of writing Up from Dust, I was in a valley so deep I could barely breathe. I was the mother of two small boys at the time and was wrestling with anxiety that manifested itself as crippling insomnia. At the same time, we were walking through the death of my mother-in-law and all the complex emotions and struggles that brings. And so, I keenly resonate with the worried Martha of Luke 10—the Martha who is so wrapped up in a whirl of worry that she can barely recognize God’s good invitation to come to Him. It’s in those moments of pain and confusion when we feel our own “dustiness” deep in our bones and wonder if there is ever a way up, a way out.
In John 11, Martha is walking through her own dark and dusty valley. Her brother lay in the tomb four days dead and the one man who could have helped her had intentionally tarried. When He does arrive, she runs to Him with lament on her lips but also with faith that is searching for solid ground. “Even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:22 ESV). Jesus faces Martha head on and declares Himself to be the “resurrection and the life” (verse 25), but He doesn’t stop there. Jesus asks for Martha’s belief. He asks her to confirm with her mouth what she knows to be true even when every single circumstance screams otherwise.
What does Martha do? With her brother dead in a tomb, she confesses Jesus as life. Surely, she is shrouded in layers of disappointment. Surely, she doesn’t understand why she must endure such pain. Still, she confesses Jesus as Christ. Still, she runs toward Him with her hurt, not away.
Martha has progressed from a woman consumed with worry to one who clings to Christ in the middle of impossible circumstances and what—I wondered—effected that change? And how can I be such a woman?
Up from Dust is a fictional exploration of Martha’s life. Beginning in her childhood, it traces all the “many things” that burdened her heart and how she learned to surrender her understanding as she came to trust Christ’s above her own. God never downplays our pain, and He never asks us to do so. Instead, He extends the invitation to come—come with the pain, the hurt, the confusion. Come trusting in the stability of His identity rather than the shakiness of our experiences. Martha must learn to cling more closely to Adonai than to her hurt; and this, ultimately, is a lesson for us all.
We will face seasons where we are disappointed in God, but these seasons do not disqualify us. Rather they are meant to draw us even closer to our Good Shepherd who welcomes all of who we are with all of who He is.
My prayer is that this story would encourage us to remain openhearted even when life feels unbearably hard. May we pin our hope to Jesus, the only one able to lift us up from dust.
About the Author
Heather Kaufman (HMKStories.com) is the author of multiple books and devotions, praised by Kirkus Reviews for writing “a charming and well-crafted tale.” She delights in highlighting the goodness of God through storytelling, compelling readers deeper into the Bible. When not reading, writing or accumulating mounds of books, Heather can be found exploring new parks with her husband and three children near their home in St. Louis, MO.
About the Book
Martha of Bethany is no stranger to adversity. After her mother's untimely death, Martha shoulders the responsibility of raising her siblings—quiet and studious Lazarus, and wild and rambunctious Mary. Just as Martha begins to imagine a new future, hardship strikes again and her dreams crumble into dust. Ten years later, Jesus’ invitation to believe becomes harder to resist, renewing Martha's hardened heart, even as she faces an unknown future.
Did You Know?
Ninety percent of 13–14-year-olds believe there is no absolute moral truth, and 75% of parents agree. In the cultural war against Christ-centered values, vulnerable young souls are our greatest casualties. With the right resources, we can equip our kids with enduring faith. Here are three of the ways parents and grandparents can anchor this generation with truth and Christ’s love:
Share faith with joy. Engage children in fun activities when educating them about God’s truth. Fill your child’s room with toys, stories and messages that wrap them in the blessings and wonder of Scripture.
Upgrade from ordinary discipline into full discipleship. Instead of simple punishments and rewards, extend your parenting approach to include spiritual growth and character development based on Scripture.
Practice what you preach. Model the biblical truths and spiritual disciplines you want to instill in your children. Kids measure the validity of what you say by how well you implement the principles in your daily life.
Children yearn for hope, love and truth. With the loving and authentic application of biblical resources, parents can respond to their kids’ spiritual needs. We can empower today’s youth to inspire the world with light instead of falling victim to its shadows.
 George Barna, Raising Spiritual Champions, Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul, (Arizona Christian University Press 2023), 27-28, 39, 41, 118, 184.
-Lee Ann Mancini, Raising Kids to Follow Christ
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“What a better way to connect with readers. Yes, it happened to me. “I read your book!” a lovely lady said while I stood at the check-out counter. What joy! That could only happen at my local bookstore!”
-Janet Perez Eckles, Now I See!