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A powerful testimony, via CNN:
In May 2015, emotionally hobbled from watching her son, Beau Biden, fight and then succumb to brain cancer, Jill Biden said “goodbye” to God.
“After Beau died, I felt betrayed by my faith, broken,” the first lady said Sunday during a publicly unannounced visit to Brookland Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where she spoke at a special service honoring the 50th anniversary of the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Charles B. Jackson.
Biden talked about how lost she was after Beau died, how her consistent and abiding prayers for him to live ended up not coming true, leaving her angry and distraught. “Chemotherapy, operation after operation, weight loss, still I never gave up,” said Biden. “I kept going, every day, I put one foot in front of the other, and despite what the doctors said, I believed that my son would make it,” Biden said of her unwavering belief in her higher power. “In the final days, I made one, last desperate prayer, and it went unanswered.”
It was one of her most personal and extensive speeches about her faith, revealing how shattered it was during that dark time — her voice breaking more than once recounting the details.
Biden said following Beau’s death that she went so far as to ignore emails from her own longtime pastor in Delaware, who was beseeching her to come back to the flock, renew her trust in God and worship.
“But I just couldn’t go, I couldn’t even pray,” said Biden. “I wondered if I would ever feel joy again.”
Biden stayed away from regular church attendance for the next four years.
Until she made her first visit to Brookland Baptist.
In May of 2019, during a campaign swing through the Palmetto State, then-candidate Joe Biden and Jill Biden stopped to worship at a service led by Jackson.
That day, it wasn’t necessarily the reverend who moved her to action, but rather his wife, Robin Jackson. “Robin came up to me, and she sat beside me and she said, ‘Doctor Biden, I would like to be your prayer partner,'” Biden said, recounting the day for Sunday’s assembled congregation of about 100 people, which included the Jacksons.
Biden would later say she wasn’t sure at the time what exactly a prayer partner was, or what being one entailed — whether it was some sort of pen pal or church buddy program — but something about Jackson’s kindness struck her. “I don’t know if she sensed how moved I had been by the service. I don’t know if she could see the grief that I feel still hides behind my smile,” she said. But in that moment, for the first time since her son took his last breath, Biden said she saw a path to recovering her faith.