I wish I could feel my faith. I know I have faith that God exists, that he made all, that he has changed my life and even caused specific things in my own life to happen. I believe that and I cling to that belief. But often I feel as though that’s all I’m doing–clinging to something I don’t really understand but know won’t let me down.
I feel like I’m stuck in a pool of still water. I suppose the change I’m asking for is one that often comes through hardship and I certainly don’t want that. What I want is to really know, deeply love, and completely trust the God I believe in.
When I wrote these words in my journal I had no clue what I was asking for. While I realize that the events of the coming months were not because of my prayer, looking back I can see how God was preparing me for the events about to take place.
A couple weeks later, I received two phone calls within the span of a weekend. Two family members had been diagnosed with cancer. On top of that, my cousin’s husband of one year was still battling the melanoma that was spreading throughout his body. I was lost. I didn’t know what to pray or even how to pray. I tried over and over but all I could say was, “Please, God. Please, God.”
In the coming months, I tried to have the kind of faith I see in those I look up to. I tried to believe that God was working all things for good and that we would someday look back and see His plan. I tried to faithfully read my Bible and pray and worship. I tried. But I discovered that sometimes the best thing–the only thing–you can do is sit and cry out to the only One who knows the ache in your heart.
In July we celebrated the end of my aunt’s chemotherapy. It was a welcome ray of sunshine in the midst of what was turning out to be a difficult year. My grandpa’s chemo had started off rough but they had figured out the issue and things were going better. As the summer progressed, I clung to that hope.
Fall came and my cousin and her husband celebrated their second anniversary. Oh, the joy that surrounded that day! As weeks went by, though, the melanoma began to make itself evident. There are no words to describe the next couple of months. December saw his admittance to hospice and steady decline in health. I didn’t know what to do for my cousin. All I wanted was to fix everything, to take away the pain that filled her and renew her joy. Again, my prayers consisted of two words, “Please, God. Please, God.”
In January, the day we all dreaded came. I went home for the funeral with an ache in my chest. When I saw my cousin, I could do nothing more than hold her and attempt to take some of her pain so she wouldn’t have to carry it. I had no words for her; no Bible verse or prayer. I just hugged her and cried with her. Even now, when I pray for her, I can’t say much more than my simple cry, “Please, God.”
While the ache of losing a loved one is a lasting one, we all breathed a small sigh of relief when the calenders flipped over to 2015. Twenty fourteen had been a hard year, one that has left scars that will never disappear, but it was over. Through all that had happened, I had learned the value of simply resting in God. I no longer felt like I was stuck in a pool of still water. I did not understand one bit the circumstances of the previous year but I was clinging to the simple fact that he is God and he loves me. And even while I wept, he surrounded me in his love. I discovered that faith is something that is both a feeling and a decision and it looks much different on the outside than it does personally. Sometimes, though, you can’t feel it and you have to make the decision to believe anyway.
Apparently, though, we weren’t done. Last week our neighbor’s daughter, a girl not much younger than me, was suddenly hospitalized and passed away a couple days later. “Reeling” and “shocked” are the words that come closest to how everyone is feeling. All I could think was, ‘Twenty fifteen was supposed to be better.’ I won’t lie, the words “why, God?” went through my mind more than once.
My family had tickets for a Rend Collective/Chris Tomlin concert the next day. Oh, the beauty of how God orchestrates our lives far in advance! Rend Collective opened with six songs, immediately ushering us into God’s presence. As the words to My Lighthouse filled the room, I was struck by how amazing it was that my whole family, after everything that had happened in the previous fourteen months, was standing with me worshiping. ‘This is faith,‘ I thought. ‘This is what I was looking for.’ I had tears running down my face from the ache in my heart but I could still stand and sing, “I won’t fear what tomorrow brings; with each morning I’ll rise and sing; my God’s love will lead me through; You are the peace in my troubled sea.”
I still haven’t figured out how faith works or how it develops. I don’t understand how my simple crying out seemed to lead to a development of faith. At the time, I barely even had the faith to pray for healing. I don’t understand why all of this happened–I don’t think we ever will. But as I was singing, I discovered a deep longing for Heaven had developed within myself. While I will do God’s work on this earth for as long as he has determined I should, I am no longer satisfied with this world. I was not created for this temporary place with its short joys and lasting pain. Rather, I was created to be with God!
This is by no means the end of my journey in discovering and developing faith. I do, however, hope and pray for a year filled with joy and healing for my family.