At one point I shared about my faith quite frequently on my blog. I looked forward to putting together a post for Friday Words of Faith. I enjoyed sharing about the things I was learning about God through my everyday experiences with illness, motherhood, and life.
If you’ve noticed, these posts have been few and far between lately. I don’t feel as though I’ve lost my faith however it has been challenged. About two years ago, I was really wrestling with how to reconcile who God is with the devestation that chronic illness can bring. Is He the cause of my illness or did He simply allow it to happen? I was not brought up in a church that supported asking questions like this so I really had to wrestle. In the end, I decided God was not the source of my suffering, however, I had the choice of how I reacted to my suffering. I could allow it to make me become bitter and angry or I could choose to grow through it and use my experience to give Him honor. It wasn’t an easy journey but I do feel like I came out on the other side a better and stronger person.
Fast-forward to the present – I still believe all these things. I really do. However I think there is a part of me that feels abandoned. I feel like I’ve tried so hard to do the right thing. We’ve tried every treatment under the sun. I’ve seen specialist after specialist and the bottom line is that I am still in pain every.single.day. I would say that I feel God has been silent but that would be a lie. The truth is lately I’ve taken very little time to listen. I’ve closed myself off and built my own little secluded island to avoid being honest with how I feel but that needs to end.
Honestly, I feel exhausted. It beyond physical fatigue. It is an exhuastion that reached down to my core emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I feel like I’m running a race with no end in sight. The only words I hear are “I’m sorry. There is nothing else we can do.”
Next to the exhaustion, I feel betrayal. I feel like my body has betrayed me in every way possible. I just turned 30 but feel much older. I feel robbed of my music and running, as well as many other things I enjoy, as my body no longer allows me to participate. I feel betrayed in that God would even allow illnesses like this to exist. Why would He allow His people to suffer? Couldn’t He at least give scientists and doctors the knowledge needed to develop a cure? I find myself listing off things in my head that I could accomplish if only I were healthy. I find myself somewhere between grief and despair but sometimes it is only when you acknowledge the darkness that you are able to see the light.
It is in this honesty that I find relief and peace. In pouring out my heart, I have created room for God to pour His Spirit in me. I realized that I do not need to know all the answers to feel the peace only He can offer. I once heard someone say, “It may not be well with my circumstances but it is well with my soul.” I just need to lean on Him and He will carry me through it. The road might be rocky and the road might be long but I have a promise that I do not have to travel it alone. It is time for me to come out of hiding and allow myself to be in His presence.
One of my favorite songs of all time is called “I Believe in Love” by Barlow Girl. I often call it my “life song” as it truly fits with where I am in life. One of the verses says, “Though I can’t see my story’s ending that doesn’t mean the dark night has no end. Its only here that I find faith and learn to trust the One who writes my days.” So here I am standing in the midst of my own personal chaos choosing to say that I believe.
19 comments on “When Faith Is Challenged”
Thanks for the hugs Brooke! They mean so much!
Jamee, I don’t know the battle of chronic illness but I do know the frustration of trying to reconcile a good God and a bad, seemingly-unchanging situation. One of the passages a friend brought to my attention to encourage me was the OT Joseph in jail interpreting dreams and then the cupbearer forgot him. Joseph did nothing wrong yet still he spent more time in jail. Sometimes I have to remind myself (frequently) that “God is good even when life is bad.”
Thank you for sharing those passages! I had not tied those to my experience but I can definitely benefit from their correlation with what I have experienced!
Such powerful words and thoughts you shared here today. I hear your pain and I echo almost everything you’ve written. Love you my sweet friend and I continue to lift you up in my prayers!
I am glad the post spoke to you! Once I started typing I really felt not only the tension of facing my emotions but the release of being able to acknowledge them & turn them over to God! Thank you for continuing to pray for me. It means so much to know I’ve got a prayer warrior on my side!
While I’m not a religious person, I am spiritual. I just wanted to comment on how you felt your body betrayed you and that you feel abandoned in your core.
I have also had those feelings. I read that when a person becomes chronically ill, there are phases of grief we go through. Grief in losing the life we once had. Perhaps read about the 6-7 stages of grief and use that knowledge to empower yourself to get through this tough time. Through it to acceptance.
Acceptance is where I am. Yes I have days of resentment. Yes I have occasional pity party days too. But this is ok! and I’m sure it would be considered “normal” to feel this way.
I was already on a path to spiritual enlightenment before I got really sick and was diagnosed with FM. I was automatically seeking to be or feel calmer, serener and try to find relaxation through meditation. It works for me when I really need it. Because anger and tension from stress makes us physically ill. We have to avoid it at all costs. At least I do.
May your day be as good as it can be 🙂
Sunshine and Smiles,
I most definitely think it is important for someone with a chronic illness to allow themselves to grieve as you do experience a true loss when you receive a diagnosis. That loss of “normal” is a biggie and I think if someone, as a spoonie, avoids acknowledging the loss and allowing oneself to grieve it, it affects his or her ability to find that new kind of “normal” with illness and find some peace with their illness. Of course there will be days of grief, bitterness, and resentment that pop up every now & then but I think overall it is beneficial for not only emotional and spiritual health, but physical health as well!
Jamee, the picture you have here is a quote I have carried with me for years. I love it because there are many many times where God seems silent.
Nobody said faith was easy. In fact, the Bible says it is hard.
It is most definitely hard! It would totally be much easier to throw in the towel but I know its worth the challenge to keep believing! Over the past three days I think I’ve listened to that song by BarlowGirl & Yearn by Shane & Shane a thousand times!
I needed to read this today. I’m not struggling with chronic pain; however, I question why things happen. I think we all do.
I’m glad it was able to help you too! I definitely feel a lot better now that I was able to put words to my feelings. Still no closer to understanding but I definitely have a peace I didn’t have before!
Dearest Jamee. Oh how I feel for you. Reading your post has comforted my heart, simply ingesting these words that are so near to my heart. The heart that has been aching for far too long because of unanswered questions and prolonged illness. And I don’t want to tell you that I know exactly what you’re feeling, because I don’t… my circumstances are unique to who I am, just as yours are to you. But I do know that we serve the same God and He is a God who loves us, even when we doubt Him. Who holds us, even when we question Him. And who teaches us, even through (especially through) the messes of this world. My heart’s cry of late has been, “I believe, only help my unbelief.” and I just keep crying it.
If I’ve learned anything about this journey, it is to take it one day at a time. Each day is a new day to trust Him with. And I know it’s not easy. Not easy doesn’t even seem to cut it….. this is downright hard! But He’s there and He’s making something beautiful, even from the pain. It doesn’t seem possible, but our God is not limited to the possible. And remember, this world is temporal…. one day, you will be illness free and completely and totally happy.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:17-18
I have prayed for you today!
Thank you so much for your powerful comment! My prayer this week as been that God would help me to trust even when I don’t see. I know He has a plan for all of this and it will unfold in His time. All I need to do is to hold onto that truth to get me through. Its not easy, that’s for sure, but knowing His plan is to prosper me and give me a hope and a future gets me through the tough times. Thank you so much for the prayer! I really needed your encouraging words tonight!
You’re quite welcome. 🙂 I’m so glad to be able to encourage you!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. -1 Corinthians 1:3-4
I have struggled with infertility and PCOS for the last 12 1/2 yrs of my marriage. We did the infertility treatments, i too questioned God’s goodness and character, and I was actually clinically depressed to the extent of being suicidal while it was going on. Thankfully, i sought treatment for the depression, but i had the hardest time doing so. Like you, i too, grew up in IFB churches and Bible College where depression was considered a sin rather than a medical condition. Your story echos mine. I got to the point when i realized i had to ask those questions of God not to rock the Baptist boat, but to make sure my relationship was right with my Lord. There were times when i felt like a hypocrit as I was a Bible college graduate, the only sign language interpreter for the Deaf in our church, and a teacher in the Christian school; yet I doubted if God loved ME. I thought He loved other people, but He abadoned me. “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” My heart cried. Thankfully, God changed my perspective over the last few weeks. Like you said, it is not about changing the circumstances, but allowing God to change us. Going to seminary or Bible college in my case does not make us more spiritual or special. Nor does it make us wiser. I think however it can make us set our expectations of ourselves too high. We think, “I should know this.” We fail to seek the guidance we ought to when we need help as we feel ashamed of our lack of faith. That is what happened to me anyway. Thank you for your post!
I feel like I could have written many of the same things myself! I felt so guilty for asking questions but once I did and actually wrestled with my faith (what I believed and WHY I believed it), I came out much stronger on the other side and have so much of a clear image of God’s love and His character! What it was hard and I still have my hard days when I question, but I can now hold a little tighter to God’s promises and the hope and future He has planned for me even when I don’t see it or feel it.
You are so strong. I hope that I would have your strength going through such an ordeal. My prayers are with you.
[…] Sometimes I wonder about how spiritually empty I feel. Do I just not have enough faith? […]