By Stacey Philpot
Faith in Christ is the cornerstone of my existence. My awareness of his deep love for me and the knowledge that I am never alone, never without help, steady me throughout the storms of life. When the constant complications of chronic illness make life seem dark, soul-crushing, and unrelenting, the nearness of God’s presence shifts every detail of my life. Darkness becomes light, sorrow becomes joy, and mourning becomes beauty.
However, faith looks different for me than it does for many others. For some, faith might look like trusting God for a new job or the provision of a new home or vehicle. I sometimes pray and believe for this kind of thing too. But far more often, I find myself believing God for the strength to physically get through the day. I walk into the doctor’s office and stop to pray a prayer petitioning for “favor, mercy, guidance, help, and an opportunity to minister to all I come in contact with.”
Many mornings begin with me asking the Lord for strength before my eyes ever open. Pain greets me. Fatigue strangles me, and yet I have children to care for, errands to run, emotional needs to meet in the world around me. I am faced with a choice. I can accept defeat before the day has even begun, or I can walk in the belief that God will either enable me or send help.
None of this is easy for me. It’s entirely possible that when others see no way to pay bills, they feel no tension while waiting on God to provide. Not so for me. I’ve not perfected this trust walk. In moments of doubt I cry out, “God, how will I do this?” He gently reminds me I won’t. He’ll do it through me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
In recent years, it’s taken great faith and commitment to attend religious services, even sporadically. Mornings are least favored by my body and the physical acts of showering, dressing, applying makeup, and arranging my hair often leave me too tired even to consider navigating a church parking lot or lobby. Once there, I’m faced with a lot of walking, handshaking (not good for the immunocompromised), and repeated “Sit down, now stand up” instructions. There’s strobe lighting, which may trigger migraines, and kindhearted people who want to hug my painful joints.
Several times during any given service, well-intentioned but poorly informed parishioners tell me to “Smile, the joy of the Lord is your strength!” or “Why so glum? Jesus wants you to be happy!” Some go so far as to lay hands on me and declare healing over my body without asking, assuming I’ve never asked the Lord for healing. Some encourage me to “Have more faith because God’s will is healing.”
Not long ago I attended a Sunday morning church service. It was only a week after one of the most severe, jolting medical crises I’ve experienced. Not only was I still in physical pain, but I was still processing before the Lord. It had been such an act of faith to bring my broken body and heart to church, but I needed to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ so deeply. I desired for someone to whisper in my ear, “I love you. Jesus loves you. We’re praying for you.”
Instead, midway through the sermon, my face stung as if someone had slapped me for back-talking my mother. I felt my skin flush as the speaker explained how we sometimes contort the will of God to fit our circumstances. For instance, he said, “We might say ‘This sickness is teaching me patience,’ but we know God’s Word says healing is always God’s will.’ The man continued. Each word was more and more inflammatory until I felt physically sick to my stomach.
His message was clear: if you aren’t healed, you are living outside the will of God. Having heard enough, I quietly gathered my belongings and exited the sanctuary.
Someday I will be healed. It may be tomorrow. It might be in twenty years, or even when I meet Jesus face-to-face. Regardless of what day it occurs, it will be miraculous.
All around us are brave warriors, living out their own faith journeys. Perhaps their trusting looks much different from our own. Does that make their faith less than ours?
I can’t imagine an infertile woman walking into church on a Sunday morning only to be told, “Why aren’t you pregnant yet? This is your fault! If you only had more faith!”
We are all lacking when it comes to faith. If we weren’t, we’d be busy tossing mountains into the sea for the fun of it. What if we joined our faith together? There’s such power in the words, “I’m believing with you.”
Stacey Philpot is wife to Ryan and mother to Hayden, Julie, and Avery. She is a writer, goofball, and avid reader. Stacey has ministered for over 15 years to youth and women in her community in order to equip them to go deeper in Christ. She blogs at aliferepaired.com and chronicallywhole.com.
Photograph © Chad Madden, used with permission