Several of you have been asking lately, where I find my faith. After all I have been through, why and how can it be possible to continue living?
First of all, what is faith? Seriously, what is faith and how do you get it?
Well let’s be honest. It’s not something that you can just run to the grocery store to pick up. Albeit, that would be pretty convenient. When we’re feeling down, we could simply ask a friend to make a pit stop at the mini mart to bring us some, wouldn’t that solve all of our problems?
If only it were that easy.
Faith can be defined as “a belief with strong conviction, a firm belief in something without tangible proof, having confidence and trust in,” as stated by Mary Fairchild in her article on Thoughtco.com.
Some find it challenging to believe in something you can’t see or hold in your hand and too often, we as humans rely on that hard core slap in your face kind of evidence.
Hebrews 11:1-“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
How does one find such faith?
Many of us were fortunate enough to grow up with those seeds of faith and hope which were planted at a tender young age. This was true for me. During my childhood, my brother and I grew up going to church every Sunday with our parents, attending vacation bible school, confirmation and participating in all the usual church functions. This was great for my younger years. However, when I moved onto high school and college, my attendance waned as I became absorbed with selfishness, putting my own needs first.
I always needed God and knew He was there yet I didn’t pay attention to him.
Did I talk with him? No. Read the bible? Not really. My life was good-busy with college, parties, friends and social engagements. I didn’t have a worry.
I guess I really didn’t need Him back then, or so I thought. He became more of an imaginary figure that lived in the clouds and regrettably, I didn’t give Him a second thought.
That is until the greatest storm of my life swept me into a life of tragedy and sorrow. Let me tell you, there is no bigger test of faith than when your child dies.
When we lose someone we love, our mortality comes to the forefront and our life suddenly becomes real.
In my early days of grief after my daughter Lydia died, I had no choice but to cling to the only hope I had. I had to reconnect with God, to find that reassurance of His love and hope. My bible became my best friend as no one could understand the intense suffering I was enduring.
No one. Not my mother, my father, my brother nor my closest friends.
Because grief is unique to us all. It was the one time in my life where I felt completely alone. And it was terrifying.
Night time would bring me burying myself under the covers, clutching my bible sobbing uncontrollably, which would provide me enough comfort at the time to get a few minutes of intermittent sleep that I desperately needed. I pleaded and begged God to take me as the burden of grief was too heavy. Being separated from my daughter was unfathomably frightening which caused me to hyperventilate knowing there was nothing I could do to return her to my arms.
How does a mom deal with such a torturous reality, seeing that empty bed at night, her bright clothes scattered across her room, her Barbie’s, make up and artwork all over the house?
How could life possibly go on?
I grappled for the longest time why I had survived the car accident and Lydia didn’t. She was only five. In my mind, there was no explanation, causing me to live with suffocating guilt and condemnation. It haunted me, told me I was worthless and deserved nothing. My faith was full of questions.
Feeling helpless and hopeless, I incessantly pondered why continue on in life? And how exactly does one go on?
I began reading the word of God first hand. I quickly learned He would not let something happen without creating something more beautiful to bloom after. God is love.
Yet, it was not enough. We as humans, sit and replay the past, and question everything. Why me? He must not love me. What did I do to deserve this? Why, Why Why?
My soul was tired.
I had no choice but to surrender control because I had none, yet I desperately craved it. I had always retained control of everything in my life and suddenly I had none.
As humans, we don’t understand tragedy. We see it all around us every day but somehow we don’t ever believe it will happen to us. Yet strangely, no one is immune.
Those people whose lives were void of turmoil, I was one of them. I had it all. The American dream. A husband, two children, fulfilling career.
Then one morning it was taken from me in a second.
What did we have then? Where was God? Who was God? Was there a God?
Those hopeless days of darkness hovered over me, weighing me down. Panic set it, and I began searching, desperately for that flicker of light, glimmer of hope but all I could feel was the bitter coldness of the world. For months, I scoured the internet for stories and books about angels, miracles and heaven. I needed to know how we get there, what heaven looks like, was Lydia alright, and who God really was. I needed proof or so I thought.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”
Soon, I found what I needed to know. Finding peace that my sweet Lydia was there, resting eternally and present with the Lord brought me a sense of comfort.
Revelation 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I had to know the Lord better. I needed to find out more about Him because this was bigger than I.
However, looking back, all I really needed was Him. Why had I not done this before? Why had I placed Jesus in my pocket, to leave him there all those years ago?
Through my searching, I discovered this longing to be closer to God. Even though those evil and detrimental thoughts telling me to satisfy my aching heart, to be with her surely would alleviate the pain. I knew He was my only hope and my only way out of this turmoil.
Psalm 34:18 -The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
My faith provided a sense of comfort that nothing else could. Not that I had any clue how to read my bible or a mass knowledge of its powerful contents, but I knew it held those few shimmers of hope that I needed. Those few verses that I held tightly, carried me.
What did I have to lose? Nothing, because I felt as if I had already lost it all.
Matthew 4:4- Jesus answered, “it is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Well there it is.
This was the absolute reassurance that I needed. We can’t live on food and water, we can’t live on what society and the world tells us, but we can live and are to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. I needed someone to tell me it would be okay, that I would survive. That I would enjoy life once again. But no one could.
Romans 5:3-5. “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
So I began to pray. I didn’t really know how to pray, but I did it my own way. A few words here and there, crying, whispering, shouting, pleading, you name it I did it all. I prayed and believed in the power of His word.
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Praying for God’s hand in everything. Getting through one day at a time. Praying for healing in my marriage, praying to help me control my finances, praying for God to make those flashbacks subside, praying for forgiveness and wisdom to learn how to forgive others, praying to learn how to love again. Praying to be able to learn to love myself again and open my fragile heart to love others despite the risks of losing them.
The challenge is to place complete confidence in Him and understand that God is with us throughout our suffering. To know that we are never alone and believing that he wants us to rely on Him through the good times and the bad times. And that we shouldn’t wait, we should praise him now in the delightful times as well as the rough times.
Our life is not meaningless. He created each of us with a plan in mind and a purpose to fulfill.
The shallow faith I had been living in previous years made me realize how incredible superficial I was. It’s quite embarrassing now looking back.
I would attend church casually when convenient, rarely opened my bible, and was easily annoyed by those so called “bible thumpers” and those who would play the Christian radio stations in the work cars. I mocked and criticized them. In retrospect, I am deeply ashamed of my past behavior.
It was a time in my life where I thought I didn’t need God. I had it all under control.
Over the years I have found it’s not for us to know-the whys. But it is our job to trust. To believe and receive His peace amidst our struggles. He is there. His presence is all around us.
It’s simple. Without faith, we have nothing. This life on earth is so short compared to the eternal life that awaits us. Faith is not based on evidence or proof, but on truth and belief in what you cannot see.
Faith is a gift from God.
He has to be enough. I’ve felt the deepest pain possible and I’m a living testimony that He is enough.
Keep pressing on. Keep seeking the lord.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
If this word, the bible and history of Jesus has been in existence for over 2000 years, there must be something to it. It’s in every hotel room, on television, there are churches on every corner, and so much more infiltrating the airwaves.
“If you have tasted of Hell, you cling to the Lord of heaven.” Sheila Walsh, stated from her book The Shelter of God’s Promises. Isn’t this the truth?!
Part II to come…..