I was 13 years old when I was diagnosed with a muscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis. I had a year of repeated testing before the final diagnosis was made. Yet even with the naming of my illness, I was fortunate. The level of disability that came with my current symptoms was minor: limitations of physical exertion, muscle weakness, and frequent fatigue. I was a young teen and rather headstrong (little has changed in that regard), so I took the medication prescribed and determined to live my life to the fullest … rebellion and all.
Several years later I was working a full-time job that I loved, living the single life in an apartment located in the art district, hanging with friends, and finally—much to the delight of my father—pursuing my faith. This is when my illness turned on me. I became unable to continue working, my weakness increased, and the job and life I knew had to be left behind. It was the beginning of the pendulum swings of my health issues along with the pendulum swings of my faith.
Living a life of following Christ does not relieve us from the struggles of this world. We won’t escape heartbreak, failing health, the loss of loved ones, rebellious children, or financial struggles. What we will have is a personal God who is not only willing, but also desiring, to walk alongside us. Does that fix everything? No it doesn’t. We will still face challenges to overcome and wounded hearts that need to heal. These are the seasons when our faith is battered. There is no shame in doubt or disappointment; there is no shame is questioning.
We have an honest God, one who will hold us in His arms even when we are pounding on His chest in anger.
We are not alone in these emotions; pillars of the faith throughout time have felt the same. “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalms 42:3, ESV). Those are the words cried out by King David, who is described in the Bible as “a man after God’s own heart.”
Gideon, in doubt, kept asking God to reconfirm His promise; Sarah laughed at the impossible; and Moses reacted in frustration and anger at the difficult people he was charged to lead. Mary, the mother of Jesus, while understanding the saving purpose of the birth of her son, was still in anguish at the death of that son. Again, David’s words: “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalms 43:1-2, NASB).
We often ask why and seek our own answers. We come up with our own conclusions, as I did with my Myasthenia Gravis. At that time, I believed that as a Christian my life should be easier and this God I served was here to rescue me from difficulty. After all, I had finally turned my life around—choosing to put Him first. That had to count for something. I thought that if I only had enough faith, then I would be made well, so I threw away all my medication to demonstrate my sincerity and my commitment. The only thing that happened was I became more ill and when the answer was silence, my faith became more battered.
We are not alone in these emotions; pillars of the faith throughout time have felt the same.
Starting back on my pill regimen and feeling as if I had failed, I turned off the noise playing in my head as well as what was said by others. I then took the time to turn to the source of truth, God’s Word. It was there I realized God doesn’t always rescue us from the effects of this world or consequences of our actions. Nor should He. I also realized I was not alone in my heartbreak, even though there were times when I felt like my crying out to God to be rescued was falling on deaf ears.
…and when the answer was silence, my faith became more battered.
We get a glimpse in the story of the man who from birth had been lame, lying every day beside the Gate Beautiful. When Peter passed and was pressed upon for money, his response was, “But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’” (Acts 3:6, ESV). And the man did. What you may not realize is that the Gate Beautiful was a place Jesus passed several times while He dwelt here on earth, performing miracles on thousands. Why didn’t He heal the man?
David, when he grieved for his son, begged God to save his child’s life—yet God did not. Paul spoke of a “thorn in the flesh” that he repeatedly prayed be removed; yet it was not. There are illnesses, heartbreaks, and difficulties all throughout the Bible that individuals while on this earth were not rescued from. And there are illnesses, heartbreaks, and difficulties when others were.
Nearly eight years after I was diagnosed, God chose to heal me. Not grandly, but quietly. At a time when other concerns were driving my prayers, He spoke tenderly to me and healed me. I have no real explanation as to why then, or even why at all, but through that season I learned two things. First, that I can trust Him. I can trust Him with my disappointment, my doubt, my anger, and any outcome, whatever it may be. The second is this: everything we experience in this life is in this life. He has promised us a life to come with no tears, no pain, and no heartache. All of our circumstances and everything we encounter on earth is temporary; it has a beginning and it has an end.
There are times we may suffer life difficulties because of our own actions or we may suffer because this world is just a difficult place, but either way, we do have a promise from a loving God. David once again writes, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalms 30:5, NLT).
The night may be one night; it may be months, years, or even your entire journey on this earth. But when your faith is battered, know this: joy will come.