Fruits of the Spirit – FAITHFULNESS

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Picking up my Bible and continuing this writing ministry has caused me a great deal of angst over the last several weeks.  So much so I have put off even attempting it.  In the shroud of darkness that seems to have enveloped me, I sense in my heart God whispering the words, “write through the pain.”  I have resisted stepping out into these troubled waters and have bitterly quarreled with God.  I know writing can and should be cathartic.  Right now, I find it daunting.  Writing this article forces me to feel the full brunt of buried emotions and face brutal realities.  Yet, I relent.  As God is faithful to us, so should we be faithful to Him.  I truly believe this post is as much a lesson for me as it is for you and I suspect, if you stick with me, it will take us in unexpected, yet healing, directions.

Over the past few weeks, I have slowly had to admit to myself that I am angry with God.  Yes … angrywith God.  It is not a fast, red hot anger that cools just as quickly as it sparks.  Rather, it is a deep-seated anger that threatens to take root and live in my heart permanently.  You see, I am heartbroken and this makes me angry.  I know that God could have prevented it and this, too, makes me angry.  Because of this anger, I have struggled to pray.  In essence, I have been giving God the silent treatment.  Imagine the turmoil and hypocrisy.  Here I am, a Christian blogger with a ministry aimed at encouraging others to go deeper in their relationship with God, and I am admitting that I have found myself standing on shaky ground.  Never have I questioned God’s existence, power, or omnipotence.  I have, however, questioned His love for me and have often had the rage-filled question, “where were You in all of this?”

So, why am I so angry?  I am angry because my mom died just over two years ago.  She died.   I cannot tell you how often I have intentionally avoided using the word, “died.” It tastes bitter on the tongue and rips at my heart like jagged shards of glass.  As I sit here now facing reality and contemplating life’s unfairness, a river of tears flows freely and a boulder-sized knot forms in my stomach.  It is hard to breathe.  The heartache feels unbearable.  The pain is such that I have even found myself wishing to join her.  I want to trust that God is with me, but I still feel very alone in my grief.  She was my rock … my best friend.  I talked with her every day.

For over four years, I sat helplessly by as cancer ravaged her body (I wrote more about her story in Fruits of the Spirit – JOY).  I prayed continuous, bold prayers all the while believing God for a miracle.  It never came.  Cancer stole my mom.  I felt, and sometimes still feel, as though God turned a deaf ear to my prayers.  Even now, I sense anger bubble up inside me every time I see or hear the words, “cancer” or “survivor.” Ironically, I am a cancer survivor.

I have never been able to reconcile why God chooses to heal some, but not others and have begun coming to terms with the notion that I may never know.  In fact, I have almost completely given up trying to understand and am committed to fulfilling the promise I made during those final days to never ask God, “why?”  Instead, I choose to cling to faith.  “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact that what is not revealed to the senses]” Hebrews 11:1 (AMP).  When I am hanging by a thread and feeling as though I will lose my grip, I do as my mom wisely advised and I “tie a knot.”

Allow me to briefly explain some aspects of my faith so that you may better understand on what it is that I rely.   I believe that God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven where there is no more strife, sickness, suffering, or death.  I believe when Jesus rose from the grave, He forever destroyed death.  I trust that Jesus paid for my sins and secured for me eternal life.  This hope, especially since my mom’s death, has been my foundation.  While I will never be happy that she was taken from me, I trust that I will one day see her again.  Without this faith, life seems hopeless, comfortless, and downright pointless.

So, where was God in all of this?   I am still struggling to fully accept that He was there, loving me and my mom perfectly, all along.  Though comfort does not come quickly or easily, God continues to remind me in various ways, such as family and friends, prayer (yes, my angry, despairing prayers), Bible study, and even nature, that He loves us more than we can comprehend.  He wants to wrap His arms around us and heal our broken hearts.  We just have to let Him in so He can do just that.

Faith is a decision, not a feeling.  We do not lose faith, we choose it.  We cannot rely on our feelings to decide what it is we believe.  Holding onto faith can be a struggle, especially through difficult, messy, misunderstood grief, but living without it is simply unimaginable.  I hope you, too, choose faith.

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© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

 

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