“That’s it! I DON’T BELIEVE ANYMORE!” I spit out the words, like a curse, under my breathe as I struggled to push my half-paralyzed body from my wheelchair to the shower chair without falling; exhausted already from this morning’s work of simply getting out of bed, dressing, counting pills, making toast, exercising (which was now incredibly time-consuming and difficult but really only compensated for the standing and walking I used to do as I sauntered through life) and pushing around my house which still felt like a new, cruel obstacle course. I tried to tune out the burning being inflicted by my new enemy called “neuropathic pain” that I had to live with now. I tried to not feel any of the pain building up physically, mentally or emotionally and just get into that shower, but when I dropped my shoe again, I just broke down. I admit it- for all the thousands of prayers and hundreds of supportive cards and weekly meals and offers of physical help; for all my 27 years of loving and trusting God, of giving up my home and possessions and going to a foreign country to serve Him and serve at an orphanage; 27 years of knowing beyond reason that He was real and loving and concerned for me and that every promise in His book was true for me and he died so I could live- I suddenly decided that I didn’t believe that God was real anymore or that if He was, He was absolutely not the loving God I had believed He was. A minute ago it was, “This is too hard!”, then, “You are SO MEAN!” and “You don’t love me!” and now, simply, “I ”DON’T BELIEVE ANYMORE!”
Then a giant fist came down and squashed me…
Okay, so not really, but that’s how risky it felt when I spoke those words. What happened was real life- I took a shower, with the tears running and I felt alone. Curse words came flowing from a part of me that I had not felt since I was a teenager, running from God and hating life. It was amazing how quickly I reverted. It was alarming how empty I felt. God gives us free will and I used it- 27 years ago to choose to have faith and now, to deny it.
Now as I look back on that day 11 years ago when I first moved back to my home after 3 months of recovery and rehab from the car crash that caused spinal cord injury, I smile a little smile of knowing that God didn’t really leave me, but He let me experience how it feels to be alone in suffering without faith. That contrast led me quickly back to His arms. Before my shower was over I said, “Okay! I don’t get it!… but I will still believe. Like a child mad at their parent for saying no, I looked up at God, but still expressed with a scowl, “You don’t love me! How can you let me hurt like this and it wasn’t even my fault! Where are You if You are real!?” But even before I finished the last sentence I was awestruck with the obvious answer.
I saw the sea of prayers that were being prayed, too many, too often, to ever count. I heard the overwhelming chorus of kind offers to help me, I had received every day, in every creative way imaginable and then the tangible follow-through showing they had been sincere. I saw the myriad of compassionate faces asking me how I was and the hours of listening from their soul. I could not deny it anymore. This was the irrefutable evidence- God is real. He loves me. My mad child was hushed. “God, You love me.” I believe.”
Although I still still detest pain and suffering and have times that I get angry about it all, it settles me to understand that God set up the world to allow for free will and choices and that there is cause and effect that He doesn’t generally manipulate (like someone choosing to drink and drive and cause people injury). This ability to choose is the only way for love and goodness to be genuine. Instead He offers me freedom to come to Him and I have discovered that as I do, I find comfort, love, real guidance, and help for all my grief and suffering and hope for an amazing eternity of fulfillment in a place with no more pain. Besides that, for now, when I take it easy, give what I still have to offer and look around me for what really matters, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for each of the people in my life, the gifts I can share with them and the world and so many little things I am blessed with and enjoy every day.
Here’s link to a book that really helped me as I wrestled with this topic: Where Is God When It Hurts, by Phillip Yancey. ( I never sell anything or benefit from any recommended resources on my website, I just want to help).
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