Faith to Believe
by Tera Bradham
My body contorted in a twisted fetal position to escape the pain pulsing down my arm. Tears slid gently down my cheeks in silent agony as the words refused to come. I did not have the strength to pray on my knees; that was the position of a warrior. I had only the strength to crumple into the position of a baby. Tears began to cascade, and slowly, sobs began to wrack my body. Questions and doubts bombarded my mind with relentless fervor, and my receding faith could not muster the strength to fight them.
No logic, no wisdom, no truth seemed able to snatch me from the pit of despair that encompassed me on all sides. I sank deeper and deeper. There was no light, there was no hope, and there was no answer.
And then, amidst the suffocating anguish, a lone light, barely visible, shone through the darkness. Something from the recesses of my mind fought its way to consciousness: “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.” The beacon of hope abated the tears long enough for me to begin to catch my breath. Words caught in my throat as I uttered a desperately simple prayer. A prayer, I believe, that changed eternity:
“God, I have fought for years, and years, and years, and I can’t fight anymore. I never thought this world could break me, but it has. And I’m finished. I know I said that your grace was sufficient for me, and I know that I said your strength was made perfect in my weakness, but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live this way. Please don’t make me live this way. I have been hanging on by a kernel of a mustard seed of faith for years, and I don’t have it anymore. I have lost my life, because I did what you told me to do. Where are you? Please don’t let me live this way.”
I paused as one final surge of conviction overtook my mind. I looked up to heaven, tears gathering and threatening to spill over in another torrent. I clenched my jaw with determination, and then I stressed each syllable as I made an audacious demand from an Almighty God:
“Heal me, or take me home, but don’t make me live this way.”
Curled up in a ball on my bed, begging for God to take me home, fighting thoughts of suicide, I had finally hit rock bottom.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where you questioned your faith? Have you ever wondered what faith even is?
If faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1-2), then what do you do when you no longer have assurance of what you can’t see or confidence in what you hope for?
This is where I found myself at nineteen years old, begging to die. I felt like I had stepped out on the ledge, put all my faith on the line, and God did not come out to defend the story I thought He was writing in my life.
It’s okay to doubt. If no one has ever told you that, let me be the first. There is a vast difference between a doubter and a cynic. Someone who doubts longs to believe and she wants to trust God, but her circumstances have clouded her vision for so long that she can barely see God’s goodness in her life anymore. A doubter calls out like the father of a demon-possessed son in Mark 9:23-25, “Lord, help my unbelief!” A doubter asks God to reveal Himself.
A cynic, on the other hand, leans back and asks God to prove himself. A cynic does not press in for truth, but taunts God with a challenge. A cynic lets the prevalence of negativity in her past jade her path for any possibility of redemption in the future.
When I begged God to take me home after seven years of misdiagnoses and pain, I wasn’t cynical towards God. I doubted Him, but oh, how I longed for Him to show up in my life and show me His goodness in the land of the living!
Faith, by its very definition, exists in the absence of certainty. If you are facing uncertain circumstances today, you have a choice. You can choose to play the cynic, questioning how a good God could exist amidst your horrible circumstances. Or you can choose to have faith, face your doubts, stand on the Word of God and His faithfulness in your life, entrust your belief to a good Father, and let Him shake up your faith and hand it back to you in an overflowing well of goodness in your life.
It’s never too late to turn your doubt into faith. Wherever you find yourself today, there is hope! If you have found yourself looking at the world or your circumstance and wondering how God could still be present in your life, press in! God is not offended by your doubt. He takes pleasure in you asking Him to do what only He can do. I think sometimes God gets bored with our tiny prayers, wondering when someone is going to ask Him to display His power in a way that will shake the foundations of the gates of hell. You can’t do this, Friend. But He can. Press in. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in a way you never could have asked for or imagined.
On the other hand, if you have become cynical towards God, there is still hope! It is never too late to repent, ask for forgiveness for demanding God prove Himself, and let God transform your doubts into faith again. There is no wound Got cannot heal, no trespass He cannot forgive, and no door He cannot open. He still loves you. He still wants to reveal Himself to you.
God gave me my miracle when surgeons finally found my biceps degenerating inside my arm. But hear me clearly: whether they found the source of my pain or not, God was always with me, He was always good, and He was always sovereign over my circumstances. The purest form of faith is not in believing God will do what you want Him to do, but in surrendering your desires and letting God use your faith to transform you into the person He made you to be.
God will bring healing into your life. He will restore your faith if you give Him the chance. But He will heal you in His timing, in His way, in His perfect redemption. It may not look like what you wish He would do. Are you willing to have faith that the God who gave His Son for you knows just what you need? Can you give Him your doubts, give Him your faith, and let Him show you what will bring Him the most glory and bring you closest to Him?
If so, I believe He will use you to change the world. Regardless of your circumstance, you will be able to say like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego “but even if not, he is still good.”
Tera Bradham is an inspirational speaker, author, and podcast host. Her journey has led her across the world to deliver messages of hope and empowerment. She writes and coaches from her home in Montana.
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