My one-year old son had been sick since he was three weeks old: screaming, writhing, projectile vomiting every time he ate, anal fissures, bashing his head into hard surfaces, rashes, not sleeping for more than twenty minutes at a time, and more. My husband, myself, and our now three year old son had moved across the country the year before with our work as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In our assigned location of Arlington, Texas, we had no friends, family or church connections upon our arrival and our youngest son’s health issues kept me mostly homebound.
I had grand dreams of the ministry work we would do and the global impact that we would be a part of through our ministry with Wycliffe. The reality of life was a far cry from that. I rarely left the house, couldn’t build friendships, and caring for our sons was all-consuming, taking 20-22 hours out of the 24 in a day, leaving only two to four hours for sleep. I was barely functioning, let alone reaching out to the rest of the world with the Scriptures. As the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months and the months into a year and more, I started questioning God, His involvement in my life, His care of me and my family, His care for this world and the fight of good versus evil within it. In short, I had a crisis of faith and I learned six paradigm shifting lessons over the next several years as I worked through these and other questions.
1. Suffering can lead to a crisis of faith, even if you are—or thought you were—fully submitted to God’s will and to serving Him.
2. Even ministry leaders will struggle in their faith and will question God.
3. You can be faithful and obedient to God and life may not go well for you. I was serving God obediently and faithfully. Why was He failing me?
4. God’s goodness and care doesn’t stem from our perspective or what He does or does not do for us in this life. God is God and He is good, regardless.
5. If God doesn’t “fix” a situation, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t see us, has abandoned us, or isn’t good. Fixing it is just not His plan, at least not for now.
6. In the process of questioning and wrestling with God, we will get to know Him better—for Himself, as He truly is, not as we have been taught about Him, but Him.
My faith was shaken to its foundations. I questioned and wrestled with God for several years as I worked to rebuild my faith. And in the rebuilding, I found a God who loves me, even when I doubt or don’t achieve. I found a God who is bigger and more mysterious than I knew. I found a God who wants me to be more like Him and who wants to purify my heart, motives and beliefs. The purification process may cause me pain—which also pains Him—and may have caused some distance in our relationship for a time—which also pains Him. I found a God who is the definition of unfailing love. He is love and I am His, regardless of life circumstances.