Jake and I enjoy watching football together. While we both agree watching the big game is much better on a big screen and with a group of friends, we watch differently. I am an eternally optimistic fan, and he is a quick-triggered pessimistic predictor! By my preference, I would rather spend the first half of the game buzzing around the kitchen, serving guests. For me, until after half time, it’s anyones game. Jake wants to watch pregame and by end of first quarter, he already has the outcome decided- if we aren’t playing well, passionately, he will throw his arms up, and confidentally and hopelessly declare, “It’s over! It’s all over!”
I thought about this over the weekend. Am I a fair-weather believer, expecting 1st quarter confirmation of victory… or am I willing to believe for a 4th quarter, overtime, unexpected turnover, and last minute miracle win? Do I know how to put on my rally cap and really believe, despite the score? Do I keep that faith will take me all the way through the game, even if we loose?
Faith isn’t just for winning. Faith takes you through; faith works even when it feels like you are loosing.
So much of this life, for me, is an intertwined mix of physical and spiritual. This week, I was physically sick. I let a sinus infection go “too long” and landed myself in misery. Pressure, ear aches, shoulders, neck, face, teeth- it all hurt. Finally I surrender to the mercy of a doctor’s visit. Two shots, two prescriptions, and one lecture had me on my way to feeling better. Then something unexpected happened, on day three of the antibiotics and steroids, the medicine started jacking with my stomach…. causing fatigue and other issues. By Friday, I was done. I left work around 1pm to come home and be pitiful.
During the week, my physical issues stretched into spiritual issues. And when I went home sick, that also translated to me spiritually giving up on believing God was helping heal my alopecia. Seems like quite an exaggerated leap, but to me it was very real. A bad case of the sniffles actually made me feel abandoned by my healing God.
I have been working to “hide” my bald spots day after day. I am so conscious and aware of my spots, I would try to flip and toss my hair to fall naturally to cover the wide open spaces, always wondering if they are noticeable to those around me.
Friday when I was physically weak, I laid down and subconsciously surrendered to be spiritually weak. My “even if” mentality sure didn’t sound true anymore. I sobbed and cried and slept. I didn’t want to eat or move. I went and re-read my own blog about my hair and couldn’t believe how strong I sounded then versus how weak I felt now.
I really thought I meant what I wrote. But now, I wasn’t sure. I was sort of expecting that processing my emotions and sharing that one vulnerable blog would put me in the category of …. “when I stopped looking for a husband, I found him….” or “when we stopped trying so hard to get pregnant, it just happened…” I realized that by saying I could handle the unanswered prayer, I was still trying to get my prayer to be answered. I said I would be fine regardless, yet, this is not yet fully true. I am not quite okay yet.
Sometimes we have another layer of mask to take off. We are complicated people, with years of past hurt, past ways of thinking, and current struggles.
I spent hours sobbing on the couch taking pitiful pictures of my bald spots. What did that produce? More pitiful emotions.
Sunday morning, I put on my rally cap. It’s not the 4th quarter and this game isn’t over! I am not fully bald, alopecia has not fully won. This is not over, so why would I quit believing? Why would I give up too soon.
“Miracles happen, when you fix your eyes on Jesus Christ.”
I can’t help but imagine how Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego would have rather been delivered FROM the fire rather than THROUGH the fire. And they probably prayed for their miracle right up until the flames engulfed their bodies…. I wonder when they realized they were actually standing in their unexpected miracle! When did they realize the 4th man was standing WITH them, and they would walk out of the fire without even the smell of smoke?! I am sure they only prayed to be spared from it. And yet the miracle was when God delivered them THROUGH it.
I have only prayed for this not to happen. I am asking God to spare me from it. I meant it when I said, “Even if he doesn’t…” but on hard days, even when you mean it, sometimes you have to decide again. We are human with real emotions. Sometimes, even full of faith, I am still sad, disheartened, and discouraged. But those emotions don’t define my truth and my reality.
Today I realize, the miracle may be in how He guides me through this. And the miracle for me may be in walking this out with grace and faith… the miracle may be in my having fear, discouragement, sadness, but yet not letting them cripple me or control me.
Maybe I have to decide again. Maybe you do too.
Maybe we have to decide, win or loose, faith carries us through. Let’s watch for the miracle, and open our eyes to what it really looks like. It may be grace to spare, protect, cover or rescue… or grace to equip us to walk through it. May we walk through it in a victorious way that strengthens and encourages others. A miracle may look like an “unanswered prayer” that gives Him glory, and sets us free to peel back another layer.
Each unveiled layer takes us a little more near to a Father who loves watching you learn to trust Him, I mean, really trust Him.