When Faith Is Not Enough

The older I have grown the more I experience pain.  My own and others.

A few years ago we lost my husband’s mother.  It was unexpected, and badly timed.  She was preparing for a trip to walk the Holy Lands, a dream she’d shared with us since I was part of the family.  Her road had been rough, littered with illness and recoveries, and she was finally getting to a good place.

Our neighbor had a baby girl who died only a few weeks before my husband’s mother, just after Christmas. She was a little over 3 weeks old.  Tiny.  Precious.  Beautiful.  In a casket, like a wax figure, a porcelain doll.

I know other mothers related to me and friends of mine who deal with genetic defects their babies have to overcome daily.  Miraculously.

I hear of friends I knew in my old home across an ocean who have passed away – no older than I am.  My last memory of them is their laughing faces.  Car accident and cancer.  One leaving behind a spouse and child.

People I love facing heart break, betrayal and failing relationships.

I think of my marriage.  The years of struggling to understand, forgive, accept, walk beside and listen to another selfish human being.  I didn’t expect to be hurt when I got married.  At least, not in the ways my heart has broken.  One person yields such power when we allow them in deep.  When we trust.  When we open ourselves up to admire.  I think of the disappointments we have faced together.  Gut wrenching, heart breaking.

I carry around with me a veil of residue from each hurt and pain I’ve felt, whether my own or belonging to others I love.  A cloak of bearing up under all that has hurt my heart.  I didn’t used to have this heaviness.  Is this just part of growing older?  Is this just how life feels after so many years?

I argue with myself about Faith.  The conundrum.  My sister-in-law had great faith that our mother-in-law would make it through.  She didn’t.  We were all praying for our neighbor, that tiny baby girl. She left grief stricken parents behind, and two big brothers wondering what made them so big.

Why does faith produce such miraculous results, and still leave such gaping wounds?  What theology understands it and can convey it?  If His ways are known to the angels, who see His face, only when He commands them, then who here can truly understand?  What voice can make sense of if?  Unless God Himself comes face to face with us and explains the mysteries, who can speak for Him?

And He gently speaks to my heavy spirit.  You are small and knowledge would crush you, understanding would break you. It is enough that I Am.  But my childish pride still wants more.  Is it enough?  When Faith isn’t enough I’m left with questions.

And He gently responds, Then ask and I will answer you. Hope stirs – a flutter.  I discover that the tiny surge of hope yields the first small stich of healing. When faith is not enough, God is still big enough for my doubts, not troubled by my questions.

But, when my patience with waiting for answers is all used up, my heart resorts to anger.  When faith is not enough to get my answers – when it’s not enough to satisfy until God’s timing suites Him, when I am ranting within myself and frustrated, He gently replies, Look behind you, child.  See how much has been mended. Take it in, understand.  Be calmed and know I love you still. 

And if I do look behind me, if I quiet myself to understand what I am seeing, at first I only find questions still lingering.  But gradually, I see it.  The repairs that have been done, the changes that have been woven into the shorn threads.  I see where I have sabotaged His work too, in my anger and ignorant judgment.  And where He has started repairing even that.

When faith is not enough I begin to understand that God extends to me just the amount I need, so perfectly dosed I am not aware I still carry any. I am brought to my knees, broken in a whole new way. So focused on my feelings, my agony, even when the pain is not my own to hold, I have been my own biggest hindrance to faith that is enough.  Wrapped up in pride, determined to know.  Lost in my lacking, faith will never be enough.

God has never asked of me to have perfect faith.  He has never scolded me for not believing more deeply. Never has He chided me for not praying harder, or hanging in there longer.  Each and every moment all He has asked is to be God; for me to look into His presence and acknowledge the truth there. He is my Creator.

When faith is not enough, I am coming to terms with the fact that I cannot make it be enough. I am also coming aware of the healing that happens when I remember my rightful size in perspective to the One who created me, and all on earth.  He who is aware of every tragedy and is wiser and bigger than I.

When faith is not enough I am learning that it usually means I am trying to be bigger than I am, more in control than I can ever hope to be.  Wiser than is rightful for my human heart.  Just maybe I can learn to wait, to grieve and mourn and look at His presence when those feelings loom larger than myself.  Maybe I can learn, not how to have enough faith, but to adjust my perspective of the world I am in – the microscopic corner I claim – in relationship to Him.

And just maybe it’s not faith at all that I need more of… maybe it is humility I lack.  To acknowledge just how small I am, and how the understanding He carries would indeed crush me without His protective presence.

(Isaiah 26:3-4) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. 

(Isaiah 30:15) For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

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