Living Hope

For a few years I struggled with progressive, chronic pain. What started out as severe migraines led to me practically missing a semester of school, stepping down from some of the things that I loved, visits to numerous doctors with the weirdest specialties, and having days where I couldn’t be touched at times because the pain in my body was so severe.

I have never contended for something in prayer for so long, nor had so many people invested in praying for something for me. It was simultaneously the most encouraged, yet the most defeated I have ever felt. The tension of those feelings made for a wild adventure on trusting God and brought up many questions about my faith. I had always been taught God was healer, Jesus said we have the authority to heal the sick through the power of the Holy Spirit within us…. So why didn’t I get healed?!

I had multiple moments of “mini miracles” where I would encounter God and the pain would disappear for a little. Usually those moments lasted a couple hours, but I did have a period where the pain left for two months before returning. While it was a little disheartening each time the pain returned, I am still convinced that with each mini miracle, God was transforming parts of me. He was depositing bits of faith. Showing me His nearness, His compassion, His love, and His power.

Eventually, I decided to attend the spring break trip to Bethel church with high hopes that God would heal me fully out there. The day came in Bethel where we met with Chuck Perry, the man over their healing ministry. During our meeting he asked those needing physical healing to stand up. About 12 people stood up, for various reasons, and the rest of the room gathered around and prayed. When they finished he asked those who felt a change in their pain level to stand up and share - about nine people shared, but I wasn’t one of them. I was devastated. I left the room and cried harder than I ever had in a public space before… my friend came up to me and put her arm around me and said “God wants you to know that He knows how much you wanted this, and He isn’t holding out on you or trying to be mean to you.” The words came out and I just cried with her.

Fast forward a bit and I eventually did receive healing, it's all a crazy story and if you are interested in hearing it come find me and I'll share it with you!!! But today I want to talk less about the miracle of healing and more about what it looks like to keep leaning into God when everything about your circumstances would convince you otherwise. Because I’ll be honest those voices telling me to stop trusting God were loud… but those were also the voices of the accuser and not the voice of a loving Father. tThe voice of the accuser only seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, where the voice of a loving father provides comfort and love in the midst of pain.

When you come up against something that begins to shake you, you have a choice of what to do: you can get crushed by what’s shaking around you, or you can choose to look at the storm and sleep anyway (like Jesus did in the boat with disciples). One choice is easier than the other, but that choice also leads to far more destruction. Something I want to be clear about is that I know this isn’t an easy thing to walk through, I don’t want to sugar coat it and pretend that the choice is obvious, but I can also promise you it’s so so so worth it to choose the hard path in these situations, every single time it’s worth it.

So how exactly did I find the strength to cling to Jesus in this moment? How did I continue to wake up everyday and remain faithful to Jesus when I didn’t want to? Well the honest answer is something that for a while made me feel like I wasn’t doing this, in fact I thought I was doing the opposite and not trusting God… because my honest answer is that I let myself fall apart and be a mess. As time went on and I have become farther removed from my pain, I have learned that that was one of the most beneficial things I could do for my faith.

When I let my guard down, I finally allowed Jesus and my community to come in and offer me comfort. When I did this I learned a whole new side of the character of God, I learned that a lot of beauty is born in messes, and I was able to stay faithful to Jesus because I released myself from the expectation to be perfect all the time. I learned that even in the midst of pain, God is close, His presence is always attainable, and He may not take the pain away in a moment, but He will always give you grace to lean into Him for comfort in the midst of it.

My encouragement to you is that if you are walking around everyday waiting for healing saying “it’s fine, it’s fine, I don’t care, I can take this” understand that, that is not living in hope. That is living in delusion. Because it’s not fine, and it’s essential to acknowledge that. You aren’t crazy for being upset and there is no need to pretend like you have it all together when you are hurting. If you don’t acknowledge that, then you will wind up in a far deeper pit than you started. You may start to blame God and resent your life or the ways He is moving in it, and that would be really sad. Rather, when you give yourself permission to grieve the lifestyle you once had, and the changes you have to make because of the healing you haven’t received yet, whether physical or emotional, you can open up your heart for God to come in and comfort you. Regardless of if the healing comes or not, when you keep your heart soft and turn towards God, He will enter in and give you something to go away with.

That something could be healing, it could be His presence, it could be revelation about something else, I don't know - it’s different for everyone in every circumstance, but God will show up in it. That is what living in hope is - believing God will show up in the moment, regardless of if you see the immediate healing or not.

Author | Tori Kramer
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