I am a Christian.
Before I write anymore, let me make some things clear about what being a Christian means to me.
It means I believe that Jesus, the Son of God, left heaven and came to earth. He lived a perfect life yet felt the full range of human emotions and physical feelings. His earthly ministry was short yet powerful. He healed sick, made blind see, made deaf hear, drove out demons and always did what His Father wanted Him to do. He knew his purpose from the beginning–to lay down his life as a perfect sacrifice for any who would believe and receive the gift of salvation.
It does NOT mean that I have to follow a list of rules and regulations to be accepted by Him. It also does not mean that I can do whatever I want because He has already paid the price for my sin. You see, when you love someone, you want to do what please that person. My husband likes coffee. I mean he REALLY likes coffee. He is also a morning person. I am not. Every night, before I go to bed, I grind fresh coffee for him and get it ready so that when he wakes up in the morning, he doesn’t have to fuss with it. I do this not because he makes me but because I love him and want to make him happy.
Okay. Hopefully you are understanding where I am coming from. What I’m about to write, even to me, seems to contradict everything I wrote above. That’s why I am writing it. Remember, I write to help sort out my thoughts sometimes. Lately my thoughts have tended toward the fact that I suffer from something that Christians aren’t necessarily supposed to struggle with–weak faith.
My faith is weak. Very weak. And I am ashamed of that and frustrated with it as well. You may wonder why I feel this way. I will try to explain…
The last few weeks–months actually–have been some of the most difficult I have experienced in a long time. My family is changing. Last week my baby, my eighteen year old, moved into her own apartment. A few months ago we moved our son into his own apartment over 600 miles away in another state. A few months before that our other daughter got married. When she posts on Facebook now, our names no longer match. All of these things are good things. They are also very hard things for a mom who has been a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom for what seems like forever. Add to those things the increasing limitations brought on by a chronic illness, a husband who has been traveling more than he has been home, and several bouts with the beast of depression, and maybe you can see why these have been difficult months.
There is one other factor, though, that plays into the reality of my weak faith.
This world is cruel.
A few months ago, a family from my home state lost their five year old boy, who was an identical twin, to brain cancer. His mom writes a blog that is simply amazing. She is hurting and sad, yet she stands strong in her faith. Another family from that area lost a wife and mom–her kids ranged in age from 18 down to 6. They are hurting and sad but they too are holding onto God. This past week I learned of the death of a family member of someone who I was once close to. She died of the same chronic illness I live with, albeit hers was a much more aggressive form. She also left behind 3 young kids and a husband. Another family I know recently brought their little boy home on hospice–there is nothing else they can do for him. They have been told to enjoy the time they have left. My heart hurts for all of these families.
I began to wonder what my reaction would be if I were in any of these situations. Would my faith be strong? I was ashamed to realize that the answer to that has to be “No.” I say that because, in times when depression hits hard, I lose faith. I wonder where God is, does He care, and if so, why do I have to keep fighting the same battle over and over again? I have even questioned if God exists at all during some of the darkest moments.
Over the last few days, a question has been ruminating in my mind. If faith can be strong or weak, and we know that is the case because Jesus once told his disciples they were of “little faith”, then there must be a way to build it up. If my arm muscles are weak, I can go to the gym and work them so that they get stronger. Perhaps faith can be thought of like that. Is there a way to increase my faith so that when tough times come, and we all know they will, I don’t lose hope in God? I increase my muscle strength by using them more and with increasing resistance. But how does one exercise something intangible like faith? I used to have someone I could go to with questions like this. I miss that person’s wisdom and counsel. I’m not sure anymore who is even interested in helping me figure some of this out.
Obviously, I have not come up with an answer yet. I wouldn’t be writing this if I had–I’d be working on building my faith instead of always feeling so weak. I’m not sure many people read what I write in my little corner of the world wide web, but if you find yourself reading this, and you think you have an answer to that question, I would surely welcome your thoughts. I’m tired of feeling like a failure in the faith department. I’m tired of feeling weak of faith.