And that's when I realized that our God is not a God of if but when.
I felt like dry-heaving on the sidewalk but chose to wrestle with the emotions I was feeling instead.
This past week was hard. And after countless rounds of verbal abuse, I felt dead inside. My mind numbed as it gazed to recollect the events I'd just experienced.
Mustering all the strength I had left to make it to church Sunday morning, I brisked the stubborn wind and icy patches decorating the highways. I've never been one to drive in inclement weather, but I knew I needed prayer. The prayers may not have needed me this morning, but I needed them.
As I made my way to the altar, the Church knew my heart was heavy. The grief was written in the shadows of my pale skin and eyes that no longer hold luster. My thin frame only matched the evaporation of any hope I was still holding with death's grip.
But the more they prayed, the less I felt. I was used to receiving prayer and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was not used to feeling apathy. Because is anything really worse than being numb?
A Simple Question
Over the last five years, I've experienced more physical and mental pain than I know how to summarize. In the last decade, I've witnessed and felt the sting of so much trauma, I didn't know how many bags I was trying to carry until I attempted to unpack them.
Trauma runs deep. It cuts deeper when you're ignorant of the fact that it exists until it seeps out and tries to hold you captive from every situation moving forward.
So as I prayed for my family that morning, doubts glazing over my mind like sugary syrup clouding any ray of hope, I felt paralyzed. I started to think about every prayer I was still praying and never heard an answer. I wondered, "Does God hear me?"
And the thoughts flooded my mind:
"Why won't He heal my Dad?"
"Why hasn't he healed me?"
"Why won't this trauma disappear?"
"Why won't the suffering end?"
The more the ideas circled, the more they swirled and blurred my vision: physically and spiritually. As a Christian, I knew the answer to my questions. That although I may struggle with doubt from time to time, that's often a part of the journey of faith. And most times in life, we won't understand what is happening to us, and that is okay. But that's when I heard the Spirit utter this:
"But what if I do?"
But What If I Do?
Making my way back to the pew, I repeated the phrase in my mind for good measure.
"But what if I do?"
"But what if I do?"
"But what if I do?"
"But what if He does?"
A glimmer of hope struck my worn and weary soul like a match setting a whole forest ablaze.
While it may sound nonchalant or like a Christian cliche, that phrase did something to my breaking heart. I started to think positively. I started to imagine what would happen if God healed my Dad. What would happen if God healed me? What would happen if He took away my suffering and trauma? And that's when I realized that our God is not a God of if but when.
Not If, But When
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when a Savior would save the world from its sins. It was a question not of if but when.
In the New Testament, this promise was fulfilled through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of that Savior: Jesus Christ. Again, it was not a question of if but when.
I can't help but think that today, in all of our questions, doubts, and uncertainties, it is still a question not of if but when. And Jesus Christ keeps every single one of His promises.
Isaiah 55:10-13 further illustrates this point: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers, the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever" (Isaiah 55:10-13, NIV).
In 2023, the promise of God remains the same. We are living for and looking toward a time when there will be no more tears, suffering, sorrow, and shame. For some, that time will come sooner than it does for others but be sure, God isn't early or late; He's right on His time (2 Peter 3:9-18, MSG).
Revelation 21:2-5 (AV): "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true [they are accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy].” And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts I will give [water] from the fountain of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes [the world by adhering faithfully to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."
Maybe God's healing will come now; maybe it will come later. But one thing I'm holding onto during this difficult season is the promise of Hope. Now, later, or forever. It will someday come, and when it does, it will never leave.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MrsOKeefe
Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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