The Ultimate Test

A woman starring off, The privilege and cost of courageous compassion

The Ultimate Test

I do not have the answer for why we get to experience these things here on earth, but I also do not know why we get to partake in blessings and treasures when we are merely passing through.

On December 30th, 2021, I decided that I wanted 2022 to be different than 2021. While I do not typically set New Year's Resolutions, I do passionately pursue and accomplish any goals I set. In 2022, I decided that I wanted to have more gratitude. 

Since 2019, I feel that I have lost the art of gratefulness. And while I am still capable of being thankful, I have noticed that after two years of physical and mental torture, my stamina in this department is weak--not on purpose and not by choice, but as the result of how I've been living. 

Unfortunately, it has been easier for me to complain than to be optimistic. It has been more comfortable for me to call a day "bad" when one thing goes wrong than call it a good day with a few hiccups.

Because 2021 was hard. Most days were filled with doubt and insecurities, anxieties swirling with depressed moods. My inability to find joy faced fears and tears, desperation and heartache, isolation and retreat. My addiction to busyness and productivity sucked the pleasure out of living. I questioned my purpose and fought demons many know nothing about. I tasted the bitterness of mental and physical health, and it is a hard pill to swallow. I felt loved by some and rejected by others. I lost sight of who I am at times and longed for the girl I used to be.

Sometimes the most dangerous place one can live is inside their mind.

New Goals, New Heights

But a few days before 2022, I decided that I would seek joy in the Lord every day. I declared that I would be ambitious to live what I write and love while I live. I stated that I am on a mission to help seek and save the lost wherever that leads and whatever it costs. I affirmed that I would no longer allow the Father of Lies to rob me of the blessings my King, Jesus Christ has given me.

I truly felt like God was breaking chains and redefining what I thought about myself. I experienced a week with little anxiety or depression and felt normal. I thought, "this is what freedom feels like." 

And then, I got COVID-19. 

Correction, I currently have COVID-19, but you get the point. 

It sucks. 

I am pretty miserable. 

I feel like someone took a sledgehammer to my sinus cavities. 

I have cried a lot.

My health anxiety has skyrocketed. 

Just Maybe

But maybe God is allowing me to contract COVID-19 not because He wants me to be sick but because He is still working on transforming me in a way nothing else could. I am confident, even now, that He will use every single thing that happens to me for my good and His glory. 

My God is a good, holy, and worthy God no matter the circumstances I face. I know that He does not want any person to experience COVID-19, and His heart breaks for every person that has been gravely impacted by it (dead or alive). But COVID-19 is just one aftermath of living in a wildly broken and insanely messy world after the fall. 

I will not pretend to explain or understand the families impacted by this deadly virus. 

I will not act like this is a common cold to some because I know that to others it has taken those they love. 

I do not have the answer for why we get to experience these things here on earth, but I also do not know why we get to partake in blessings and treasures when we are merely passing through. 

"We are only strangers traveling through this world like our ancestors. Our time on earth is like a passing shadow, and we cannot stop it" (1 Chronicles 29:15, Easy Read Version). 

To Face My Fears

But this I know is true: 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, New International Version). 

God works for the good of His people, and He works through all things. COVID-19, the flu, colds, sickness, death, you name it, and He is bigger, stronger, mightier to move mountains, jump rivers, and cross oceans according to His will in Christ Jesus. 

And for myself, I cannot think of another way that God would allow me to face my fears head-on than to contract and recover from COVID-19 (I am speaking that one into prophetic healing and existence). 

To face the fear of sickness because I often feel like a hypochondriac. 

To face the fear of COVID-19 because I have lived in fear of what would happen if I contracted it for the last two years. 

To face the fear of rest (as if it were a sin).

To face the fear of missing work as if it impacts my identity and image.

To face the fear of canceling all my plans and schedules to become well.

To face the fear of not being productive and realizing that Christian productivity is faithfulness to Jesus. 

To face the fear of not pushing myself 24/7, 365 days a year, because I am not God.

To face the fear of isolation because I have never felt so alone.

To face the fear of being alone with my mind because how can I leave when it is a part of me?

To face the fear of not working out for over a week, losing progress on goals, and maybe realizing that what is more important is the health I save by letting go of the fitness I lost. 

How else would God take my eyes off me and my anxiety, my depression, and my circumstances to replace them with Him and Him alone?

Today Is the Day

Today marks my seventh day of rest since getting sick, and I am slowly learning to value the importance of taking care of myself and listening to my body. 

I know that rest is not a sin. I know that getting over this will be good for me. I recognize that hard things breed beautiful results even if they don't feel right, or good right now.

And yet, I still have fears.

I am still anxious about missing work, getting caught up on work, and making a full recovery. 

I am often overwhelmed with how to spend my days and combatting the god of busyness by the hour.

I am still learning that productivity does not measure my worth, but Jesus does.

I am still grappling with the notion that illnesses can harm our body and mind, but by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of His testimony within us, it can never touch the soul (Matthew 10:28-31). 

The Ultimate Test

I do not know if this is God's Ultimate Test for me. 

In life, I know that being a Christian calls us to suffering and persecution. 

We are not immune to the hardships and tragedies that come with humanity. 

But I do know that while I sit here sick, stuffy, and congested, I am grateful. 

I am shifting my perspective.

I am declaring that God will heal my family and me. 

I am growing every day even when all I have done is rest, eat meals, and survive.

Today, I am still struggling to accept those things.

But someday I will be okay with them. And even when that day comes, I will still be grateful.

For the things He has brought me through.

For the things He will bring me through.

For the things I wish He would not take me through.

For the things I could never imagine happening.

For the things I could never imagine facing.

For the things I could never imagine surviving. 

And with Him, I am better, wiser, stronger for it. 

"So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power" (2 Corinthians 12:10, The Passion Translation). 

Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a young adult writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic worship arts, and volunteer roles. She is enrolled in the YWW Author Conservatory to become a full-time author and is a featured writer for Crosswalk, ibelieve, Salem Web Network, The Rebelution, Daughter of Delight, Kallos, Anchored Passion, No Small Life, and Darling Magazine. In the past, she's also contributed to Called Christian Writers, Southern Ohio Today News, Ohio Christian University, and The Circleville Herald. Visit her website at amberginter.com.