Constant numbness took over the left side of my face. Intense shooting pain traveled up the back of my neck and head. Overwhelming worry and fear trapped me. Was it a brain tumor? I shot up prayers for health, healing, and understanding, but God seemed strangely silent.
I made an appointment to see my doctor, but in the meantime, I desperately wanted an instant fix. I wanted the numbness to go away and life to return to normal.
Friends and family who tried to offer support or comfort seemed only to make things worse with such comments as, "Everything will be fine. God is in control!" and by tossing random Scripture verses at me. I knew they meant well, but their words hurt. What if everything didn't turn out fine?
Even after the results of an MRI confirmed the absence of a brain tumor, I continued to feel anxious. The illness was still a mystery and God was still silent. I felt as if God had abandoned me.
I was desperate for a diagnosis, but my doctor had exhausted all her resources without reaching any conclusions. I cried out to God, "Help me! Which direction do I take for answers?"
As I pleaded with God, a memory came to mind: the painful struggle I went through after my second pregnancy ended in a stillborn birth. God had seemed absent then too. Each day during that difficult time I would plead for God to help me, and yet I remained in profound anguish.
Over time, I became aware that I had a choice to make each day. I could either stay with God or I could walk away. I'd already lost so much—I didn't want to lose God too, even if he remained silent. So I determined to stay with God. It didn't matter how my emotions changed or how I felt each day; I stayed committed to him.
Revisiting this terrible time in my mind brought the truth back into focus. God had delivered me out of bitter grief. He would deliver me again. God had already proven himself to be faithful. And so once more, I made my choice to hang on to him—even if I felt alone.
Even Through Clenched Teeth
All of us can face anxiety when negative circumstances occur, such as an unexpected job loss, impending foreclosure, abnormal behavior of a spouse or child, or like me, a sudden health crisis that hits us out of nowhere. In those times, it's dangerously easy to become consumed with dark thoughts. Often we visualize ourselves in worst-case scenarios in which God's presence and power seem to be absent. We make the scene larger and the situation more demanding than God could possibly handle. We see ourselves alone in an unwanted place. And those mental images that consume us end up stealing our joy and leading us away from the one who is our hope, our comfort, our Savior.
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For Further StudyDownloadable resources to go deeper
- Carolyn Custis James: What It Means to Be a Woman in MinistryeBook Format Available! Author and speaker Carolyn Custis James offers leadership insights for women.