Sunday, March 31, 2013

Anemic Faith: A Reflection for Easter

Not everyone who waits to have a baby is eventually blessed with one, and not everyone who waits for a better job eventually gets one!”

This is what I sobbed on the phone to my mom yesterday morning. She was trying to console me, poor woman, over a recent disappointment that Mark has suffered in his search for a job in Minnesota.

The fact that we’re not guaranteed any happy endings, the fact that the proportion of prayers we pray in supplication does not correlate exactly with the number of favorable answers we receive from God, really bothers me sometimes. It’s haunted me, really, since we eased into our struggle with infertility, and it’s bothered me as Mark continues to deal with the problem he’s dealt with since we graduated from college: not knowing what he wants to do and somehow ending up in jobs in which he doesn’t feel fulfilled.

This is the crux of the matter for me, my ‘crisis of faith,’ if you will, that has arrived unwelcomed at my doorstep over the last few years. Can I trust in God’s unfailing goodness to me despite circumstances? Can I take into account the largest perspective possible: that of my problems in light of eternity?

I don’t know. And it’s funny that I should be thinking about this on Easter, the day when we celebrate God’s ultimate goodness and selfless love in sending His son to die for us. I know this is true. I know God loves me more than I can understand. That’s just the problem, though: I can’t understand it.

In addition, I can’t reconcile my sense of personal suffering and my questions about God’s goodness with suffering worldwide. When I think about my suffering, the face of the Mozambican pastor Vicente comes to mind. His teeth are rotting out for lack of dental care. He preaches every Sunday in a stifling rectangular building made of mud. He’s lost at least half of his children to malaria. And what must he think when missionaries come in and out of his life with healthy children? They arrive in Mozambique with healthy children, they fly to South Africa to have their babies, and then their babies grow up into healthy children and adults as a matter of course. He has experienced real suffering, and if he were to compare his life to the lives of the missionaries, he would have real reason to question God’s goodness.

My struggle with PCOS, my infertility, my desire for a fulfilling job for Mark – these are all problems for a rich girl living in a rich country. I’m so used to having my way paved straight and smooth that my faith is rocked by these minor turbulences, while a poor pastor who has buried at least four children continues to travel to his stuffy mud church every Sunday and preach God’s goodness and faithfulness.

This comparison of me and Pastor Vicente makes me think of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:23-25: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ ”

Who then? Really? My faith is shivering inside of me under these minor blows. It’s so weak. And God doesn’t offer easy answers. But thank God, thank God, that Jesus didn’t stop his thought there. He added on the ‘but’ that makes all the difference for my weak and faltering American heart: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ”

My faith is not rock solid. We may never have a baby. Mark may never get a job where he can use his gifts. These worries terrify me if I dwell on them. But in those darkest moments of doubt, I know that God’s goodness will win out. I won’t always feel like I believe him but, even so, I can be saved from my quaking anemic faith—

With God, all things are possible.


  1. Oh boy, do I understand. Lots of days, all I can say is: Lord, I believe - help my unbelief.

  2. This post resonated with me I try to reconcile some completely different "sufferings" that will likely never make it in blog-land.
    I'm trying to memorize Psalm 103, and only have made it through the first five "who's"...
    But the one that really convicts me is "forget none of His benefits." How often I forget His benefits...
    Not that this really applies to this post---sorry. Got on a little tangent there.... :)
    We love you. We love you. We love you.
    But more importantly, He does.

    "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able..."

  3. Oh Hillary- I think our hearts/minds beat/think as one sometimes... I, too have struggled with God over yours & Mark's heartaches with PCOS and jobs... no words for you here & now... just blindly clinging to the Word... trying to walk by faith, and not by sight. We love you so much... mom