Faith is something I used to see as a strength of mine, but my faith has been tested to an extreme these past 4 years, and it is something I have had to work on. When trials come, I think it’s natural to question your relationship with God. Trials can bring you closer to Him, and they can also take you away from Him. In my case, I have had both happen. My faith has been like a roller coaster. At first, I leaned on Him like never before, and I found comfort in the scriptures and in my closeness to Him. I felt inspired daily, and I knew He was by my side. My testimony was stronger than ever. As time has gone on since August’s birth and half of my family being diagnosed with vEDS, I have had some anger and doubt creep in, and I have found my relationship with God becoming weaker.
If God loved me, why did He let these things happen to me? Does He truly love me? Does He really care? Why didn’t He warn me about August’s birth? I did everything right. I have been faithful. Why hasn’t He protected me? Why has He given me so much to deal with? How could this possibly be what is best for my family? Can SOMETHING work out the way I want it to? Anything? So many questions that aren’t very helpful. They have only made me angry and distanced me from the Lord. I built a whole case against Him. I felt forsaken and abandoned.
I am generally an optimist, and I can be good at finding reasons to be grateful and seeing the good in situations. But with so much hardship, I felt beaten down, and I stopped trying to see the good. I was too tired. Instead I found reasons to be mad at God. And there are a lot of them because a lot of hard things have happened.
My distance from God was concerning to me, and I started to pray to better understand so I could stop being angry.
Faith is a Choice
My answer is that faith is a choice. I have had many reminders the past while that have softened my heart and helped me see that God is there for me, but I need to choose to see it. Choosing to believe that Heavenly Father is there for me and will help me is the first step to seeing that it is true. I can choose to murmur and complain about my circumstances or I can choose to have faith and find reasons to be grateful. This choice won’t change my circumstances, but it WILL change how I see them. It won’t change that I still have questions, but it will give me comfort that I am not alone in it.
Awhile ago, when my anger with God was at its highest point, my beautiful friend, Daeyna posted a testimony on Facebook. She is a great example of faith and trust in the Lord. In her testimony she wrote,”Lord trusting You has never been a bad thing so I continue to trust”. That really hit home for my logical mind. I started to think about this and decided that it has never been a bad thing for me to trust Him either. It has only been good and brought me joy and comfort. Faith is a choice. If I want God in my life, I have to choose Him. I can’t complain against Him and be mad at Him and expect to see His hand in my life. If I am focused on the negative, I won’t see the positive. He will still be in my life, but I won’t see it.
I Have Felt His Love
As I have allowed my heart to be softened, I have felt His love in a powerful way. I don’t understand all the whys of this life, but I do know that He loves me, and I do know that He will help me. If I invite Him in, my burden will be lighter and more manageable. I can accomplish a lot by myself, but I can accomplish ALL THINGS with Him. There is no comparison. There is also no comparison in how I feel when I am keeping Him distant in my life versus when I am inviting Him in.
I am choosing to keep Him by my side because I need Him. I think maybe that is part of why we are given trials that we can’t bear alone. When we have trials that are bigger than us, we have to humble ourselves and invite Him into our lives. We can’t do it all by ourselves. I can’t do it all by myself, even though sometimes I want to think I can.
An Example of Praising the Lord in Hardship
Nephi is a great example of faith and gratitude and finding the blessings in difficult situations. I look to his example to know how to handle hard things. Nephi praises God continually even in great affliction. His family wandered in the wilderness for 8 years. EIGHT years!!! Seriously, how many of us wouldn’t have joined the ranks of Laman and Lemuel and murmured and complained at least for a time?? I sometimes question if Nephi was truly human because it doesn’t seem like he ever complained or got angry with the Lord.
After the whole wilderness adventure, the family was on a ship. Laman and Lemuel tied Nephi up, and then there was a terrible storm that lasted 3 days. They finally loosed Nephi’s bands, and he said, “Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:16)
What an incredible example. The story of Nephi and his brothers is a great example of how faith is a choice. Nephi and his brothers go through the same exact things, but they have totally different perspectives. Laman and Lemuel say they wish they had died in Jerusalem because then they wouldn’t have to go through so much hardship. Nephi praises God, even in all the hardship he endures. His life is much more joyful and beautiful. He chooses faith and gratitude.
I choose to be more like Nephi. I choose faith. Choosing to have gratitude and focusing on the joy of life, even in hardship is much more rewarding than being angry about the things that don’t go our way. Faith is a choice. If you are struggling with your faith and relationship with God, take that first step of making the choice. Choose to find the ways you are blessed. Choose to see His hand in your life. Because it’s there. Sometimes it just takes some faith to see it.