By Tina Hansen
As a Christ follower, faith has been something I’ve claimed to possess for years. After all, how can you be a Christian without having faith? Do I believe, God incarnate came to earth to suffer and die as the only suitable sacrifice to reconcile a sinful people to the Father? Near the end of 2018, after an arduous 7 year dark night of the soul journey, I sat alone taking stock of my heart and found something startling.
Peering into the depths of my being, I found a soul which was broken, battered and bruised. It was an empty, dry and desolate vessel. For the previous 7 years, I had devoted myself to providing care to someone in my family. This was through extended physical and mental illnesses, emotional struggles, all while in the midst of my own battle with multiple sclerosis. I was not allowing Papa God to replenish what I was giving away. In light of this reality, it’s no surprise I was experiencing a dark night of the soul.
Until that fateful day in 2018, I didn’t have the margin, or quite honestly the capability to look beyond my next step. I was surviving because my eyes were fixed my circumstances. Then, I suddenly recognized I had shifted my perspective from heavenly realities to earthly ones. I was mired down in the darkness of this world and stuck.
Taking the next step
For the first time in years I cried out to the Lord. Not the passing prayers for strength, comfort and rest I often whispered without thinking, but a beseeching wail of searching for hope. Though I would have told you I still believed in the God of the breakthrough, facing the condition of my heart and life, I began to absorb I didn’t know what I believed anymore. And that recognition shook me to my core.
Over the next few weeks, I began a tentative dialogue with the Lord. I was testing Him. Was He listening? Would He respond? Would it change anything? Then one day, the Lord invited me on a journey of restoration. Although I was anxious to have the condition of my heart altered, I didn’t readily accept His invitation. I was afraid. As I explored the basis of that fear, I realized if I were being completely honest, the fear was actually a lack of faith. The faith I had proclaimed was nothing more than cautious optimism. Because believing for something meant I had to risk my already fragile heart. What if disappointment happened instead of hope? What if the desires of my heart never materialized? How about my vulnerable heart?
In processing these questions I came to understand my greatest worry wasn’t about me at all, but about the One who held all my possibilities. It was at this moment the real issue came to light. I had lost my faith. In a misguided attempt to protect my heart, I had minimized the size of my God. If I didn’t expect Him to move on my behalf, I wouldn’t be destroyed if He chose not to move. With this painful revelation, it formed the foundation for my pursuit of the truth.
My quest began with discovering who God was and determine for myself His nature and characteristics. Who was He to me, for me and in me? I knew I would first have to understand and embrace the meaning of genuine faith. This truth can be found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” When I reread this Scripture in this translation, Holy Spirit highlighted two things. First, the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, which I had always presumed; it’s sight. When we can clearly see what lies ahead, faith isn’t necessary. Secondly, faith can’t be embraced without fully expecting the fulfillment of things for which we hope.
I wish I could tell you these realizations were sufficient to restore what was lost. These truths allowed me to take my first, guarded steps toward wholeness. As I walked deeper into my grand adventure with the Lord, He slowly revealed Himself to me in big and small ways. With every new discovery, my faith grew more firm and sure. I came to comprehend that apart from Faith, I couldn’t embrace the life He desired to give me. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.”
Though I could tell you the specifics behind all He showed me, most of my journey was distinct to things Papa God needed to work out in me. However, I believe with all my heart what He did for me, He will do for you if you’ll allow Him.
My pilgrimage with the Lord has brought full restoration to my once shattered heart. As my inner healing happened, Papa went beyond my wildest expectations, and brought complete physical healing from my 20 year battle with multiple sclerosis and a host of other conditions. I stand today healed, whole and delivered. While the inner and physical restoration is such a gift, the greatest gift I received was discovering the gift giver.
What do you need to believe for today? Do you have faith with a capital ‘F’, or are you too protecting your heart because of fear? Fear of what might not manifest in the ways you desire? Friends, let me encourage you to honestly examine your heart, and reach out asking your Papa God to redeem and restore any broken pieces. And ask with expectation He will respond, because He “is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us.”