How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
(Psalm 116:5-6 NLT)
*My body contorted in a twisted fetal position to escape the pain pulsing down my arm. Tears slid gently down my cheeks in silent agony as the words refused to come. I did not have the strength to pray on my knees; that was the position of a warrior. I had only the strength to crumple into the position of a baby. Sobs began to wrack my body. Relentless questions and doubts bombarded my mind, and my receding faith could not muster the strength to fight them.
No logic, wisdom, or truth seemed able to snatch me from the pit of despair that encompassed me on all sides. I sank deeper and deeper. There was no light, no hope, and no answer.
And then, amidst the suffocating anguish, a lone light, barely visible, shone through the darkness. Something from the recesses of my mind fought its way to consciousness: If you have the faith of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you. The beacon of hope abated the tears long enough for me to begin to catch my breath.
A PRAYER OF DESPAIR • NEEDING CHILDLIKE FAITH
Words caught in my throat as I uttered a desperately simple prayer. A prayer that I believe changed my destiny: “God, I have fought for years and years and years, and I can’t fight anymore. I never thought this world could break me, but it has. And I’m finished. I know I said that your grace was sufficient for me, and I know that I said your strength was made perfect in my weakness, but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live this way. Please don’t make me live this way. I have been hanging on by a kernel of a mustard seed of faith for years, and I don’t have it anymore. I have lost my life because I did what you told me to do. Where are you? Please don’t let me live this way.”
I paused as one final surge of conviction overtook my mind. And I looked up to heaven, tears gathering and threatening to spill over in another torrent. I clenched my jaw with determination, and then I stressed each syllable as I made an audacious demand from an Almighty God: “Heal me or take me home, but don’t make me live this way.”
DON’T LOSE YOUR CHILDLIKE FAITH
By the time I was nineteen years old, I had endured seven years of misdiagnoses, pain, and confusion. I had already confronted more in the medical world than some do in a lifetime, and I had fought through anger, bitterness, doubt, and fear. And I had seen the hope of attaining the height of a sport: I had been the fastest swimmer in the country my age for three years. But I had also finally reached the depths of the deepest, darkest, pit of the human experience: to despair of life itself.
But now, six years after surgeons found my biceps degenerating inside me, I find that my journey isn’t over. I’m relearning lessons I thought I mastered years ago, and God is teaching me new lessons as I navigate a different life than I ever imagined I would have.
As I randomly injure my neck so badly I am unable to move or lift my head for a week, God reminds me that His presence is enough. As I grapple with the reality of my daily nerve damage and how to alleviate its effects, I relearn surrender. And as I try to help others along their similar journeys of more questions than answers, I am reminded not to lose the childlike faith that wrote the story of hope I have lived.
CHILDLIKE FAITH • A TINY LIGHT OF HOPE
Hope is a tiny light, yet all the darkness in the world cannot overcome its rays. The hope of a child is simple and small enough to be made with a sentence of trust, yet life changing and powerful enough to shake the hinges of the gates of hell.
The more pain we endure, the less likely we are to receive the kingdom of God as a child. The more doctors we see, the less likely we are to care about a medical glove balloon, fun hospital socks, or a sticker for our visit. And the more confusion we traverse, the less likely we are to believe in God, much less see our pain as the gift it truly is.
But if we can learn to view our pain through the lens of a child, we can trust that God is who He says He is, that nothing given to Him will ever be wasted, and that through our surrender we are storing up treasure that no moth, no disease, and no enemy will be able to steal from our grasp. We can receive a box of darkness as a gift, like poet Mary Oliver once wrote:
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
REGAINING CHILDLIKE FAITH
Perhaps we can all hold our boxes of darkness today and see more clearly the light of God that is more visible in their depths. May you walk forth as a child, accepting the goodness of God with simple faith amidst the mystery of your circumstances. May you take hold of the hope you let go amidst what you thought was the reality of suffering. And may you regain the trust of the child you buried in your soul long ago.
*Excerpt taken from Swimming for Freedom. Published with permission of BroadStreet Publishing, LLC.
Tera Bradham DeNeui
Author, Speaker, Podcast Host
Tera is an inspirational speaker, podcast host of Vying for Victory, and author of Swimming for Freedom: A True Story of Faith, Hope, and Victory – The Inspirational Story of Tera Bradham’s Unconventional Comeback. Her journey has led her across the world to deliver messages of empowerment and purpose. She writes from her home in Montana. Learn more about Heal Retreat.
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