5 Things That Help When We’re Faced With a Crisis of Faith
I felt like I had been flattened by a two-ton truck. Actually, I wished I had been.
That would be something understandable, and everyone would know why I couldn’t move my leaden body out of bed to care for my small children.
More important, I wouldn’t be left wondering if God had abandoned me in a pit of despair.
Eventually I would be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Eventually I would learn to manage my illness and return to a productive life. But in 1999, I looked up from the rock bottom of that pit and pondered all my scary “what ifs.” What if I never get better? What if I can’t care for my children and husband? What if God won’t rescue us? And then the biggest “what if” of all: What if there really isn’t a God?
In the deepest part of me I heard the answer, “I AM,” and a peace settled around me like a warm blanket. I gathered that blanket around me in the months to come, through each painful sleepless night, each doctor’s appointment, each frustrating set-back in my slow recovery.
I spread that blanket over myself in prayer, and made a discipline of clinging to it daily in meditation, in conversation and in life choices.
5 things that really help
How do we lean into the gift of our faith when we or a family member is faced with chronic, debilitating or life-threatening illness? How do we find that blanket of peace when the storm surrounds us? From my experience I learned 5 things that really help:
Put on a coat.
If you are stuck at the North Pole in freezing cold, it’s not enough to “think warm thoughts.” Tackle urgent needs first, focusing your energies there. When the “what ifs” and “whys” surface, steer your thoughts back to your plan for today until the current crisis is addressed.
Find good companions.
These will be people who acknowledge your situation instead of minimizing it, who are hopeful, and who are proactive. They will help you put on a coat (see #1), and give you a map for getting to warmer climates.
Feel the Sonshine.
Your grandmother may have expressed this as “counting your blessings.” It really works! The more you focus on the good things God is providing, the more good you experience.
Ask God hard questions, and listen to the answers.
Set aside time each day to really listen to God. If you find it hard to sit still, try journaling, or kinesthetic prayer forms like the rosary or a labyrinth. Turn off the noise in your life so that you tune into the voice of God.
Seek spiritual guidance.
Meet with your pastor, lay minister or a spiritual director. If you aren’t acquainted with one, ask people you trust for recommendations, or search at Spiritual Directors International.org
And overall…trust. God always provides our deepest needs when we open ourselves to His Grace.