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When Faith Looks Ugly

After writing my last post, some great dialogue came about from many you.  Our storms may come in different forms, but we have discovered that we are not alone in enduring them.  Please enjoy my first guest post written by someone who is very dear to me.  I thought this was a great follow-up from the last post I wrote, “When You’re not Okay.”  May her words, honesty, and vulnerability encourage you.  

When I was a little girl there were so many things that were unknown. I did not have assurance that there would be an adult to protect or provide for me. I didn’t know if there would be a meal at the dinner table at night or if I would encounter abuse.  In the midst of the uncertainty, I clung to faith that God knew my hurting heart and would not leave me alone.  With that faith I found strength to face fears, deal with the insecurity, and courage to fight the battle!

Faith. What does that word mean to you?  Hebrew 11:1 says faith is, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Now that I am an adult, I still embrace my faith. What I am learning is that faith is not necessarily a beautiful package wrapped in a gorgeous bright bow. Sometimes it can be ugly.  I know, that is not the “Jesus” answer we hear in church.  And yet, I’ve been wrestling with understanding what faith looks like in my everyday life. We talk about our faith as if we are sitting beside a calm brook with rippling water and birds chirping above us calming our hearts. In reality, my life at the moment is like a gigantic tornado that is ripping everything from the foundation.  It is tossing my identity, God’s promises, my expectations, and my sense of normalcy into what seems like total destruction that is leaving everything stripped bare.

My faith does not look very “attractive” when my heart is being ripped out of my chest, my knees are bruised from heart-wrenching prayer to God, and tears are falling by the bucket load. The ugly picture of my faith right now is swollen eyes, a snotty red nose and a fight with depression.

The promises of God do not fit neatly, like a zig saw puzzle, into my circumstances. I am left feeling exhausted, doubting, and anxious. We don’t talk about this part of our faith much, do we? Nevertheless, I tend to think I am not alone.

I want to assure you, as I am discovering, there is BEAUTY in the ugliness of faith. Some days are easier than others for me to recognize beauty in the midst of what I deem ugly.  The destruction overshadows any hint of life. Beauty is found when I want to withdrawal and hide from the brutality of my reality but, instead, God is the “lifter of my head” (Ps. 3:3). I rise up with hands lifted high, tears streaming down my cheeks, proclaiming:

  1. God IS good. HIS faith endures forever. Ps 100:5

  2. The Lord will guide me always. Isa. 58:11

  3. God IS unchanging. Malachi 3:6

  4. When I pass through the waters, HE will be with me; when I walk through the fire, I will NOT be burned. Isa. 43:2

  5. When anxiety is great within me, YOUR consolation brings joy to my soul. Ps. 94:19

  6. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news…He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a CROWN OF BEAUTY. Isa. 61

From one who is in the trenches of a storm, I encourage you to join me in embracing the ugliness of our faith walk because beauty shines when God is high and lifted up. The beauty is others coming along side to pick up broken and shattered pieces of my life.  That requires vulnerability and trust; which is difficult and scary.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds and am uncertain as to when this storm will cease from raging around me.  No matter what I feel, one thing I do know is that when everything around me is uncertain, God is my constant.

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