when God speaks or doesnt

~

I remember when I used to pray.

My hands would shake, my jaw would tremble, and I felt the Spirit guide me. I saw hearts healed. Spirits comforted. Bodies made whole.  The only thing that felt bigger than my faith was my God. It was the days of God being glorified and knowing that things would work out for our good. It was bold requests. Swift answers. God speaking.

And then it was silent.

There was the miracle baby that they said wouldn’t survive childbirth and kept on living and thriving. And there were nights praying at the hospital. Days spent praying on my face in the nursery and pacing in my home. And the prayers were being answered…..until they weren’t. I heard the phone ring early in the morning and I knew what was on the other end.

Then there was the teen that had been battling cancer.

Then my friend. One who had spent time at my table praying with me. One who left behind two beautiful children.

Then the other friend. The one who sacrificed his time serving God, serving the church.

 God felt so quiet.  In some ways, He still does.

There’s that part of me that wants to figure it all out. That wants to know why not them? Some will say there was a lack of faith. But I know it wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t theirs. Maybe it’s just that messy part of Kingdom living. That space between the now and the not yet. But even that hurts my heart to think about. I long for the day when there will be no more sickness, no more death.  All things will be made new and nothing will distract us from God’s glory shining bright around us.

I don’t want to diminish what God is doing, so for now I hold onto what my mind knows, even though my heart is broken.

I whisper in the quiet of the night, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24, NLT).

*****

 My five year old doesn’t have the baggage that 30 years in the Church can bring. She has no memories of unanswered prayers. She doesn’t wrestle with theological questions (although she is really trying to wrap her head around the Trinity). She just loves her Jesus so much that she can’t help but tell people about Him. And when someone in dance class is crying, she’ll walk over and ask to pray for them. And she thanks her Jesus for healing them and He meets them there and heals. And He is glorified.  I am astounded and grateful and overwhelmed.

*****

I’ve just about given up on myself.  When I see sick babies or couples struggling with infertility I want to pray for them, but I figure there is someone more effective. The fear that God won’t meet me. The fear I won’t hear Him speak.  The fear that it will hurt their faith because mine is shaky – it is so much more than I can bear.

But God….but God isn’t letting me go.

I was driving in a parking lot, on the way to the store and I felt my foot press the brake pedal as I looked to my left. And there was someone in the parking lot that had fallen, their shopping cart tangled around their legs on a cold, dark winter morning. There was a crowd of a few gathered, one on their phone presumably calling an ambulance as moments later I could hear their siren getting closer and closer. I moved my van out of the way and signaled to the store employee that there was a problem and then parked a few stores down.

I tried to get out of the car but I couldn’t.  Even as I gripped the steering wheel, my hands began to shake. And tears ran down my cheeks. And my jaw began to tremble. And I had to pray.

I could hear something in the back of my mind. So quiet, that I almost didn’t catch it, but I strained to hear. And it was like hearing an old friend on the phone that you haven’t talked to in forever but you know that voice so well. Softly, I heard whispered, “Don’t be afraid. I’m still speaking to you.”

 I believe; help me in my unbelief.

*****

Headshot3Brenna is a city-living, tender-hearted wife and mama to three little girls who encourage her daily to seek out the beauty in life. She loves Diet Coke, homemade bread, and Indian food. There is always something cooking in her oven. You will most likely find her either shuffling her girls off to an activity or cuddling with her family at home. She blogs about brokenness and redemption at Beautiful Things  (http://chicagomama-brenna.blogspot.com) and you can find her on Twitter at @ChicagoMama

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  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    This touched my heart so much. I’ve been in this place – I’m in it now. And it is hard. And it sucks. And it feels so dark. But there is hope in your words, that small whisper you heard. Thank you for sharing it. I needed that hope today.

    • BrennaDA

      Tracie, I am so very glad that this resonated with you in some way. It is a hard place, and I find it comforting to know that I’m not alone here. And as hard as it is to remember some days, He hasn’t left us or abandoned us, and our prayers, even when they go unanswered for a season, are still heard. And His love for us isn’t measured in how those prayers are answered. Hard truths to remember, I know. Thank you for reading and commenting. Blessings to you!

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    “Don’t be afraid. I’m still speaking to you.” So beautiful. Thanks for sharing this Brenna.

    • BrennaDA

      Thanks, Addie. And thank you for sharing your thoughts and struggles with prayers. It’s helped me sort through my own issues and think it all out.

  • http://gracebiskie.com/ Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    Brenna, thanks so much for sharing this…beautifully written. I can sense your heartbreak and your faith equally, and they are both precious. It sounds so trite to say ‘hang in there!’ but that is exactly what I mean…sometimes the pushing through it is the lesson itself, which can really sort of suck. I absolutely love how you ended this with “help my unbelief.” may we all have such humility.

    • BrennaDA

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am waiting for one of those breakthrough type moments where I can say, “ok, made it through the other side.” Hopefully it will come soon! Thank you for giving me a safe place to share some of the hard things.

      • http://gracebiskie.com/ Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

        your welcome! Just let me know if you ever have anything else you’d like to share here!

  • http://www.tammygrrrl.com/ Tammy Perlmutter

    Brenna, thanks for the reminder, I can feel and think the same way. You are blessed to have a little girl who believes for you!!

    • BrennaDA

      I am. She’s a good reminder to “keep the faith.” If God can answer her prayers, he can answer mine.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ Danielle | from two to one

    This is so, so you, and so, so beautiful, Brenna!

    • BrennaDA

      Thank you so much friend!

  • Nancy

    Brenna, Brenna, Brenna. Your words are always so beautiful and so full of your heart. I hung on to each one as I read. Yes, “help me in my unbelief.” I to, want to come out the other side. The darkness has been so thick. But I am still here alive :-)

    • BrennaDA

      Nancy. I believe so much that this season….this long season of yours….that it will be redeemed. That you will be able to look back on it and see His hand guiding you, even in these times where it all seems cold and silent. I see the other side for you. And I’ll stick with you!

  • Michelle

    Brenna

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I feel you! Oh do I feel you! Recently I have been asking myself when did I stop believing in the power of prayer? I love this line, “Don’t be afraid. I’m still speaking to you.” That is so comforting

    • BrennaDA

      Michelle, thank you for taking the time to read this today. When there is a season where our prayers aren’t answered, it is so hard to see past….I’ve had to tell God that I know intellectually He answers prayers, but I want to know in my heart again. And He’s starting to whisper…I think I’ve forgotten to listen. Blessings to you. I pray you are able to start feeling and knowing and that you hear His whispers, too.

  • http://twitter.com/bodytheology Laura Cavanaugh

    “Maybe it’s just that messy part of Kingdom living. That space between the now and the not yet.” Loved this post. Thanks so much for being real about the space you’re in. We need more people like you! – Laura

    • BrennaDA

      Thank you, Laura! I think there is power in being able to honestly share where you are at with God, and know that He is still working, still moving, still powerful. We tend to be quiet with those thoughts and feelings, as if it will make them disappear. But I think it is only until we bring them out into the light, that we allow God to move.

  • Steve Martin

    Wonderful post.

    “I believe; help me in my unbelief.”

    Me too, please.

    the old adam

    • BrennaDA

      Thank you.

  • Marla Abe

    I can so identify. My first years of faith and some years of renewal had that quality..God was so close and everything was possible through prayer. Now some days, I feel that spark of the Holy Spirit praying through me and I know that that prayer will be answered. There is authority then, and a sense of assurance. There are days when I just pray, hoping, but not sure if anything will happen.

    But I will tell you, as I mature,(42 years of faith) it is true that slowly the Spirit tells you how to pray, what the direction will be, for miracle or acceptance. For endurance or rejoicing.
    According to Your will, and meaning it…that is the tough part.

    • BrennaDA

      Thank you for the encouragement. So grateful!