What? You mean, God isn’t like Santa?

In my entire “Christian walk” I have only experienced two crises of faith. Like any other believer, I’ve had my set backs and disappointments, sure; but I’m talking about serious doubts about God’s power, or His existence at all.

The first was when my good friend Farida died about 7 years ago. She had a stroke during surgery and was put on a ventilator. Many friends gathered in her room, praying with vigor and proclaiming healing scripture over her life. We were all confident that she would pull through. She never did. She was 27. When her mother, a devout Christian, came down from Ghana to view her body at the funeral home, she said “Heh! Nana Ama! What are you doing here? Get up!” She was calling for her daughter to rise from the dead, just as the scripture promised us we could if we believed in Christ’s power. Farida didn’t stir, and Auntie fell silent. “God,” she mulled, “I thought my prayers were powerful.” Everyone in the room assured her that they were… her prayers were indeed powerful. I wasn’t so sure. I’m crying even now as I recall the events.

By the time we put Farida in the ground, I was convinced that God did not raise people from the dead. I knew He could, but my faith in miracles as far healing was concerned was shattered.

My second crisis came this week with a court verdict that didn’t go my way. I have spent the last 2 weeks fasting and praying for a particular outcome, using 2 Chronicles 20 as my faith scripture. I walked into the court chambers, full of faith and confidence that they would see things my way. In the end, the plaintiff got what they asked for, and though the verdict wasn’t a total loss to me, it was not what I was believing for. I spent all of last night and the early parts of this morning questioning what the entire exercise of fasting and prayer had been for. Had I not done all the right things? Had I not followed all the rules? Why then had things not gone as I prayed for?? (For my friends in the know, you know why this court case was so critical for me and my family).

After much reflection and consulting my good friend and husband, Mr. Grant, I came to the realization that God does not work like Santa Claus. I can’t speak for any other Christian, but I often confuse His methods with those of Old St. Nick. In God’s rule book, you don’t get to be good all year, make a list, and then get whatever you want. His favor is on you by grace, and grace alone…not merited by your work. I also had to rediscover something I heard Charles Ingles say on Little House on the Prairie: God always answers prayer, but sometimes that answer is “no”.

In the wee hours of the morning, I moved from a crisis of faith to a conflict of faith. I was still grappling with my doubts of God’s power, but at the same time, I have nothing else I can rely on. Men lie and are imperfect. I would be a fool to put my trust in any human being or the institutions of men. Could it be, just maybe, that God has something bigger in store for me and I just have to exercise patience to obtain it? After all, didn’t the devil think he’d won when Jesus died on the cross, and did he not rise 3 days later? And even though Jesus told the disciples he’d be back, did not many of them doubt his triumph in the face of what looked like total defeat? Perhaps there is victory for me on the other side of this skirmish that I just have to be patient and wait to see.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Like I said, every person of faith, who TRULY believes in God and is not just going through the motions and the form of faith, will (or should) have a crisis or doubt at some point. Mother Theresa did, so somehow, I know I’m in good company.

Embrace your storms. It’s the only way to see how strong of a sailor you are in this sea called Life.