Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night, slightly panicked.
I couldn’t remember if I had been dreaming, and there wasn’t any thunder rolling outside. I checked my cell phone. No texts or missed calls. Yet a sense of dread hung heavy over me.
I fluffed the pillow, and as I turned over on my side, pulling the covers up tight around my neck, I knew what I was worried about.
There are too many good things happening in my life right now.
I don’t know what it says about me, or my faith, or my sanity, really, but while some people go through crises of faith in bad times, I find myself facing down the specter of doubt when my health is good and my relationships are encouraging and my career has taken a strong turn toward my giftedness.
My faith in God during difficult times is rocky but real. When blessings come, though, I find that I hide my dismay behind expressions of gratitude. In reality, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
With great certainty, I can trace this lack of faith right back to my cancer diagnosis. So many good things seemed to be cut away from my life along with the tumors, things I was desperate for, like the man I was dating and the hope of having children and the security of a long life before me.
In those days when it felt like God took so much away from me, I began to relate to God differently. I knew he was there; I even knew that he loved me. But I completely disconnected any good things in my life with my relationship with Him. Because if God gave good gifts to his children, what did that make me laying half dead in the hospital receiving chemotherapy every few weeks.
I needed to know God was for me in suffering, but somehow I forgot that God is for me in blessings, too. It’s still hard for me to remember.
Sunday, my pastor preached from Psalm 22, the “Why have you forsaken me?” Psalm. He unraveled the text to show us that pain and belief can coexist, that the “yet” of the Psalmist was an affirmation that even though he didn’t feel like God was holy and interested and trustworthy and sovereign, He always is, even when we suffer.
My heart resonated with the hope of this message, not because I am currently suffering, but because I realized if pain and belief can coexist, then so can blessing and belief. In fact, what is true about God and his character is always true, regardless of what I am experiencing
There are gods out there, religions and paradigms, things like karma and destiny, that might prescribe the kind of fear I am struggling with. But they are not my God. My God is not vengeful or spiteful; he doesn’t try to balance my good deeds with bad. He is not out to get me; He is not fighting me like an adversary.
My God is my protector and friend, my strong tower and helper. He is my Savior and my life, and He is for me. In bad times, and in good times.
And when the good times end, and when the bad times end, and all I have left is Him . . . I will still have everything I need.