The Strength of My Faith

When I faced surgery two years ago, I also faced a major battle with anxiety. First, with any medical procedure, they have to tell you everything that could possibly go wrong. Even though the things they describe aren’t likely to happen, there is some possibility they could happen. Some people probably are able to dwell in the “not likely” aspect of it, but some of us have trouble getting out of the “Yeah, but what if….” side of things. On top of that, though I am not diabetic or hypoglycemic, I do have low blood sugar issues sometimes. I usually can’t go past 9 or 10 a.m. without getting dizzy, shaky, and lightheaded, and the surgery wasn’t scheduled until 1 p.m., with nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before. On top of that, I have irritable bowel syndrome, which can get into a vicious cycle with anxiety. It’s one more thing to get anxious about, and anxiety about it increases the likelihood of it being a problem, which increases the anxiety, and so on. I asked just about everyone I knew to pray about it, and God marvelously answered. The anxiety came to a peak two days before the surgery, but the morning of, God truly gave me “peace that passes understanding.”

Some of you who have read here for a while may remember that that procedure was not able to be completed. They thought I had one type of rhythm problem with my heart, but once they tried to treat it, they discovered I didn’t have that after all. I had a different kind, which was a totally different (and riskier, I was told at the time) procedure.

So two years later, which was this last August, that procedure was scheduled. The battle with anxiety was not as intense, I think due both to the fact that I had learned some things about dealing with it, and God had gotten me through all this before. But it was still a factor.

I had the notion that in order to keep the anxiety at bay, to avoid all these possible problems, and, most of all, to have a victorious experience spiritually, I had to maintain a certain level of faith. I saw anxiety as a failure of faith, and if I did experience any problems with blood sugar, IBS, etc., it would mean I had failed.

One can get rather weary feeling the weight of all that. A few days before the surgery, while once again several of these issues were going through my mind, a line from an old hymn by Ada Ruth Habershon revived in recent years came to mind:

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast.

It’s not the strength, size, intensity, or maintenance of my faith that makes the difference. It’s the One I have faith in.

This is not a new truth to me. I was brought to this focus way back when I was first saved, and it’s something I have to be reminded of from time to time.

The fact that God knew the depths of my heart and my struggles and ministered to me so personally and tenderly touched my heart so deeply, and this became one of the most special moments of my life. This is the first time I’ve mentioned it to anyone else.

I share it not only to glorify God, but to encourage you. A former pastor’s wife, an older lady who had walked with the Lord for decades, used to often say, when she was speaking or counseling, “Look away to Jesus.” Whatever you’re going through, look away to Him.

There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Isaiah 45:21b-24b, KJV

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37, ESV.

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40, ESV

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness,  the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:7-8, ESV

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:1-3, ESV

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him  and saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:4-6, ESV

And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:8. ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:1-3, ESV

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Tell His Story), Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire)

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15 thoughts on “The Strength of My Faith

  1. I feel as though I have met my kindred spirit. You and I share so much in common. I too am a Pastor’s wife who has suffered with anxiety her whole life. In fact, I am in a season extreme anxiety due to various health issues, one of which a newly discovered IBS! And I totally agree that it is such a vicious cycle when anxiety exacerbates IBS and then you are worried about the IBS.

    I too have felt like a failure when my faith has failed. Thank you so much for this incredible encouragement and all the Scripture verses to back that encouragement up.

    The Lord continues to minister to me in this season of anxiety through sisters in the Lord like yourself.

    Thank you so much for sharing so transparently!

  2. A blessing to read this day. I, too, have faced serious surgeries and know the angst that comes with that list of what could go wrong. Yet God has brought me through each one and will next month on another. I love the photo with the words…it truly is the One we place faith in and not all that surrounds me. Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  3. I, too, struggle with anxiety, particularly over medical things. Honestly, sometimes thinking of the increased amount of those that I’ll face as I get older is enough to make me jittery! I also have felt guilty at times for feeling this way, like it’s a failure of faith, as you said. So I loved your thought about it not being about how well our faith is “performing,” but about the one we’re putting our faith in. I need to remember that — and be reminded frequently. Thank you!

  4. This thursday I am having knee replacement and from all everyone has told me it’s a tough recovery. So if I dread anything it’s the recovery. I have had to put it off because I had to have bypass surgery on my heart…then a family member died, another change so really praying nothing happens before the 9th.

  5. I have struggled with anxiety, and so I relate so much to this post. Thank you for your words of wisdom, and for reminding me of the strength I have being connected to Christ!

  6. I love this. I’ve thought about this before too – how people always say “My faith got me through the hard times.” I understand what they mean and I say it myself. But I realized awhile ago that it’s not the best way to say what we mean. I was watching a news story about some tragedy, and the newscaster asked the person if it’s their faith that saved them. And the Christian said yes. But then I thought about how variable “faith” is nowadays, how we all faith in different things and how most people think that faith in one thing is as good as faith in another. So I think better than saying “My faith got me through” would be saying “My God got me through.” It’s not our “faith” that saves us, as though the strength of our faith makes the difference and holds us up. (If that were so, we’d be sunk whenever our faith wavered.) It’s God that saves us, that holds us up and carries us when we fall down in weakness and despair. He is strong enough, even when our faith isn’t. Beautiful post!

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