by Hannah Fellmeth
One year ago this month I began to experience the most difficult season of testing that I have ever walked through. This period of intense personal trial has shaken and challenged my faith. Yet, through the hardship, I have learned more about the gracious Lord I serve than I’ve previously known.
My dad—my friend, spiritual mentor, and pastor—became very sick with a rare form of cancer. My husband and I were preparing to move our family to join a ministry in Alabama, a move we had been praying about and planning for over a year. Mere weeks after moving we had to return to Pennsylvania to say goodbye to my dad and prepare for his funeral. It was anything but a comforting experience.
When we returned to Alabama, I hoped we’d be able to establish our home and settle into our new ministry. A few weeks after being home, I began to experience some physical difficulties. My heart was grieving, my body was in pain, and my mind and spirit began to struggle with severe depression and anxiety. What began as an off day here or there turned into weeks of darkness and fear.
I did have a brief respite from my struggles when I found that we were expecting our third baby. I was elated. But nine weeks later, I was devastated to discover that our little one had passed away.
With the loss of our baby, my depression consumed me. I couldn’t sleep because I had begun to experience a combination of panic and anxiety attacks. On top of the mental barrage, my body was not healing. I was in and out of doctor’s offices.
I begged God for relief, physically and mentally. I read my Bible more than I ever had. I kept Scripture or godly music playing constantly in our home. I spent time praying and examining my heart. I asked God to expose any sin in my heart; I confessed anything and everything to the Lord.
When and if I opened up to anyone about what was going on, I received a variety of answers. I do know that many don’t know what to say, and each person offered the encouragement they thought was best. I was told to look for hidden sin. I was told I was not trusting God; I was not surrendering to the Lord. If I truly had faith, I would be healed.
The guilt piled on. Was I even saved? Had I been following God’s will at all? Had I displeased God? Was this punishment for something I had done or a way I had acted? Hadn’t I asked for healing by faith?
In absolute despair, I began to plan how to end my life. I felt that I couldn’t go on any longer. It all came to a head one rainy weekend. God allowed my husband and a few friends to realize what was going on and intervene.
With some medicinal help, I began to find some mental stability. But physically, I was continuing to get worse. Again, I wrestled with why I wasn’t receiving the healing I was asking for. I turned to Scripture and here are some of the passages that the Lord directed me to:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10—God’s grace is sufficient.
Psalm 30—He will turn my mourning into dancing.
Hebrews 11:35-40—Many did not receive the promise, but perished in faith.
Philippians 1:6—God began a good work in me, and He will perform it.
James 1:2—Count it all joy when you experience trials and trouble.
Philippians 3:7-8—I count all things loss to experience the excellency of Christ.
Lamentations 3—His mercy is new every morning; great is His faithfulness.
Isaiah 55:8-9—God’s ways are higher than my ways.
Isaiah 43:1-2, 19—When I go through difficult things, He is with me.
Psalm 46—God is my refuge and strength; a present help in trouble.
Psalm 73: 26, 28—God is near to the broken-hearted.
Psalm 118:6-9—God is on my side; I don’t have to fear.
Psalm 37:23-24—God orders my steps and though I fall, He will uphold me.
Psalm 22:24—God hears me when I cry to Him.
Romans 8:28—God is working these circumstances for my good.
I do not see healing promised, but I do see God’s grace and unfailing mercy promised. He has promised to uphold me and hear me. He told me His ways are not my ways, but He is working them out for good in my life.
You see, it has not been a lack of faith that resulted in a lack of healing. The measure of a person’s faith is not miraculous healing, although praise the Lord if that is His will! The true measure of our faith is that we continue to obey and follow our Lord despite the physical difficulties ad trails we go through. God has promised His sufficient grace! When we are weak, that allows the strength of Christ to be on display in our lives. This brings glory to our Savior, which is the ultimate goal of our short lives.
I have stopped only asking God to heal me; instead, I now ask simply for the grace to walk in His perfect will no matter what that entails. Hebrews 12:1-2 encompasses the reason why I can live this life through hardship and pain: I can look to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of my faith, who endured the cross. This is the true measure of faith. May we choose to live in God’s sufficient grace and endure the race, looking unto our blessed Savior.