Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When Faith Seems Unrewarded

She sat on the edge of her chair directly across from me. Her eyes were locked on mine, hands tightly clenched in her lap.  I could almost see the toxic mixture of emotions swirling through her heart and mind, evidenced by the scared expression on her pale, young face.

As I broke the news to her, her face became blank, and her body froze with fear, anxiety, and worry. We sat in silence, and it felt as if time stood still while she tried to process the fact that her life would never be the same again.

A few months prior to this moment, she had turned her life around. She had recommitted her heart to Christ and had made a commitment to transform her life into one focused on Him. For the first time in her life, she felt like she had a purpose, a plan and a future - because her faith was strong.

But on this particular day, everything changed. She had come into the Pregnancy Resource Center where I volunteer, seeking a pregnancy test, and her worst fears were confirmed.

My heart was breaking as I witnessed the battle between good and evil coursing through her veins like wildfire. So many thoughts and questions fighting for her attention. Trying to hold back tears and grasp what this meant for her future. Weighted down by the heavy fear of judgement and shame which made even breathing seem like effort. Knowing that abortion was out of the question, yet secretly and ashamedly wishing the pregnancy would just go away.

But most of all, confused why God allowed this to happen, considering the fact that she had changed, was transformed, and been made new in Christ. She had made sacrifices for Christ, including ending ungodly relationships, and had committed to living a life that glorified Him, at all costs.  Yet now, it all seemed futile, since mistakes made before her faith transformation were now threatening to steal her future.

It seemed her profound faith was going unrewarded - as if God had not noticed her transformation. As if He had overlooked all her efforts to live a Christ-centered life.

Yet, the longer we talked, the more we were able to work through the details of the situation and try to step outside of the box of fear, and into the Presence of God.

I gently reminded her that although this pregnancy was a surprise to her, it was not a surprise to God, and He had been preparing her heart for months. He knew she would be faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and He had been passionately pursuing her, all the while equipping her to face this problem head on. He had infused her spirit with a strength and courage to persevere through this trial - traits that she would have never been able to have on her own.

Godly character traits that compelled her to choose life for her unborn child, which she may not have otherwise chosen, resulting in a decision that would have altered the course of her life. God had prepared her heart for such a time as this, and now He was calling her to trust Him, in faith.

We prayed and parted ways, and as I watched her walk out the door into a world which held many unknowns, I was reminded of how much I am like this young woman. How much we are all like her.

Faced with problems that seem insurmountable; circumstances that seem beyond understanding; issues that feel too heavy to carry; and hopelessness that takes our breath away.

Faced with wondering "why". Why has God allowed pain; why has God not protected us from hardship; and why is our faith and our commitment to Him going seemingly unnoticed, or unrewarded.

Psalm 139:1-2 says "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away."  (NLT)

Even if we don't voice these questions aloud, God knows we struggle with understanding His ways, and what peace it brings knowing that He lovingly understands. 

Doubts will always come in a broken world, but God's desire is to replace our fear with faith. Our hopelessness, with hope. Our pain with purpose.  

Romans 8:26-28 (The Message Bible)   "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
This young woman I met with was not only faced with a physical condition of pregnancy, but a spiritual condition of being pregnant with overwhelming fears and doubts -  a condition that we all struggle with when we face difficult circumstances that weave themselves in our lives.

But in the midst of our "pregnancy", God longs to pulls us closer to Him - whether we are suffering the consequences of our own mistakes, or trying to balance the varying hardships of life which were beyond our control.

He is working in even the worst of situations and can use them for His glory; turning what the enemy intended for bad, into good.  A good that is far beyond our understanding, but within reach if we trust in God's promises, because God always rewards faith with blessing.

James 1:12  "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (NLT)

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Pam said...

How blessed this young girl is to have someone like you speak blessing into her life that feels like a mess. You've also spoken into mine today with your words. I've always known the scripture passage you used in Romans 8:26-28 but sometimes another version puts a whole new light on it. That was the case for me today. Thanks for sharing : )

Anonymous said...

My unmarried, college sophomore came to us with the news of her pregnancy the day after Easter. The baby's father wants nothing more to do with her or the baby, and has told her that she could easily get rid of this mess with an abortion.
When she told me, it felt like a crushing weight, all other sensations disappeared with the exception of the icy fear, disappointment, and sadeness that gripped my heart.
Yet, despite that, I am proud of her courage in refusing to abort this new life, that surely God allowed to exist and loves. And based on God's promise, I KNOW that He will ultimately be glorified. But going through this is still nearly unimaginable.
She is almost 11 weeks along, we have two much younger children, a small home, and limited resources. I've been struggling with how best to support her without enabling her.
Thank you for your post - it is MUCH needed here in our home.
I feel at a loss for resources to help me to help her.

Tracie Miles said...

Pam - thank you for comment! I am so glad this post spoke to your heart today.

Anonymous - as a mom, my heart aches with you regarding your daughters unplanned pregnancy, but praise Jesus that she has chosen life. Abortion seems like the easy way out but is something that haunts a womans heart forever. How blessed your daughter must be, to have parents that she could come to with this issue rather than make a secret regrettable decision, and that she has your love and support even though its hard to give right now.Just keep holding onto the promise that God does have a plan even though its hard to grasp right now. My prayers are with you.

Sheila said...

Thank you for your post Tracie. Funny, 31 years ago that pregnant girl was me. God HAS been faithful. That little baby is now 30 years old and loving and serving her God with everything she has. And raising her 4 children to do the same.

Thank you for making me stop and think about God's faithfulness. I needed that.

God bless you. And God bless your young friend.

kim said...

Just what I needed to hear, although I'm not pregnant, this applies to other areas that I am facing right now. I am facing chronic health issues and am a single mom and at times feel like I am at the end of my rope, but I do know that God has a purpose for my pain. Sometimes I feel all alone in this and wonder about the future, but God keeps telling me " I am already there." I am so thankful that I have a God who is present, faithful and all-knowing and sees what I am going through. Thanks again for this wonderful post..It truly blessed and encouraged me today!