Do You Love Me?

A short time ago, God gave me a trial that I could not resolve on my own.  As the weeks ticked by, I found myself helpless and at His mercy. A stirring started in my heart, and I prayed to God to sustain me.

I marveled at His goodness and plowed through the weeks while waiting for God to move on my behalf. However, my situation turned for the worse, and I found myself in the hospital, alone. I prayed and told God I didn’t mind dying — I know I’m saved; I didn’t want to suffer. I choked back tears and told myself I would brave this out.

The next day the hospital staff, poked, prodded, stabbed, patted, and examined every ounce of me. The evening fell, and I had no way out. I prayed again with an increased sense of urgency. Determined for God to hear me, I fasted.  But, to my chagrin, fasting did not work, and I found my situation even more uncertain.

I sat on my knees with my face on the edge of my bed, wondering why God did not answer me. I grimaced when I realized that I used fasting as a way to show God my piety. The reminder that God’s mercy does not depend on your works penetrated my heart.

A spiritual malaise settled into my soul. I saddened, I didn’t want to be religiously wimpy; I tried to be strong. A spiritual apathy covered my soul with a heavy cloak, and I could not pray, I could not cry, and I could not read my Bible. I walked through the days numb.

I hated myself for acting that way. I knew better. I continued to tell myself to “Snap out of it!” But the darkness held me captive, and for days a bleak outlook romanced my heart, and I started to succumb to depression.

I tossed and turned in bed ashamed that I would ask God to forego my suffering while other heroic Christians stood firm, rejoiced, and even thank God for their trial. (It reminded me of a Biblical Counselor who once said, “When someone asks, ‘Why me?’ Tell them, ‘Why not you?'”)

I decided to stop talking to myself until I came up with something useful.

I lay in a hospital bed one night and remembered Romans 8:26-27 that says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness, and the Spirit – himself, intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” I wanted that, so I whispered, “Holy Spirit will you pray for me? I don’t know what to say.”

The next day, I cowered in prayer knowing that my heart said, “No,” but my head said, “Okay.” I chose to move forward in faith and undergo the last of my procedures despite the possible outcome of the situation.

A week later, I lay at home fighting the fear of the unknown. I grabbed my bible and opened it to see where my finger would land (why not, I had nothing to lose). Then I found Psalm 116:1 that says, “I love the Lord…” The phrase caught my breath. My tears started to flow again, and I could not stop them. Do I love the Lord? More than anything, that’s what I wanted.

As I looked back at the weeks that lead me to that passage, I had recognized that the Lord had tested me to find out that one thing — did I love him? I felt ashamed. Love and trust go hand in hand, and I had failed to see that God continued to sustain me, and in love, He brought me through a difficult situation.

God taught me to look first at His love, and then rest in that same tenderness to see me through my difficulty. I can see now that if suffering is not a direct result of sin, then we must conclude that God is chipping away at our weak faith, and, revealing to us His nature.

May God help us plunge deeply into the waters of His character, and come up drenched in the knowledge of His love.