5 years ago, my husband, Jonathan had cancer. My diary was cleared for hospital appointments and to care for Jonathan and our 2 young children. As Jonathan’s immunity got lower, due to ongoing chemotherapy, exposure to other people risked hospitalisation. So, there was no more small group, toddler group or sharing meals with others in restaurants or at home. Sound familiar?
We still attended church on Sundays but started arriving late and leaving early to avoid Jonathan being exposed to any viruses. When Jonathan was admitted to hospital overnight with a chest infection, I was broken by seeing our 5 year old son change from happy and secure to clingy; frightened to be left at school each day. Weighed down by disappointment, I became afraid to read the bible or pray and connect with God at home.
By the time that Jonathan was recovering from 6 months of chemotherapy and 3 weeks in hospital for a stem cell transplant, I had a real crisis of faith. I cried through worship on Sundays and got to the point where I could no longer sing God is faithful.
Maybe you can identify with some of these feelings or know others who have questions and are struggling to come to terms with loss and disappointment in our current isolation. As we went into lockdown, I felt God reminding me that I had been here before and learned some lessons that would help this time round.
1. Don’t Give Up on Meeting Together
Despite the struggle, I made a choice not to give up. I kept going to church on Sundays even though I often just sat and cried. Hebrews 10 v25 says “Let us not give up on meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. I am convinced it’s more crucial than ever that we connect with our church community and Christian friends. It’s not a coincidence that my crisis of faith was at a time where I stopped meeting up with other Christians during the week. We aren’t meant to get through tough times alone. God has given us one another to encourage and comfort. Let’s take every “virtual” opportunity to stay connected.
2. Revelation of the Father’s Love
In worship at a Catalyst prayer and fasting day, I realised that the foundation of my faith, Father God who loves me, had been shaken. Months of isolation had fundamentally left me feeling unloved. I sat there thinking, “I just want someone to tell me that God loves me”. At the end of the last session, someone came up to me and said, “The Father loves you”. Tears streamed down my face as the Holy Spirit broke in and revealed the Father’s love to me. We all need a fresh revelation of the Father’s love for us, especially at times like this. Why not ask God to show you again how much he loves you – Isaiah 43 is a good place to start – you are so precious to Him!
3. Freedom from Disappointment
Disappointment had become a rock in the way of my relationship with God. I needed to process the pain and ask for healing. Psalm 13 is a really helpful tool to do this. As I cried out to God honestly and put my trust again in his unfailing love, I was freed from disappointment and given back the joy that I had lost. Many of us are dealing with the disappointment of loss. The Psalms show us that it’s ok to take that pain to God and encourage us to put our trust in Him. Psalm 22 v 4-5 says “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.”
Rooted in a revelation of the Father’s love and freed from disappointment, I changed direction from being fearful of the Father’s encouragement, questioning his love and faithfulness to enjoying God’s word, prayer and hearing from the Holy Spirit about some amazing Greek adventures – that’s another story!
In this time of isolation, there are so many opportunities to connect with others and stay safe at home! Let’s have the courage to be honest about our disappointments, embrace the Father’s love for us and stay connected with each other. If we do this, my prayer is that we will emerge from this isolation stronger, full of joy, enjoying a deeper love for God and one another.
Written by Sarah Crowhurst from The Exchange Church, Aylesbury