God delights in any faith we can offer Him with our aspiration to grow. But adversity can test our faith. Oh, how being a caregiver for a child with disabilities has tested my own faith!
The testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Growing in faith is triggered by various things: prayer, reading scripture, seeing God’s power displayed around us (in nature, in people’s lives, in our ability to do things beyond our own capabilities, etc.). For many of us, growing in faith comes by doing life alongside others who want to grow too.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
There have been several defining moments for me in discovering that my growing personal connection with God has power to influence the faith of others and the depth of my relationships with them. I want to share a personal example here in hopes that it will help you catch a vision for the power and potential there is in sharing your own faith story, when opportune moments present.
It was about this time of year in 2009, and I was sitting in a cafe waiting to meet a woman I did not know. She had contacted me after reading my family’s story in the newspaper. I was a little nervous. I was also feeling humbled realizing that someone might have been moved enough by something of our story to actually ask for a personal meeting. I felt very self-conscious. I now had a somewhat recognizable face. She would find me. Meanwhile I peeked around the room knowing only that I was meeting a mom who had two children in serious pain.
I prayed. I wasn’t sure what this woman wanted from me and I was quite certain I had very limited resources to help. Silently, I asked God to put His words and wisdom and protection over me.
Two and a half hours later, we hugged and cried and thanked each other for things like transparency, courage and shared faith. Even though we both started that meeting feeling unsure about what might happen, God made much of the little each of us brought to the table. This was a mom whose heart was broken over a disease her two teenagers carried, over the burden of chronic pain they endured (that she had tried to fix for over two very long years) and over the toll it was taking on her family.
I listened. I teared up a couple of times. I struggled not knowing what to say and felt overwhelmingly inadequate. Once, I prayed out loud for a moment (when I sensed a desperation in both of us for more of God). A few times I tried to answer questions based simply on my own discoveries from God’s Word. Once or twice, I interjected words of affirmation as I sat there recognizing myself in her story. I was inspired by her endurance but ached seeing how lost and bitter she felt.
So maybe you understand why I was shocked when we stood after all of this and she hugged me, then looked me square in the eye before making a profound statement:
“I have heard the things you said to me about God a thousand times before. I’ve heard them from my pastors. I’ve heard them from friends. But I never received them like I did today. I guess I needed to hear them from a mom who knows my kind of pain. You know what it’s like to watch your child in pain and be able to do nothing to fix it. I guess you have a credibility with me that I needed today. For the first time in a very long time, I’m not angry with God. I feel hope. I can do this and God is near. I cannot thank you enough.”
YOU will be the one to encourage and inspire
some people toward greater intimacy with God
with an influence no one else will have.
Well, let me tell you. That moment was a marvelous gift to me. That moment assured me once again that God shakes the earth when we let our lives and our faith intersect with others. He doesn’t need my story or yours published in a book, a newspaper or a blog to make an impact. God provides platforms every day in clinic waiting rooms, on golf courses, in grocery aisles, in coffee shops, at water coolers, in classrooms, around dinner tables, in bedrooms, in dance and soccer carpools, on hiking trails, in campus hallways—you name the venue. There is great power in resonance.
Our own unique platforms and moments of opportunity will reveal themselves unexpectedly. We need to be ready to toss seeds of encouragement, hope and life into soil that is soft and ready to be tilled.
We must keep asking God to publish Himself in our lives as well as on our hearts and lips with things like compassion, enthusiasm, humility, expectancy, generosity, transparency, authenticity, vulnerability and a focus on Christ.
“May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach men your decrees.” Psalm 119:171
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community alongside families living with disability.