Faithfulness is something I’ve heard about my whole life. It would probably even be in my top fast five facts about God. God is faithful. I’ve heard it said and read it so many times, but I feel like I’m just now starting to understand what that means. Faithfulness is a complex concept, its not an emotion, but its best understood when you’re feeling strong emotions like fear, depression, anxiety or loneliness. For example, a friend only considers you faithful, when you have stood by them over and over, especially when they felt alone or afraid. We are the same way in relation to God, because of our limited perspectives. We find God to be faithful, when we can recount the multiples times He has proven Himself when we felt we needed Him most.
This morning, I was just standing in an average church service when God planted this image through the song, Great I AM. In the second verse it says, “I want to see dry bones living again, singing as one… Hallelujah, holy holy, God almighty, the Great I Am, Who is worthy, none beside Thee, God Almighty, The Great I Am.”
All at once I got this image of me standing with my current church family, but also with people like Moses, David, Daniel, Paul, Henry Townsend, John Wycliffe, Jim Elliott, and C.S. Lewis at the feet of Jesus. Together singing these words to God, who has proven Himself faithful to each of us. What’s crazy to imagine is that God is the same, but reveals Himself to each of us individually. We can all sing of who He is, of His love, faithfulness, grace and mercy but we have each experienced these elements of His character in unique ways. My story isn’t Daniel’s story or Paul’s story but God wrote each moment of it with the same intricacy. One day we will all be able to say (and sing) the same things of God; He is faithful, loving and gracious. Our stories and life adventures will be completely different, but the way that God continually came through for us will be consistent.
The reason that this truth was so refreshing this morning, is because I’m walking through such a dry season. Like any good road trip, life is full of a variety of conditions. Some roads have breathtaking views, good weather, and fun company; but some stretches pour rain, have bad visibility, and your company is complaining that things aren’t fun anymore. There are times in life when you simply don’t understand why things are the way they are. There are times when you’ve loved so hard, that loss has left you crippled in pain. There are times when things just don’t work out and you’re left feeling disappointed and broken. Every name from history that I mentioned above knew those feelings too. They understand loneliness, pain, heartache, discouragement, and struggles, yet they all attested to God’s faithfulness. And one day we will all sing it together, at the end of our lives, knowing all that God got us through.
Each step of life, each hard thing, each road that seems to have no end, each dry and hot stretch can grow our dependance and reveal more of who God is. I think this is the hardest part to focus on. It’s one thing to close your eyes and imagine singing in heaven one day, but It’s another to wake up each day and continue the fight for positivity and godliness. But I’m slowly starting to understand that choosing a certain mindset and following down a difficult path, will grow in me what will be needed for the next season. (If you’re thinking, “Wait it gets harder than this?” I know that doesn’t sound encouraging, but stay with me.)
When I was little, I had pretty severe Asthma. I really couldn’t play in basements, attics, log cabins, near smoke (from a fire or wood stove), in cold weather, on carpets, sleep on a different pillow case, laugh too hard, or be around animals with hair without having an asthma attack. Yes, it was pretty pathetic! But I still had a super adventurous and hoodlum-like childhood, asthma attacks and all. I frequently “forgot” my inhaler at home, so, I had plenty of asthma attacks with no instant relief to be found. My family’s favorite was always the first night in a hotel. Seriously, almost every single time we traveled this happened: Dad would turn the lights off and everyone settled down. Just as we started drifting off to sleep, I would start wheezing. My dad would ask in the dark, “Allison, where in your inhaler?” It was usually in the car, or back at home. The lights came back on and my dad either went and got it or took me to the ER to use theirs. Oh, the patience of good parents… I’d literally be dead without them. Thankfully, my dad is a doctor and trained me early on to focus on my breathing instead of panicking about the restriction of airflow. This may sound simple, but it’s actually incredibly difficult and life changing when you can be successful! The truth is, I was breathing the same either way, but my thoughts were either, “O My GOSH, I can hardly breath!” Or “Hey, I think I got more air that breath than the last one!”. In the first scenario, my heart would be racing faster and would make the attack worse. In the second, I could calm my heart rate down and eventually end the asthma attack given enough time.
Later in high school, I ended up having a reaction to a walnut, that caused my throat to start closing up. I didn’t have an epipen, but my dad was home. At first, I felt the fear, the lack of breath, and started to panic. Even through his fear, my dad sat me down, spoke in the same calming voice I knew well and I relaxed because we had done this before. Most importantly, I knew that my father’s advise was going to work. I only had to sit still, listen to what he said, and focus on the air coming into my lungs, not the air that was struggling to get in.
That allergic reaction was much more serious than an asthma attack. But fear didn’t consume me because my dad was there. I knew his direction was something I could put my faith in. He had proved that he was someone I could trust with my life.
Perspective is where we choose to focus our efforts on the daily and faithfulness is what God proves to us at the end of every day, every hard thing and every season. God didn’t promise me that my life would be easy, but instead that He wouldn’t abandon me through it, and use every experience for His glory and my good. Just like my dad didn’t tell me that I would never have another asthma attack, but instead taught me how to respond to them in a way that would benefit my panic instincts. He and his advice have proven faithful, just like the truth and love of our heavenly Father.
Life gets hard; losing the people you love, having to give up dreams, saying goodbye to friends, moving to new places, gosh just watching the news! My family just got back from our first vacation without my sister’s youngest foster son. He was moved to another home, and his absence is like a gaping hole, especially to my sister and her husband. Life can be unspeakably difficult sometimes, but even when it’s not good, God is. He is faithful and He’ll be with you every breath of those hard days.
Hoping we learn to stand in faith and sing,