No matter how good of a Christian we try to be we all have those moments when our faith is tested. Have you prayed for something over and over again and you question why God is not answering your prayers? This week's episode will encourage you to hold on to your faith and to keep going forward in prayer during those times you may question if God is listening.
This podcast is based on award-winning devotional Living a Parable: Finding Lessons in Unlikely Experiences get your copy today! www.livingaparable.com
To find out more about Small Fiber Neuropathy go to https://www.foundationforpn.org/
For a first-hand account of how Small Fiber Neuropathy impacts lives and to join the fight to find a cure, go to https://jenroland.com/2022/04/29/two-young-moms-unite-over-chronic-illness-and-invite-you-to-join-their-fight-for-a-cure/
To book Silvia to speak at your event or to order your copy of Living a Parable: Finding Lessons in Unlikely Experiences visit www.livingaparable.com
Hello everyone and welcome back to Episode three of Living a Parable Podcast. The podcast where we remind you that life isn’t something that happens to you but something that happens for you and where we like to remind you to be on the lookout for those lessons that tend to present themselves almost every day.
Last week was a rough one for me. Last week I had to make the decision once again to stay on the ship. I have two children. They are both adults but still my babies. When my youngest, our daughter, was around 7 she started to complain of a pain in her legs. The doctors couldn’t find anything and dismissed it as growing pains and said it would go away in time. Instead of going away the pain got worse. The pain became more intense and was no longer confined to just her legs, it was now in her arms. The pain was extremely sporadic. There was no rhyme or reason that we could figure out that caused it. Sometimes it would be in one arm, sometimes the other, sometimes an arm and a leg, sometimes all four limbs. when the pain was at its worse it would affect her ability to walk. I’ll never forget the time when she started dating and she came home early one night from a date when she was 16 and this girl couldn’t wait to be able to date and to be able to stay out until midnight, so this was how I knew the pain was significant. She was on a date and she had her date bring her home around 10. She came into my room, I was already in bed. we were in bed, I saw the door open, it was dark. She didn’t turn on any lights. I could see her silhouette. I could tell she was hobbling. She couldn’t walk. So she hobbled over to my side of the bed. She didn’t say anything. I scooted over and she laid down next to me we both just cried.
I can’t tell you how many nights I prayed. I prayed for answers and I prayed for the pain to go away. I prayed we could just find out what the cause was so we would know what to do to make the pain stop. Then the day after her 18th birthday, we got our answer. My daughter had small fiber neuropathy. I know what most of you are thinking… what’s that? When most people hear the word neuropathy they think diabetes, but this isn’t that. Jordan, that’s my daughter’s name, is not diabetic. It is a type of peripheral neuropathy that occurs from damage to the small peripheral nerve fibers. I know that probably does not get you any closer to understanding what small fiber neuropathy is, but I’ll just tell you this it is a condition characterized by severe pain. Jordan’s case is considered idiopathic, meaning, she has it but they don’t know what causes it. In the cases of some it can be a vitamin deficiency or an autoimmune thing, but in Jordan’s case we haven’t been able to figure out what it is.
When you look at Jordan or talk to Jordan most of the time you can’t tell she’s hurting at all depending on how badly she’s hurting at the moment. Pain is a part of her life. but every now and again, the pain is too much. She no longer lives at home with us so I’ve asked her to call me whenever the pain becomes unbearable so that way we can pray together and also it’s so I know that if I go through the night without a phone call, she’s ok. A couple of weeks ago the phone call came at 3 in the morning. Another characteristic of this condition is that the pain seems to intensify when the person is trying to sleep or rest.
So what happened last week was we had another dead-end disappointing doctor’s visit that left me in tears and with more questions than answers, and left me with no real way to console my daughter. I couldn’t help but to think about all of the years I’ve been praying. All of the tears our family has shed. All of the times I’ve hugged her and kissed her forehead as she cried, knowing there was nothing at all that I could do to make the pain just stop. Never knowing how long she was going to have to hurt before it stopped.
After that doctor’s appointment, I hit a low spot. I will admit it. I hit a low spot. I ran through my head verses like, 1 John 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight, and verses like James 5:14-15, John 14:13-14 and so many other verses that tell us about the power of prayer. At this particular moment instead of these verses uplifting me and giving me hope, they just made me cry more and left me with more questions.
Have you ever felt like you’re doing all you can do and like God isn’t listening or so much worse you start to question if there is a God at all? I didn’t go that far, I never questioned His existence but I did question why God wasn’t answering my prayers. Years and years I have prayed for this same thing and years and years she continues to suffer this pain. I questioned what I was doing, what wasn’t I doing, what I should be doing, what I could be doing? To me this is every bit a me and God thing as a Jordan and God thing because I can see in the New Testament where parents came to Christ on behalf of their children and the children were healed at the parent’s request. I know Jordan is an adult now but you have to remember, this started when she was seven as well as my prayers.
In the midst of all of these questions I decided to call someone who I know loves the Lord and whose opinion I trust very much and that was my dad. I asked him why, why wasn’t God helping me with this. His answer was pretty simple. He answer was, “I don’t know but you can’t stop praying. You can’t stop believing.” I knew he was right, but at that moment, his answers weren’t helping. They just weren’t. Then he hit me with this one, he asked me, “You remember when Christ prayed in the garden right? What did He want and what was the answer?” If you aren’t familiar with what my dad was talking about, he’s referring to the three times Christ prayed the night before His crucifixion. It’s mentioned in three of the four gospels but Luke’s account gives the depiction of it that strikes home the strongest. He describes Christ as being in agony, praying fervently, and sweating as though sweating drops of blood. He did NOT want to do what He was about to do but He put God’s will before His own. There was a purpose for what He was being called to do.
So when I hung up with my dad my thoughts shifted from the promises of answered prayers to we are told about to the trials we are told about trials in the Bible. I thought of Job who suffered immensely but stayed true to God. I thought of how he asked in Job 2:10, right after his wife said, “Curse God and die.” when he asked do we only accept the good from God? I thought of Joseph who was sold into slavery and then the years he spent falsely imprisoned. I thought of Romans 12:12 where we are told to rejoice in hope and to be patient in tribulation, and verses like James 1:2-4, where it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
As children of God we aren’t promised smooth sailing, as a matter of fact we ARE promised the exact opposite. We are promised that trials will come but that does’t mean that God is not holding true to His promises to answer prayer.
When we go through trials that test our faith we have to make up our minds to stay on the ship. In Acts chapter 27 we’re told how Paul and some other prisoners were being taken to Italy by ship. In verse 10 Paul tried to warn them that if they set sail their lives were going to be in danger but the centurion in charge trusted the pilot of the ship and ignored Paul’s warning. That sounds logical to me. Then, just as Paul had warned, they found themselves in a deadly situation. There was a storm, a horrific storm, and in verse 20 it states they were in this storm for days and the hopes of being saved gradually abandoned. Paul reminded them that he had warned them this was going to happen and they didn’t listen to him then but they were to keep their courage because he had something else to tell them and if they listened to him this time they would all live. What did they have to do? They had to stay in the ship. No matter what, they had to stay in the ship until, as it says in vs 26, that they run aground on a certain island. 14 days pass and the storm rages on. There came a point where they thought they were going to run aground and the sailors decided that was the moment to escape the ship, but Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers that if those men left the boat everyone would die. The centurion listened to Paul this time and prevented the sailors from leaving the ship. Because they all stayed on the ship everyone lived.
I’m not the one dealing with this pain so you may think this is easy for me to say, but if you’ve ever watched someone you love more than yourself suffer and couldn’t help, then I don’t need to explain to you that that is a pain in its own right. Watching my child suffer for no reason I can understand and spending time and thousands of dollars in search for answers has definitely storm-tossed my ship. It has left me reeling with questions. I have had to remind myself that my faith is not based on whether I get my own way and faith is what this boils down to. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God, but it is also impossible for faith to exist without trials. So I guess another way to look at it is, if you’re going to please God, you’re going to go through trials. Isn’t it ironic that in order to get stronger we have to go through the very things that if we succumb to them will make us weaker? For example, when I’m being good you can find me in the gym 6 days a week. When I first started I experienced muscle soreness and my cardio endurance was an absolute joke. The only way for me to improve the only way for me to get stronger was to fight through those very things that at that time made me feel weaker for doing them.
If you’re being storm tossed right now, hold on knowing that even in trials there lies a bigger purpose. You might be going through your trial because there is something so important that God has planned for you and you have to get stronger. You have to experience that muscle soreness. You have to grow because it’s going to take a very strong version of yourself to do what He needs you to do. So you can allow that trial to make you or break you. Think about it. Every motivating story you have ever heard was about someone overcoming adversity. No one is moved or inspired by someone having something that is just given to them. We are moved and inspired by those who overcame, by those who fought.
Life is in the ship. No matter how afraid you may become or how many doubts the enemy presents you with, cling to the fact that life is in the ship. So hold on, keep praying, keep trusting, keep believing and know that He does hear you. Know that you’re not by yourself, know that your suffering matters to Him. Know that He has a plan. Know that trials strengthen you, they perfect you so that you will lack nothing. Trials will empower you so that you can help others to also stay on the ship. We can’t and won’t always understand His plan, it just isn’t possible, but we have to fight to trust Him to believe He always has our best at heart.
Remember Romans 8:28… “and we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” So we must put His will before our own and stay in the ship, and quite honestly, even if I jumped out the ship I’m going to die because I don’t know how to swim.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to ask you to help spread the word about small fiber neuropathy. So many of those who have it, they hurt every day. I consider myself and Jordan blessed about the fact that she does experience relief, but there are so many out there that don’t. The pain is non-stop. Can you imagine that for a moment? That kind of severe pain and it never goes away and doctors give you no hope. What do you think your life would be like? They hit walls when trying to get approved for medical procedures that may help, they deal with doctors who don’t understand it at all and leave them with no hope. Then worse many have family and friends who don’t believe the pain is real because they don’t “look sick”. According to foundationforpn.org, millions of people suffer from this condition, 30 million of them in the US alone and thanks to COVID that number is growing. We have got to do something to help. This condition is physically draining and it’s mentally draining. For a much better explanation on what small fiber neuropathy is visit foundationforpn.org or for a first-person account visit jenroland.com Jen is a board certified health coach who also suffers from small fiber neuropathy and as a result of her trials she has focused her efforts on helping those with chronic pain and illness. If you’re listening to this and you do suffer from small fiber neuropathy, please stay strong, please know that there are others out there who are praying for you and please know there are resources.