Soul Food

When Your Faith Feels Weak

Seven years of marriage.

Five years of trying but not trying to grow our family.

And two years of trying…and trying…with nothing to show for it but empty wallets, broken hearts, and deferred hope. I am losing not only steam in this battle to hear the pitter patters of tiny feet run down the hallway or wake up to giggles standing at the foot of my bed, but I am losing faith that I ever will.

It’s not easy living in a three-bedroom home with two of the doors closed because they are empty, void of life. I can’t help but feel discouraged because with the medical intervention I have sought after and all of the pleadings I have done, both rooms should be filled with toys, children’s books, and a little one with my eyes and my husband’s nose. But due to the struggle 1 in 8 couples face, which is infertility, they sit desolate, much like my womb.

It’s not uncommon for me to get lost in the “should’s” of my life. In fact, yesterday, while doing dishes, I got lost in the moment as I began to think about how if I hadn’t had my miscarriage, I should have had a three-month-old snuggled in my arms. And as a result, one of those rooms wouldn’t be lifeless.

But it was as I got lost in the moment I remembered a story that one of my closest friends shared with me last summer. It was about a woman, close to my age, who was also having trouble conceiving due to health issues similar to mine. In fact, like me, she had even drained her bank account on numerous tests, procedures, and medicines. And also, like me, nothing was working. Scriptures say that hope deferred makes the heart sick, and as my friend mentioned, this woman was sick.

However, even in the midst of the failed fertility treatments and the hope that seemed to be fading, her friend never seemed to have lost faith. In fact, as evidenced, it only grew. I asked her how. How can faith grow in the midst of such heartache and pain? How can, despite her hope being deferred, she can still believe it was still going to work out? Because when the medicines do not work, and the prayers you have been praying continue to go unanswered, how can your faith not shrink? How can it remain steadfast? Even grow?

This was when she told me that faith is like a muscle. The only way it can grow and stay strong is by using it. She then explained that throughout her friend’s failed fertility treatments and negative pregnancy tests, they exercised their faith muscles by painting the walls of the room they hoped to become a nursery and decorating them with their favorite scriptures. She mentioned to me the bookshelves were loaded with children’s stories that together, as a couple, they had already practiced reading while rocking in the glider that matched the curtains. And the toy box they bought at a yard sale? It was already filled with everything a child could want to play with on a rainy day. The closet was just as full with a variety of diapers of all sizes they found on sale and clothes for either a boy or girl. And the most amazing part? They didn’t keep their workout a secret. They shared it on Facebook.

The crib. The clothes. The day they painted the walls. Everything.

I sat in silence as she told me this story. All I could think about was how her friend was crazy. After all, she is not pregnant, and there she is with a nursery prepared and toys purchased. But sweet friends, the bible says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” and that “faith without action is dead.” In fact, many of the healing stories in scripture involved some form of faith that was acted upon. For instance, there is the man with the withered hand. He had first to stretch it out to be touched by Jesus’ grace. And the woman with the issue of blood? To get to the Healer, she had to press through the crowd and crawl on her hands and knees. She didn’t stay home, sulking over her inability to get well, but she went after it.

Our faith in action demonstrates just how serious we are about our requests from God.

I can’t help but look back at the woman in my friend’s story. I admire her for having the courage and boldness to exercise her faith and do it so publicly. I laugh at myself now for thinking about how crazy she was then; after all, she is the one expecting a little girl soon. Was it her faith in action that brought her the miracle? Not necessarily. But it did keep her faith from becoming too weak to hope.

Today my faith is weak. But I know that just like the woman in my friend’s story, to make it stronger and tougher to withstand the discouraging thoughts and hopeless moments that seemingly come my way, I will have to exercise it. I realize that doing this will require me to do something that seems irrational. Or completely crazy. Most likely, I will be uncomfortable. But I need something to make me uncomfortable to push me away from having a wishy-washy hope to confident hope. And I need a workout that will stretch me from just knowing miracles can happen actually to believe that they can happen to me.

Sweet friend, the truth is this: we have all been given the same measure of faith just as we have all been given the same muscles. Therefore if we want our faith to grow, and if we want it to become stronger even in the midst of our hope being deferred and our heart sick, then we must work it. This might look like you painting a nursery or buying diapers, or simply changing your words from “if” to “when.” And your mindset of “I can’t, and I won’t” to “He can and He will.”

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