Finding Faith: Look for the Holy Spirit's work in difficult times
"My best advice as a faith leader is to seek out where you can find the Spirit, God’s active presence in the world, still at work. This can be in the talented medical staff taking care of your loved one; this could be in the network of friends who rally to your side. The Spirit is there, at work, somewhere."
As a faith leader, I’ve walked the road of adversity alongside parishioners, someone ill or even grieving family members in a hospital trauma unit.
And often I find myself having to answer for a universe that can seemingly randomly take aim at one’s health, or worse yet take aim at the life of a loved one. That’s when I try to help those impacted find where the Holy Spirit is active in the situation.
It’s a difficult conversation to have during times of trouble: Try convincing someone hurting that we do not have an aloof God but rather we have a God who is active through the Holy Spirit and is still influencing the course of events today. And this brings us to the very act of faith, being able to walk by faith, not sight. Reference 2 Corinthians 5:7 for more.
The trouble with being faithful is that we are no more guaranteed a smoother road in life than anyone else, and many may find that counterintuitive to having faith at all. To that I would say, “I get it brother or sister! I feel the tug of doubt as often as you do!” … Then I take a breath and remind myself that faith is a lifelong journey, with ebbs and flows. And that is perfectly OK to our loving and patient God.
Recently, two of our children suffered their own serious medical issues. We feel fortunate that they have excellent health care providers attending to their needs, and that both of their prognoses look good. But they are our children after all, and nothing will test your faith like watching one of your offspring — let alone two at the same time! — endure a serious medical setback.
In situations such as these, my best advice as a faith leader is to seek out where you can find the Spirit, God’s active presence in the world, still at work. This can be in the talented medical staff taking care of your loved one; this could be in the network of friends who rally to your side; or this could be in experimental technology that could provide answers. The Spirit is there, at work, somewhere.
I don’t pretend to know the “whens,” “hows” and the “whys” of God’s activity through the Holy Spirit. But I do take comfort that I’ve become better at identifying where I see the Holy Spirit at work during difficult times.
Trust me, faith leaders and their spouses aren’t immune to bouts of doubt when life’s unanticipated calamities disrupt their lives. We are only human after all. But the beauty of the Creator is that unwavering commitment isn’t the standard by which we are judged. We are asked only to walk with faith and not sight. And sometimes, that is the best comfort I have to offer … even to myself.
Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and story ideas.