When God Betrays Your Trust

August 11, 2017

This post is quite vulnerable and gets to the heart of my spiritual life. But even if you don’t believe in a loving personal God, I do hope you will still come away with something of value. If not, come back on Monday for something else. I try my best to write a variety of posts so that there’s always something for everyone.

I grew up knowing that I wanted to be a ballerina and I worked hard at it. By the time I was in high school I was in a pre-professional company taking 12 ballet classes per week plus rehearsals and shows. It was grueling, but I loved it. I was made to dance! It was more than a passion, I felt like it was a calling from God. I was confident that He was going to use my dancing for his glory.

When I was seventeen I auditioned for Ballet Magnificat’s trainee program and was accepted. So after I graduated high school I moved to Mississippi to train with them. It was a dream come true! The perfect combination of artistic excellence and ministry! I couldn’t imagine anything better!

Towards the end of the season that year, it came time for “evaluations”. “Evaluations” is kind of like a final exam, only worse. It’s that scary time of year where each trainee has to meet privately with the instructors to receive feedback on their dancing and learn of their fate. Some trainees are invited to stay another year in the same level, others are moved up to level 2, others are promoted to the professional company, and some unlucky ones are “released.” Which if we’re all honest is just a nice-ish word for rejected. Ouch.

I wasn’t too worried though because I was in level 1 and my friends told me that first year level 1 trainees never get “released.” Even if they thought I was a terrible dancer, I would almost certainly be invited to stay another year in level 1.

So, I was nervous as I walked up the steps into the meeting, but I was not prepared for the devastating blow I was about to receive. They were letting me go! I fought back tears and tried appear strong and unsurprised, but my roommates can tell you that it only lasted until the meeting was over. I was a mess.

Thankfully, my friends were really supportive and understanding. Brett, my fiancé at the time, was there too so I was able process the disappointment with him. They all said that God must have something better for me and I found great comfort in that. I might not be able to understand what God was doing but pretty soon I would be able to look back and see why it was better than my original plan. He was going to work it out for my good.

I still felt like God wanted me to keep dancing so I made plans to audition for the trainee program at Paradosi Ballet in Seattle. They required a solo piece for the audition and I picked the song “Gentle Savior” to dance to. The words of the song were my hearts cry. I was choosing to trust God even when I couldn’t understand what he was doing. It couldn’t have fit my situation more perfectly.

“Where are the signs? Which way should I go?
I planned each step but now I don’t know
Tomorrow is a chasm of uncertainty
But, I will go there, if you’ll go with me

Gentle Savior, lead me on
Let Your Spirit light the way
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Hold me close and keep me safe
Lead me on, gentle Savior”

I got accepted to train with Paradosi and Brett and I moved to Seattle after our honeymoon. Only instead of dancing, I sat out in the studio as I watched my health mysteriously deteriorate. New symptoms kept popping up, until one day I was too sick to even go to the studio. By October, I was bed bound. I was frighteningly ill and no one knew what was wrong. It got to the point where I needed full time caregiving. Just three months after our wedding, we moved to upstate New York to live with my parents and seek better medical care.

That marked the beginning of my 5 year battle with debilitating chronic illness. Excruciating pain, constant nausea, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, multi-hour panic attacks, crippling fatigue, extreme sound and light sensitivity, cognitive impairment, severe insomnia… I could go on. It was hell on earth. I spent most of my time in bed or in a wheelchair.

This year, we discovered that mold toxicity was driving my illness and my body is finally healing. As I come out of survival mode I am being confronted with the questions and grief I didn’t get to process when I was fighting for my life.

About a month ago, while I was doing laundry, I remembered that disappointed yet hopeful 19-year-old, dancing “Gentle Savior.” The memory pierced my heart like a sharp icicle. “I was so innocent.” I thought cynically. It left me with a bitter taste I didn’t dare put into words.

If I had, it probably would have said something like this:

God, I trusted you and you betrayed me. Gentle Savior? You tore me to pieces. Light the way? I never knew such deep darkness was possible. Hold me close? You withheld your presence while I screamed in agony. Keep me safe? I gave you my everything and you destroyed my life and body. Lead me on? You led me somewhere that was more horrible than I ever could have imagined.

But I didn’t let myself go there. Such unspiritual thoughts! Surely, these messy prayers could not be an expression of trust in God!

I shoved the feelings aside that day, but since then I’ve come to ask, “Could they?” Could these types of messy prayers be an expression of trust in God? Should I be letting myself go there?

And I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is yes. The Bible is full of prayers like these, full of laments. God was not ashamed or embarrassed to include prayers of questioning and complaint in His Word. He knew that His children would need the language of lament in this broken world.

And in His mercy, He included prayers like these:

O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together.

Psalm 88:14-17

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.
He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;
he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate

Lamentations 3:4-11

God is big enough. He can take it. If God was afraid that prayers of lament would stain His reputation, He wouldn’t have put them in the Bible. He can handle our cries of pain, confusion, and even accusation.

Lament isn’t something you hear a lot about in the western church today but it is an important part of the christian life. As someone who has suffered deeply, I have come to believe that it is a kind of prayer I must learn to pray if I want to experience renewed intimacy with God. So, I am choosing to open up that messy conversation even thought it’s awkward and painful.

Because when we feel like God has betrayed our trust, lament actually moves us towards Him. It is the proper response. When we stifle our laments and instead force praise we keep God at arms length. It’s in wrestling with Him that we come to know Him as He really is.

Through lament we gain a deeper trust. A trust in God’s character, in who He is. Because maybe, God didn’t actually betray my trust. Maybe my trust in Him was too short-sighted and shallow.

I thought trusting Him meant believing that He was going to bring something good out of my rejection, something better than staying at Ballet Magnificat. That in another year, I would be able to look back and say, “Wow, it was really good that I didn’t stay at Ballet Magnificat. This new plan is better for the kingdom and better for me. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

You see? I was trusting God for an outcome. I was trusting Him that He’d either lead me into something even better than what I originally wanted or else change my desires so that I would want something else. It’s not that I was trusting God to give me something specific but I trusted that He would give me something I could understand and recognize as good.

That didn’t happen. The next five years were horrific. The broken dreams paled in comparison to the agony of a body that seemed intent on death. Even worse, God withheld His presence through just about all of it.

A debilitating chronic illness was definitely not within the realm of possibilities that I foresaw. But that’s what I got, and it’s forced me towards a deeper and truer trust. A trust in God’s ultimate goodness. A trust that He will use even the most horrible things I’ve endured for my personal good and for the cosmic good.

At this point, I haven’t seen enough good come out of my illness to honestly say that it was worth it. I think I might die feeling that way, but I trust that in heaven I will be able to see how God wove my tiny story perfectly into the rest of history. I will see that the world is better and happier because of my suffering. I will see that my family and friends are better and happier because of my suffering. I will see that my husband is better and happier because of my suffering. I will see that I am better and happier because of my suffering. I will look back on the story of my life and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

And so my friends, when God betrays your trust… Don’t walk away, don’t harden your heart, and don’t come with empty praises. Approach Him honestly with your questions, sorrows and accusations. Lament, and through lament discover a deeper, richer, truer trust in God.

By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

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  • Laura Davison

    Ana, my heart weeps for you and all you have lost. So much pain and so much grief. And always the challenge of how does one trust in a good God when life is anything but good?
    It really is so hard to take our pain and our anger to God, but I rejoice that you are learning.

    August 11, 2017 at 11:48 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Laura! I know you understand. ❤️

      August 11, 2017 at 5:45 pm Reply
  • Alex

    This is so powerful, beautiful, and sobering all at the same time, Ana! Thank you for being willing to share with us as you work through these important and difficult issues. We love you!

    August 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thank you so much Alex! So encouraging!

      August 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm Reply
  • Ana Ducasa

    Absolutely powerful! God bless you and strengthen you. Thank you for sharing.

    August 11, 2017 at 5:15 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Ana. 💕

      August 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm Reply
  • Bella Erazo

    What a beautiful post. . . It is so encouraging for me to be reminded of this. Thank you so much!

    August 11, 2017 at 5:24 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad to hear that Bella! I was hoping it would encourage someone. 💕

      August 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm Reply
  • Olivia White

    Dear Ana,

    I’ve been reading all these posts for a long while now, and I’ve known about your sickness for longer through the Rebelution. I’ve heard of how much you’ve suffered, and I’ve though “Wow, that must be hard”. But what I didn’t see or think of is the spiritual anguish that must come alongside such physical pain.

    It’s not like I’m a total stranger to those feelings of “Why God, why would you put me through his? Why aren’t you listening to me and answering my prayers? Why don’t I feel your comfort?” I might venture to say I can perhaps relate on a tiny scale. My brother and sister have serious mental health issues, so my “childhood” has consisted of living and coping with an “aggressive” sister and a suicidal brother, in addition to a whole lot of loneliness. There was a point where I directly asked God “Why? Why won’t you fix this?” and there was a point when I asked him to take my life away because I was so tired of this broken world.

    But when I look at someone who is enduring physical pain, all I think of is the physical pain. I understand the darkness and the spiritual struggle to some extent, but I forget that they may be experiencing this instead of just the physical pain.

    So anyways, I think one thing I’m trying to say here is that you have taught me to think differently about people with physical illnesses. For one thing, I can try to be more aware of not just their physical struggles. But for another thing, I can be less judgemental of their seeming “lack of trust”. I’ve been blessed to see God pull me out the end of my struggles and make me so much better as the result. I’m able to trust God so much more as the result, because he’s already proven his faithfulness powerfully to me. And sometimes I don’t understand why other people have such a hard time trusting the doctrine of Romans 8:28. Even the Psalmists. I think, “why were you complaining about your suffering? Don’t you know how awesome God is? Don’t you trust him?” forgetting how much harder it is to trust in the middle of suffering than it is once you’ve gotten past it.

    A verse that comes to mind when pondering all of this is one whose reference I’ve forgotten, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. I know it was talking about believing in Jesus’ resurrection, but I think it applies here too. I think God will especially reward those who trust him even in the midst of their trials, believing he is faithful even when it doesn’t seem like they’ve seen a whole lot of proof of his faithfulness.

    So anyways… this comment is much longer than I meant it to be. Sorry about that.

    Keep persevering, Ana. 🙂 Keep believing even when you can’t see. Keep being an inspiration, encouragement, and help to many people as you are through this blog and through your story. Thank you for your honesty and your vulnerability.

    August 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for sharing all of this Olivia. I really appreciate it. I’m encouraged to hear that my blog has helped you understand people with physical illnesses better. Thanks for reading! 💕

      August 11, 2017 at 7:47 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I’ve aeen the good God has brought out of terrible pain, though in this particular case, I only saw it after several decades. As for letting myself be angry with God and yell at him (again only after decades of walking with him), I’ve learned that doing so brought us closer, brought the truth into our relationship, and increased my trust in him. The first time I yelled at God he gave me a gift 🙂

    August 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      That’s so encouraging to hear Lisa! 💕

      August 11, 2017 at 7:48 pm Reply
  • David Wakeman

    What a powerful piece Ana. You are nailing it when it comes to processing with God, and I love the “God is big enough” section, it makes so much sense! It gives freedom to let your heart go free to Him, which is the point of our relationship and drives us closer, as you said.
    I love seeing your journey of healing, as it inspires a lot of thought, as well as challenges my beliefs about who God is and how He works especially in the realm of healing.

    August 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you for reading and commenting David. I’m so glad to hear that it’s been challenging and encouraging. I wrestled with the healing issue a lot, especially at the beginning of my illness. Eric Metaxas’ book “Miracles” really helped and encouraged me. You might find it interesting. God bless you brother! 🙂

      August 12, 2017 at 11:20 am Reply
  • Krista

    Ana, I think that one of the things that the Lord has given you is the ability to express how low you’ve felt spiritually–how hard it was to read because it was so raw and real. I’ve only recently heard about true biblical lament (mostly through the book, “No More Faking Fine”) and it forced open doors in my heart that I had thought I’d sealed shut. Your suffering has given you a depth of expression that can’t come any other way, because the Lord is unmistakably present and central. It gives me a lot to think about.

    Humanly speaking, I pray that the Lord will open doors of physical healing and restoration for you but that your testimony in the midst of what you’re walking through will do so much more than you (or any of us) can imagine.

    August 11, 2017 at 8:25 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Krista! I’m reading “No More Faking Fine” too and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. Lament wasn’t something I thought much about until recently but it’s such a beautiful gift God has given to us and a path towards healing.

      August 12, 2017 at 11:22 am Reply
  • Morgan

    “I was trusting Him for an outcome” instead of trusting in His goodness. Wow. Just wow. Thank you for the puzzle piece that has been missing for so long.

    I don’t know how God will continue to use your unexpected life story but if it yielded nothing but this article, I think it would still be a huge service to the Christian community.

    Thank you.

    August 11, 2017 at 10:29 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Wow… this comment. It makes me feel like all the hard work of blogging and thinking and processing is worth it. I’m so glad it impacted you.

      August 12, 2017 at 11:26 am Reply
  • Jen

    Thank you for this post Ana. You’re so right that lament is part of the christian life that we don’t often hear about in the church today. “It’s not that I was trusting God to give me something specific but I trusted that He would give me something I could understand and recognize as good.” Very insightful. People say things like “when God closes one door, He opens another.” Not true! I became a believer seventeen and a half years ago, full of hope and excited about God’s plans for my future. Instead, after only about a year, my health imploded. God crushed my dreams and destroyed my body. It took years of darkness and having no idea what was wrong to get the lyme diagnosis, and I’m only now learning that mold toxicity has perhaps been the biggest factor in all my illness. Many times I questioned why God would allow such seemingly pointless suffering to drag on year after year. Like you, I haven’t seen enough good come out of this nightmare to say it was worth it, and I don’t know if I will before I die. I’m also learning what it means to trust God even when I can’t see anything good come out of my suffering. An eternal perspective is essential. Knowing Jesus, who was Himself unjustly crushed and forsaken by God, is essential. You’re not alone on this road, neither in suffering through mold and related illness nor in learning to lament and really trust God through it. Thanks again for sharing.

    August 12, 2017 at 4:41 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Yes! Yes! Amen, dear sister! I agree with you completely. Because we know that Christ himself was willing to endure great suffering we can be sure that the reason our suffering continues is not because he doesn’t care. And yes, an eternal perspective is essential!

      August 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm Reply
  • Danielle Hartman

    Hello Ana,

    I do not know you, but I stumbled upon this article from a friend’s Facebook page. What open and venerable thoughts you have shared! I thank you for your courage and honesty. I am so familiar with your story, since I have been battling 6 autoimmune diseases for years now. I have been in the same spiritual battle that you fight daily, and the Lord has worked through every detail of my life to show me His strength through my weekness. With my sickness, I only have a 1 in 20 chance of waking up every day that I go to sleep. So I honestly cannot face each day without the Lord. And what I have learned is that, although I won’t ever understand the earthly logic of giving me these diseases, God has ordained it to bring me closer to Him. Without these, I would not have that precious and daily dependence on the Lord for life. And when He does decide to let my diseases take my life, it will not be them conquering me. The Lord’s hand will be through it all, and it will be grace winning. I will be surrendered to eternal joy. Also, how much more will you and I be thankful for that eternal redemption of our bodies than most people? The pain will be washed away forever, and that will cause us to rejoice even more. I look forward to that day, and that anticipation is worth every pain. As an artist as well, I have made a short film about my spiritual struggle with chronic illness. Here it is: https://vimeo.com/56124799

    August 12, 2017 at 5:56 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Wow… Thank you for sharing Danielle. What a story! Beautiful video too! May the Lord be near to you as you continue to cling to him. 💕

      August 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm Reply
  • Susan

    Wow…beautifully expressed…it is hard to find the good in what we are going through…I am exhausted with trying to live…everyday is a fight…I keep thinking it has to get better. Everyday I ask what is the lesson I am suppose to be getting from all of this? Everyday I wonder why me? You are so fortunate to have a loving husband beside you.

    August 12, 2017 at 11:50 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so sorry Susan. I’m glad you’re asking the questions and wrestling though. My heart goes out to you. 💕

      August 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm Reply
  • Ashley McKinley

    Just a couple weeks before I ended up in the emergency room again, which led us to finally discover that my major issue for the past 5+ years has been mold, I attended a weekend retreat on lamenting. I cried out to God for understanding as to why He just kept heaping on more and more hardship. Little did I know at that moment just how hard it was about to get. I am so grateful I learned this tool before starting our most recent journey and I am so thankful for a God who hears our cries. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

    August 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Wow! That’s amazing Ashley! What a blessing to learn the language of lament beforehand. 💕

      August 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm Reply
  • Sara

    Amen! I don’t have the words I’d like right now, but that was so encouraging to read. I want to cry and laugh all st the same time, as I’ve faced similar struggles and questions. A song I’ve really enjoyed is https://youtu.be/nfXwzMi1FxA

    August 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Oh! I’m so glad to hear this Sara. Thank you for sharing that song. Those are some beautiful lyrics! 💕

      August 13, 2017 at 1:36 pm Reply
  • Chris Barratt

    Ana, this post was so amazing!! I cried. This touched me deeply. You’ve expressed things that a lot of us feel and experience, but don`t have the courage to say. I’ve felt this way myself, lots of times. There are so many thing’s this side of heaven we humans just don`t understand. And I fear we never will. But this post expressed that raw pain and experience that screams “why” in the midst of it all. I know I’ve mentioned this book to you before, but when I read this post it sounded like Gerald Sittser in his book, A Grace Disguised. I truly think his words will resonate with you. And from the words you so eloquently put here, I can see a book from you someday. In the meantime, the ministry you have hear is blessing people daily and I thank you for it and praise God for you!!!! (PS. My husband is struggling with these issues about God right now too. So I read it to him and it really affected him. So thank you!)

    August 13, 2017 at 7:47 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much Chris! This comment makes me feel a lot less alone. To be honest, I don’t know that I really had the courage. This post was born out of prayer. I just purchased the book and will hopefully start reading soon. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m glad to hear the blog impacted your husband too. 💕

      August 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Hey Chris, I don’t know if you’ll see this comment but I hope it alerts you somehow. 💕I just finished reading the book this morning (I’ve had more time to read now that I’m not able to keep up with the chores.) A lot of it really resonated with me. Especially the part about recovery from loss not really being the goal. So insightful & freeing… we’re going to grow into something new and beautiful but it won’t be going back to what we had and were before the loss. Life can be good again but not the good that we originally wanted.

      I also liked his honesty and what he had to say about God’s sovereignty as that is something I’m really struggling with currently. I wished he had elaborated on it more.

      Anyway, thank you so much for sharing that resource with me. I think I’ll have to read it again at some point.

      August 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm Reply
      • Chris

        Ana! So glad you had the chance to read Gerald’s book. It is a one of its kind resource as not many people have went through that much, and there is not much out there like it. Yes, I wish he would have went on alittle more on certain things. God’s soverignty is one of those really difficult subjects. Jennifer Kennedy Dean does talk alittle more about it in her bible study called Live a Praying Life (she has special appendix at the back that deals with this). But truthfully, I think that even theology majors have a tough time with this topic. I struggle with this too. For instance, right now my daughter Amanda is doing research on her new book that is set in WWII. So we have been watching all these movies and she’s doing tons of research and frankly the more I know about it, the more I struggle with how God let it go on for so long. There were actually 15 attempts to kill Hitler by his own people in an effort to stop the madness, and some of them, if only one little thing would have been different, they would have been successful. So why didn’t God help/allow that one little thing to happen? My girls and I talk about these kinds of things all the time. The conclusion I’ve come to currently is, there are just some things we will not understand this side of heaven. Since I’m only human and have a human mind, I will just not be able to comprehend the why of it all. Even though I’d truly like to. The world is full of so much evil and unanswered questions and things that just don’t make human sense. But if I truly believe the Bible, then I know the end of the story and know that things will be made right in the end. So i try to hang onto that, but its not easy. In fact, its downright hard most of the time. So I get where you’re coming from, Ana. Gerald also struggled with these things in the book too and I appreciated his transparency, like I appreciate yours. We all should “Not Fake Fine” anymore. Non-Christians can’t relate when we do. And then we can’t help each other, either!! (Love that book by Esther Fleece!! :))

        August 21, 2017 at 6:54 am Reply
  • Ellie Peetz

    Hey Ana, that was a beautiful post! by the way is that you in the picture?

    August 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks Ellie! Yes, it’s me about 6 years ago.

      August 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm Reply
  • Ana


    This post has really had a great impact on me the last few days since reading it. I’ve sent it to multiple family members and friends in addition to being deeply impacted myself. As a former trainee at Ballet Mag that was let go, in one day my entire future pulled out from under me, I have been able to relate to this in a unique way. Trying to pick up the pieces and continue on after that has been messy and unfulfilling to say the least. On top of that, life before that and now in general being unnecessarily hard. When you feel like you’ve given all of yourself to serve the Lord but all you receive is more brokenness and strife…with no answers. Still in the healing process, these questions and answers you have written about your journey have been inlightening to say the least. I am awed and grateful for your resilience in your walk with the Lord, it speaks volumes to your character and to the power of God. Thank you for speaking of this and being vulnerable with your heart. You are a beautiful person!

    August 13, 2017 at 2:49 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… Thank you so much for taking the time to write this Ana. It’s nice to hear from another former trainee… (and name twin! 🙂) I’m so sorry you’re going through the grieving process and confusion of being let go. There aren’t any easy answers and it takes time, a lot of time sometimes. Just give yourself grace and don’t beat yourself up for not getting over it faster… God be with you sister. 💕

      August 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm Reply
  • Helen

    Hi Ana,

    I don’t know you personally, but I fear you might not realize how much good this blog does in the life of others. I often draw strength from it when I feel ill or discouraged, and you consistently inspire me. Because you articulate your thoughts and feelings so beautifully, I find myself relating to you much better than some other mold avoiders. Your expression of vulnerability is a gift to others who are suffering. Perhaps you don’t yet see the goodness in your suffering, because you don’t know of the people who read and find hope in your words but don’t comment. I think of your willingness to share as a blessing in and of itself, I am sure there are more lurkers like me, too.

    August 16, 2017 at 3:16 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Helen. It’s so kind of you to bring this encouragement…Thank you so much. It’s so healing to hear that my suffering is bringing about good in the lives of others. God bless you Helen. 💕

      August 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    Ana, thank you for this extra long and open-hearted post. Such true words! I just got back from a ladies retreat at my church, so I’m getting caught up on your posts a bit late. I was reading John 11 in my Bible reading, about Jesus and Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. The account took on a new light for me, when I remembered a dark time in my life, when I prayed for a young friend’s life to be spared from cancer, but he still passed away. That feeling of God not answering my prayer really damaged my trust in God far more than I realized (for a long time). I remember crying alone in my dorm stairwell, feeling like no one else could hear me or cared that I was grieving, and unable to go to the side of those I wanted to comfort (and needed to be comforted by). It has taken several years for my faith to revive, and my prayers to find confidence again. This last Sunday, my pastor preached from Mark 4 about Jesus calming the sea for His disciples. Then it struck me. Storms. I’ve had this thought before: there are different ways God deals with us and the storms in our lives. He may bring us safely to the other side. He may calm the storm. He may deliver us right out of the storm. But… like Lazarus… sometimes, for reasons only God knows (and I’m learning to accept in faith, claiming Proverbs 3:5-6), sometimes God just lets the storm happen… and after the storm, He comes along and picks us up again. These are without-a-doubt the hardest storms of life. We ask why, we doubt, we fear, we struggle, we fight, and we stress our way into sickness and depression. And, you’re right, God lets us ask those questions, and express our emotions, and fight those spiritual battles. That’s why He calls us Christian soldiers. Soldiers get wounded sometimes, and after the bullets and smoke clear, then your buddy comes along and pulls you back from the front lines. God is always there in our lives, but not always answering our prayers like (or when) we want Him to. We don’t always feel His presence, but we know from the Bible that His love is unchanging, He never forsakes or forgets us, and He always has a future in mind for us (even when we can’t seem to see it for ourselves). It really got to me, reading the start of John 11, as Jesus is talking to His disciples. He knew when Lazarus got sick. He knew when he died. Jesus wasn’t there for Lazarus. He couldn’t be, though He wanted to be. Jesus came to do the will of His Father (the trinity is beautiful, and another thing we can’t fully understand, but shows us incredible things about the nature and heart of God). I can’t understand all the reasons why Lazarus had to die, but I do know God was glorified in the end, and Lazarus was brought back to life, and probably never ever feared death or being killed the rest of his time on earth. God always had a plan, but that didn’t make it easy for Jesus to complete that plan. It amazed me to see the humility of Christ, His love and compassion for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (Jesus wept… that says it all to me). He wasn’t “showing off”, and He wasn’t being cruel. He trusted the Father, and obeyed His will. His heart cared for everyone, and just as He says we should, He truly wept with those who wept. How can I not follow Christ’s example? If it was hard for Him, then I know it’s okay for it to be hard for me too. I don’t know if that quite makes sense, Ana. It really helped me this week, in thinking over and understanding better the darkest storms I’ve gone through. I really encourage you to read John 11. I think about you and your husband often, keeping you in my prayers, and considering the lessons and grace God is showing me through your ongoing story. I thank God for each new chapter of healing and understanding you find, and I thank you so much for having the courage and openness to write them. ~ Your sister in Christ

    August 21, 2017 at 8:18 am Reply
  • Brittany Jennings

    This looks like an older post, but I hope I can reach you. What you have written here was like an arrow to my heart and balm to my wounded soul. I have crippling depression, and have given up on a joyful, meaningful life. I barely escaped being confined to a behavorial health unit for the fourth time this year just last night. I have been a believer since I was small and I am wrestling with God over the devastation my illness has caused in my life. At one point this summer, I was on my hands and knees on the floor of my hospital room, sobbing and pleading with God for healing and help until I could no longer speak or stand. I continued to cry and soundlessly mouthed my desperate cries. Now it is fall, and I am still in so much pain that I just wish I could die. I feel so betrayed by God, and I have been trying to stifle that feeling, believing it was wrong to indulge in that kind of thinking. I thought that surely I had no right to question God or His motives. But, as you said, God’s word has lamentation in it. These people knew that God was righteous and good and did not know what God was doing and did not hesitate to ask Him. David himself did so and we are told that he was the apple of God’s eye! I think you hit the nail on the head by differentiating between lamentation and a lack of faith in God.

    September 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Oh dear sister! Thank you for taking the time to share your story. My heart is so broken to hear of what you’ve been through. Mental illness is often worse than physical illness and I’ve dealt with both. I am so glad my words have given you the freedom to lament. I think that is the first step to soul healing even if the symptoms are not alleviated.

      But please, dear sister, don’t give up on a a joyful and meaningful life. I’m not saying it’s something you can work up inside yourself. I doubt you can, but I encourage you to keep searching for answers. I too suffered severe depression and mental torment that turned out to have a treatable physical cause. It was a long journey but I no longer suffer with the suffocating darkness and crippling mental pain that we both know so well.

      Love in Christ,


      September 30, 2017 at 7:17 pm Reply
  • E

    Thank you for this post. As you say it is when one is feeling better that one has the mental and emotional bandwidth to grieve and ask the big questions. I am going through an upswing in my illness path and with it has come an awareness of a crisis of faith. I don’t like to admit it even to myself but I could truthfully call myself a slightly agnostic Christian. You know, when the question goes from God why are you are not fair to God are you really even there. Perhaps it really is past time to lament.

    September 30, 2017 at 10:26 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I can definitely relate. I went through similar doubts and questions at the beginning of my illness. I’m so sorry your suffering has brought you to this place. I do think that learning to lament at this point would be a huge step in the right direction. It’s not too late to bring those questions to God and talk them through with others. I think sometimes we can hesitate to voice our doubts for fear that there will be no answer. But truth is not so fragile. If it’s true it can always stand up to questioning. Your faith will be so much stronger for having asked and wrestled with the questions than it would be for just pushing the doubts aside. May you find healing and truth. 💕

      P.S. I’m re-reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis right now and have found it to be really helpful. I’m not really struggling with the existence of God but I do have a lot of other theological questions and it’s been really helpful to go back to the basics.

      October 1, 2017 at 8:14 am Reply
  • Tamam Baida

    Awesome entry, Ana.

    October 1, 2017 at 10:37 am Reply
  • Lizbeth

    This post convicted, encouraged as well as strengthened me. Thank you so much for posts like these, and I greatly look forward to your next post on you spiritual journey. =)
    You know, you really should write a book about trusting God through suffering. It may not seem like it, but because of your trials, you have a well of wisdom buried inside.

    October 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm Reply
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