On 9th April, I received a voice mail from my friend Sheetal in the morning. A couple of months back, we were talking about God’s healing and about the same topic, she had shared her beautiful and deep insights with me. I listened to the mail and thanked her for her thoughtful message.
But little did I know that I would need her words in the next few weeks; or maybe, the voice message was preparing me in advance for the worst that was headed my way.
The very next day, my parents and my younger brother were tested positive for Covid -19. And within a few days’ time, my husband too was found infected by the virus. My biggest fear came true as the deadly virus had reached my dear ones when I least expected it.
No anticipated results + No pat on my shoulder + No favourable circumstances = I quit
This has been my equation for so long. I have always needed evident results to carry on any work. For me to stay encouraged and not to give up on anything, I always need someone to cheer me up and believe in me so I can trust in myself. Good outcomes keep me motivated to go ahead and the opposite of them makes me give up.
So, on one particular day, when I noticed that I had been getting few views and visitors on my blog posts, I came to the conclusion that I probably should quit writing as there are not many people who are relating with what I want to share. Writing and sharing a blog post has always been a lonely journey for me but at this very moment when I couldn’t see many views on the view bar, I felt I am not making a big difference through my writing. I felt unqualified and uncreative in running a blog.
I sat in the doctor’s cabin with my daughter Jennie in my arms and an expectation in my heart that the doctor we were meeting may suggest some better treatment plan for her. After all, he was the expert, a well-experienced and renowned Neuro physician in the state. It had taken a lot of effort to reach him and get the appointment which seemed difficult to get initially.
“Jennie Livingston – No. 7” was the call from the hospital staff and I rushed carrying her in my arms, adjusting my mask and holding her previous reports in my hand to see the doctor I was keen to meet.
Today, I am inviting my dear friend Sheetal Thakker to share her story of faith with us. She lives in Banglore, India. She is a wonderful person and a woman with a strong faith in Jesus. She will be sharing with us about her journey of her life’s unexpected storm and her experience as she chose to trust God amidst all the challenges. Welcome Sheetal!
As I was making her sleep around midnight, looking at her innocent face in the dim night light, my heart melted. I felt a sudden heartache and I cried for my daughter as I held her close to me and kissed her on her forehead. I recalled all the struggles and pain she has been through in the last seven years of her life. I felt a deep pain for her remembering about her diagnosis. I thought, I was much stronger emotionally but I was not. The pain seemed still fresh for the situation my child is in.
According to the Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are 5 stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
When we go through grief of a certain kind, our first reaction will be denial. We will be shocked and won’t be accepting the realities.
The second stage will be anger. We will feel angry at the situation, at people around us and sometimes at God for allowing the crisis.
The third one is bargaining. Secretly, we may make a deal with God in an attempt to postpone the crisis and the related pain.
The fourth stage is depression. The reality slowly sets in and we often feel sorry for ourselves and wonder why something like this could happen to us. The feeling of depression is often accompanied by the feeling of self-pity and of being a victim.
The fifth stage of dealing with grief is acceptance. We come to terms with the grief and begin to look to the future.
Once we have reached the acceptance stage in dealing with our grief, we move towards resurgence. In this phase we take full control of ourselves, our emotions, and the situation and begin to think about what we can do next to move ahead.
In relation to my daughter’s medical condition, I have been through almost all these stages and I was pretty much sure I was in the resurgence phase, as for quite a long time I could maintain my emotions, keep myself motivated through each day and keep my constant faith in God for her life. But a few days back, I had a relapse and it felt sudden and severe. I couldn’t hold myself anymore in the resurgence phase. I felt shattered.
My heart pained for her to the extreme that all I wanted to scream was; “God, why does my child have to suffer? why does she have to live such a difficult life? What is her fault? It isn’t fair that she is suffering? Why she gets to have such a dependent life and struggle every day?” As I held her close to me, I let my tears flow for her. For a moment, I couldn’t accept the hard realities of her life and I kept crying through the night. It seemed like I had almost gone back to the denial stage – all the way back….
However, in the midst of this sudden surge of grief, as I prayed for her, I remembered Jesus on the cross and the agony He had to go through. Was it fair that God had to send His son to die for my wrongdoings? Nope! It wasn’t fair that Jesus’s innocent blood to be shed for me, it wasn’t fair that He was mocked, stripped off His clothes, whipped, beaten and crucified on the cross ruthlessly. But it’s God’s love for me which caused Him to see the painful sight of His child suffering on the cross. His heart pained just the way my heart pains seeing my child suffer. But this was the way I was going to be accepted, forgiven and loved. God definitely cared for my pain and understood how I felt. This insight into my heart made me surrender to His sovereign plans for Jennie and to know that He loves her more than I do. Though I don’t have all the answers and can see only the half picture but I know the ONE who sees the full picture of her life. I just need to have faith in Him.
I fell asleep and woke up the next day with swollen eyes and a headache but relieved and consoled heart. And I no longer found myself in the denial stage but the resurgence stage again with a renewed hope and His just enough grace on my life for the very day. I am not sure if I will ever be fully in the resurgence stage. I may have the emotional relapse from time to time but this is where I will always need God’s mercy to carry me through. With Him by my side there will be His hope in between all these stages and no matter which stage I slip back to, I will always come back to the resurgence stage and see my pain in the light of His glory!
I pray, you too find His strength and assurance in those most hurting and questioning moments of your lives, experience His deep and abiding hope when you are weak in your burdens and see your pain in the light of His glory. And when you question ” why me Lord, it isn’t fair?” Let God’s mercy carry you through revealing each moment His greatest & painful sacrifice and selfless love for you!
“Weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”. Psalm 30:5
Recently I came across a beautiful story of a father and a daughter. A dear sister has sent the video to me as an encouragement and it truly touched my heart to the core. It wasn’t just a story to watch and forget but it also spoke an assurance to my heart.
Once, a father and a daughter were driving home in a night and the father let the daughter drive the car. While they were on their way, a bad storm broke out. And the daughter being a new driver, felt a little bit scared.
She looked over at her father. She said, “Daddy,you think I should pull over to the side of the road and the father said, “No, no baby! Just keep on driving” so she kept on driving.
Most new things in his life are very stressful for him but this camp however was not. My 8 years old son, Asher, joined a three days kids’ camp online and seemed really excited about it. To my amazement, he did participate in it very well. There were action songs, games and Bible-based activities which he did with my help and actively involved himself in learning.
Whenever the winners’ names were announced, he waited with hope that his name would be called out too. Each time they announced the winners’ names he would turn to me and ask in excitement, “Mummy, will they choose me?” Consequently, in three of the activities he participated, his name wasn’t in the winners’ list. Seeing his gloomy face for not being chosen, I would assure him that among two hundred participants, they chose only the first 10 or 20 kids, you see the rest of the other kids aren’t winners too. But he was too determined and hopeful to be chosen.
Have you ever felt unqualified for certain tasks which you have been appointed for or certain responsibilities which you ought to carry or certain roles you are expected to fulfil in your life?
I am not talking about educational qualifications but about feelings like when you thought to yourself “I am a misfit”, “I am not enough”, “someone does it better than me” or “I don’t have the right skills set” or maybe “I don’t have what it takes”. Such thoughts probably have rattled your mind especially when you failed to do certain jobs perfectly.
I have also been feeling unqualified lately and the feelings are intense. I feel unqualified when I hit the publish button on my site to share my blog post. Comparing my writings with other wonderful bloggers and their crafting of words and the consistency they have in posting blog after blog every week, I wonder if “I am a misfit” in this brilliant world of prolific writers.
I feel unqualified when I teach Asher all his subjects and often get stuck at some of the lessons which I find tough for me to teach him. I doubt if I am the right teacher for him. I sometimes feel “I am not enough” and wish that he could be accepted in school and taught by well-qualified teachers.
I feel unqualified being a mother to my daughter. I do love her, and do everything to make her feel at ease but I still see her with no milestones and struggling hard even to sip water from a spoon. I feel “not the right mother to her” as my efforts, prayers, and tears aren’t gaining the desired outcomes for her.
In the midst of all my feelings of being unqualified, I am reminded of a person from the Bible who felt unqualified too. When God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of the Egypt, Moses’s answer clearly revealed that he felt totally unqualified for the task.
“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11
I love the way God gently assured him.
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12
God promised Moses that He was with him. All Moses had to do was to show up, be available and trust God’s power instead of worrying about his ability of being the qualified candidate. We all know the remarkable outcome of Moses showing up and making himself available for the task: He was able to take the Israelites from Egypt with a magnificent victory.
And the same God assures us today with the same promise He made to Moses.
As I ponder on the beauty of God’s promise, I realize that it doesn’t matter how qualified I feel or don’t feel for the tasks which God has entrusted to me, because it’s not about my qualification but His strength which will sustain me at the end of the day. All I need to do is to show up, keep sharing my words with the world, be consistent in teaching my son, be there for my daughter and trust God with the rest.
Maybe like me you too have felt unqualified. Maybe it’s in your marriage, in your parenting journey, in your spiritual walk with God, in your workplace, in your attempts to reach your dreams or acquire new skill, or maybe in certain responsibilities which seem bigger than you.
Showing up may seem a painful process, feelings of inadequacy maybe real, the road you walk on may seems unending and the journey may feel tiring and challenging every single day. But let your heart be encouraged with the this beautiful truth that you aren’t alone. It’s not you who decides your ability but it’s Him who believes in you. And being unqualified will only show His power more and more through your life. God promises you that He is with you. Will you keep showing up and trust Him with the rest?
As our children ministry activities are on hold due to the present situation, a thought came to me to start the lessons for kids online. But the shooting part- like facing camera and talking to it pretending as if talking in the room filled with kids, felt strange in the beginning. I made a lot of mistakes while speaking in front of the camera but I can also say that I am improving week by week. It felt great sometimes but sometimes it didn’t when I didn’t do it the right way and my mind went blank in between, when I needed water for my parched throat frequently, and when I struggled to find the right Hindi words and couldn’t speak fluently in one stretch.
The best part of making the videos is that we have many options and no matter how many errors are there, we can cut that part by editing and present a flawless video using different effects, lights, and music. So it’s assuring that only the good parts of the production will be presented. Nevin does the shooting and editing work and I make sure he edits it in such a way as to make the video attractive and enjoyable for the kids. And I also make sure that even my slightest mistake shouldn’t be revealed anywhere.
I wonder, how many times we do the same thing with our lives too. We want only the good part of our character to be shown to others. We are conscious about not revealing our errors and the “not so good” side of ourselves to people. We wonder, whether they will still accept us and like us if they come to know about the imperfect side of us. So we try our best to cover it up and show the good version of ourselves to the world. But the reality soon sinks in. Unlike the video, our “errors” can’t be hidden at all times. Sooner or later, our feelings like our hurts, anger, frustrations, disappointment, regrets, envy, doubts, feeling of being overlooked by others, feeling of injustice done to us, feelings of all sorts of negativity which sometimes rattle our mind in some most challenging & hard days get uncovered. And our “unedited version” gets unaccepted by the world.
In the case of video making, it is acceptable to edit the video and cut short the unnecessary part of it to make it more presentable and acceptable but in real life, editing the different aspects of our character will not work. In the efforts of perfecting, presenting, pretending, posing, pleasing, proving and performing for others to gain their approval or to keep certain relationships unruffled or to hold on to our “good version” hard enough, we may fail to be our true selves.
But here’s the beautiful truth we often overlook when we try hard to win the approval of the world.
God doesn’t see what the world sees!
To give you its acceptance and make you qualified on its measuring stick, the world will only look at the outer appearance – your good performance and everything which is acceptable about you. But God sees your heart. He sees all your feelings, even if they are not so good some days. He sees your imperfections, He sees that “not so good” side of you, He also sees your tears, your pains, your joy and the “good” side of you. He sees both sides of your HEART and He still accepts you the way you are.
God accepts even the unedited version of you!
We struggle hard every day to present our “good version” to the world but we fail many times to hold that “good version” for a long time, as we know deep inside that it’s not all about us. There is more, there is this “not so good part”. There are weaknesses, there are failures and there are many imperfections too. The world may not accept you always, especially when you fail to please it, but rest assured that your Heavenly Father will. What matters the most is that you only strive to please Him and know that He alone values and accept the “Real You” and He accepts even the “unedited version” of you.
In these day, every morning I wake up I am so tempted to read the news first than read the Bible or any encouraging devotion. The news I am afraid to hear is about how many have lost their battle to Coronavirus, whether the toll of positive cases is rising, if there are any more cases identified in my city etc. There is unexplainable tension which, from the start of the day till the end, makes the heart heavy and forces the mind to think about nothing but this frightening disease which is spreading across the world rapidly.
The fear of the unknown and what’s next is real. Even though social distancing, closed schools and staying at home haven’t affected me much, because most of my time is spent being inside the home and my son is being home-schooled. However, the most unusual thing is to see no person on the road, closed shops, the news of city closing down, no sound of vehicles on the highways, no conversations of people heard around or no children playing in the locality. It almost feels like a lonely Island.
In this most unknown season of life, one can’t just think in a composed way or do anything without losing concentration and enthusiasm. Just a sneeze or slight coughing from the kids or my husband makes me imagine the worst. I am cleaning the house more than I did before, taking every precaution as explained by the experts, checking on children’s health more than I did before, reading and watching every piece of news on social media more than I did before, using WhatsApp to read and watch every forwarded message & video and every piece of information on COVID-19 more than I did before, getting lost in my thoughts while doing the household chores more than I did before, and most of all to be honest, I am praying without fail every moment for God’s protection and His grace more than I did before.
At one moment there is a feeling of faith in God and the next moment the frightening news overpowers the faith and makes the mind have anxious thoughts. These mixed feelings remind me of a story in Bible when Peter asks Jesus if he too could walk on water. Jesus asks him to come over. As Peter walks, seeing the wind, he gets afraid, his faith begins to waver and he begins to sink. He cries out to Jesus to save him. We read further that Jesus immediately reaches out and rescues him.
Peter’s doubt and fear make him to sink in the water, but despite that Jesus holds his hand and saves him.
Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31
In the same way, when I begin my day stepping out of my bed believing God for peace, strength, joy and more faith to walk by, but each time the wind of scary news comes in, each time I hear children sneeze or cough, each time I read the statistic of cases being raised, I begin to sink in the anxiety, in the unknown and the unpredictable outcome of this challenging season. Even randomly imagining what it would look like if I become a victim of it or my loved ones become a victim of it.
Being a human, it’s easy to feel concerned about many things; it’s ok and just normal to have fear of the unknown and be worried about our beloved ones. But it also is possible to focus more on the promising and uplifting things in the midst of this crisis. It is also possible to fix our eyes on Jesus rather than the challenging situation.
In midst of all the daunting news on social media, a beautiful encouraging card I came across which is in my native Hindi language. It says that “God’s mercy (meaning Karuna) is stronger than the Corona. There is healing in Jesus’ name”.
The fear will be real but God’s grace & compassion will be real too. With our human efforts, we can take all possible measures to remain safe but the truth is: – He will always protect us not only during the pandemic but during every crisis that will show up. He will rush to hold our hand not only when we sink in our fear, but also when we walk by His promises, He will guide us to do what’s right and necessary not only when we feel hopeful but also when we are down in our faith. His Karuna (Mercy) will be always bigger than the Corona we are afraid of.