Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

How Far Have You Come?

My daughter will turn 8 this week. Walking down the memory lane of these past 8 years, I have been thinking that I have come a long way in raising a special child. A few months right after her birth, when her unexpected diagnosis hit us hard, I had no idea of how I was going to survive. But I did, she did and we as a family did. In one of the early years of her diagnosis, I remember saying to my husband that I didn’t want to live. The time was so disheartening and the situation was so unbearable.

The most painful and helpless time in a Mother’s life is to see her child suffer continuously and without any end in sight. It’s emotionally and physically challenging. The pain crushes your heart every single day and the worst of all is, you just can’t walk away from it. I still remember the moment, when she was born. My mother and my husband were literally crying out of happiness. The nurses were puzzled as they thought, they were unhappy with the birth of a girl child. Little did anyone of us know, that in a few months’ time the tears of gladness would turn into tears of grief.

I wonder, if she was a normal child, how would she look being an 8- year old girl today? What would she say? What sort of thoughts and ideas would she have? By now, she would be of the age to demand her wishes, likes, and dislikes. Probably, she would choose her birthday dress, and even admire herself in front of the mirror. She would be in grade 3 and would have a lot of questions for me just like her brother does. But the reality of her life is far different than we could have ever imagined in our wildest dream. All we have is her presence with us but not her relationship, her voice, her sight, her thoughts, her feelings, her demands, her laughter, her hugs, and her touch.

Before she was born, I used to admire little girls in pretty frocks. And I so wished I had a girl child. And I still admire little girls but now I see Jennie in them. I hate to admit but sometimes I also feel injustice done to her. Why couldn’t she be like other kids? Why can’t my son have his sister to play with? Why can’t she simply enjoy her childhood? The forever unanswered questions will remain and I may not have them answered on this side of heaven.

Life moves on. Tears, prayers, hopes, heartaches…repeat – this has been my life’s pattern for these many years. I have survived it. There were questions about the validity of my faith. I survived them. There were endless sleepless nights and tiring days. I survived them. There have been loneliness, anger, suicidal thoughts, and despairs. I survived them. There were judgments, criticisms, stares, and mockery for the challenges we face. I survived them. Knowingly, unknowingly or maybe on purpose, I isolated myself from people. And being almost all alone on this different path, I survived it. By falling, rising, moving, and enduring, I have come a long way…

But it doesn’t matter how far I have come, how much I have faced, or how much I have endured. What matters most, is who has brought me this far? Who has walked before me? Who has given me the strength to withstand? Who has picked me up and carried me in the valley of sorrows?

When we look back, we are tempted to focus much on the amount and intensity of our pain and how long we have endured it, often overlooking who was with us in the journey of our hardships.

In life’s unexpected storm and in the lonely paths, God walks through them all with us.

How far we have come in facing life’s storms, isn’t about our strengths but His alone. Because the more we follow Him, the farther we can go. His strength reflects through our endurance and our faith in Him. Our glory in Him outweighs our momentary pains. As our battles on earth are never ours to fight alone. They belong to God. He is victorious and so we are in Him.

A few months back, I received a book named “New in the Middle – facing hardship and moving forward” as a gift, which was sent to me by my friend Sarah Jose. She is the author of the book. It’s a book about her life journey through physical disability, chronic pain, loss, hard questions, faith, healing of her soul, and the newness of her life’s meaning and purpose. Through her brilliant artwork, she shares a profound message through the book. The title says it all – Facing hardships and moving forward.

In this gift, there was a small note written for me which reads – ” Elizabeth, you are a hero! I know you don’t always feel like one. None of us do. This book is written for friends like you who are living well despite many challenges. Keep moving forward! – Love, Sarah

I have always thought a hero or a champion is someone who always overcomes, who is always a winner, and definitely not someone like me who falls many times. But over time, I realized that triumph doesn’t mean never falling but rising up after each fall. Having faith in God doesn’t cancel our sufferings instantly but it gives us strength to keep going. Our pain becomes our greatest strength in His kingdom. Sometimes, our biggest victory isn’t about overcoming but withstanding and moving ahead. In this context, moving ahead in our faith in God despite the challenges of life, believing in His Word over the negative voices, doubts, and even the unexplainable circumstances, focusing on Him rather than focusing on the trials, seeing our pain in the light of His glory, and choosing His relationship over the benefits of it.

How far we have come and how far we can go always depends on how far we will follow Jesus. The farther we follow Him, the farther we can go. Sometimes, following Him means carrying our crosses alongside but the journey will be worth it.

How far have you come?

Encouragement, Faithfulness of God, Prayer matters, Special Parenthood

From Alone To Belong

Home-schooling my son has been a lonely and daunting journey for me for the last three years. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to quit as there were times I just couldn’t make it successfully through the day.

I had always felt inadequate being his teacher. My graduate studies are incomplete, which made me doubt even more my abilities as a better educator. I had tried my best to teach him but I was always concerned that he might miss out on the essential things in his studies which only a proficient teacher can teach.

He is being home-schooled by me because he was denied admission in schools due to his inattention issues. It was disheartening to see him being rejected. The rejection could make things even emotionally difficult for a 6 year-old. I didn’t want his gifts and skills to be trampled on before they blossom. So, I needed to take initiative to continue his studies despite my challenges.

These years I have been in a fog of confusion.  Even as I felt lonely, my son felt lonely too, as he couldn’t be a part of any school and have friends. I have been praying and searching for a suitable school, or an experienced home-schooling family which might guide me along. But there wasn’t any evident result of my persistent search or answer to my prayers.

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Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

When You Can’t Have Your Own Way!

A few weeks back, we as a family, shifted back from Maharashtra which is in the northern part of India to Kerala in the South. For safe and swift travel, we considered flying, as it takes just 2-3 hours. Also during this pandemic time, it felt more convenient to fly – especially for our 7 year old daughter who has special needs. 

But, sadly, our flight kept getting cancelled for some or other reason. This happened three times in a row. It was very frustrating the third day. Every morning when we would do all the preparations for travel and announce that we are leaving, the very next day the notification of flight cancellation from the airline would pop onto my husband’s phone. It was a puzzling moment.

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Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

When The Perfect Comes…

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.

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Encouragement, Faithfulness of God

When You Think You Aren’t Making A Big Difference

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.

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Encouragement, Faithfulness of God

Beauty For Ashes

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.

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Blog Post by Guest, Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

Because He Lives

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!

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Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

When Denial Comes After Resurgence

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

Faithfulness of God

You Will Get Through It

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.

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Faithfulness of God, God's unchanging Love, Special Parenthood

Will They Choose Me?

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.

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