In A Foreign Land With Faith

February 21, 2001
by Patricia Glore

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (NRSV)

1 Kings 19:11-12 – He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. (NRSV)

    Cancer!
    A word I never wanted to hear
    addressed to me
    in matter of fact tones
    as if I heard it every day.
    Disbelief shrouded me,
    screaming aloud
    "No it wouldn't be" …
    "it couldn't be" …
    "it shouldn't be" …
    In shock,
    in great agitation
    I clung to that dear certainty.

    Surely
    a mistake had been made …
    Someone else's diagnosis
    had been confused with mine
    I just knew.
    And yet …
    that leaden word
    heavy with overtones of fear
    hung there in the air
    daring me to believe
    in spite of welcome denial beckoning me.
    The scene came clear …
    Yes, it was me.

    My life, never to be the same again,
    changed dramatically, drastically
    in that brief second of time.
    Thrust suddenly,
    Grabbed bodily,
    I was transported
    loose now in a foreign land, …
    another world, …
    an alien place
    where nothing was the same.
    In that moment of recognition
    of dreaded truth
    I wondered how things could change so much.

    There I was
    not knowing which way to turn.
    Feeling betrayed by my body,
    smothered by overpowering fear
    born through years of seeing others suffer,
    I felt so alone, forsaken,
    abandoned almost,
    caught in this place
    I did not recognize
    or ever want to know.
    Tears came
    as grievously, gradually, I began
    to come to terms with new reality.

    Where, oh where, were You, God?
    In spite of faith
    that did not want to know
    or see such wavering,
    such questioning …
    this thought reared up for me to see …
    and hear … and ponder
    and would not be avoided.
    Slowly, ever so slowly
    I groped through the gloom of sadness,
    the pall of fear,
    thrusting away my overpowering urge to flee …
    to face this newest onslaught on my faith.

    I had to confront this question,
    this challenge to all that I believe
    and have preached about for years.
    Is God here for me at times of crisis
    as I have known in the past?
    Or was I mistaken all along?
    At this moment on my knees,
    Quaking, shaking, I confronted God
    in a prayerful wrestling match
    of heart-wrenching, tugging moments.
    Then in the after silence of my exhaustion
    in a shimmering, unspoken moment
    There was God.

    God is here and never left
    I know that now.
    It was only me
    running away from life's latest storm
    forgetting for a moment
    who always searches out the lost,
    cries with us in our pain,
    and never wants to let us go.
    I've more praying and crying to do, I know,
    in this ongoing struggle of my faith,
    for faith is an ongoing journey …
    a sojourn in different places alone with God …
    all along my journey home.

Prayer: God of life, and of all seasons and places in which we find ourselves, we pray that wherever we are we may recognize your presence. We pray for those who are troubled, that they might discover your peace. We pray for those who are afraid, that their faith may support them. We pray for those who are ill, that your healing balm may minister to their bodies and their spirits. We pray for those who are lost and stumbling in some foreign land, that they will hear your knocking and open the door to welcome you in. May all discover that you accompany them along their journey home to you. Amen.

About the author:

Patricia Glore
(deceased)

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