A couple months ago, I had a vision of a conversation God and Satan were having about me. It looked a lot like the one they had about Job in Job 1.
God: “From where do you come?”
Satan: “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
God: “Have you considered My servant Job (Felicia)? For there is no one like him (her) on the earth, a blameless and upright man (woman), fearing God and turning away from evil.”
Satan: “Does Job (Felicia) fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him (her) and his (her) house and all that he (she) has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his (her) hands, and his (her) possessions have increased in the land. 1But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he (she) has; he (she) will surely curse You to Your face.”
God: “Behold, all that he (she) has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him (her).”
Last year was an incredible year. I had zero complaints. I had a job I loved, two church families that made me feel like I belonged, flourishing relationships and an incredible gym. I was gaining strength physically, professionally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially and relationally. I had a dream in my heart and was relentlessly chasing after it.
I hit my knees every morning in gratitude. I prayed for other people but I never had any real cries of my heart for myself. I knew I needed to make some minor changes here and there but I just had an overwhelming peace. Nothing kept me up at night. I was leading myself from a place of clarity, confidence and calmness.
I wrote my first book. My personal ministry was growing and gaining focus with every single day. I was starting to see God open doors for me to do the thing I know He has created and called me to do.
And then the attacks started coming. One by one. First, it was my finances. Then it was my job and pride. Then it was my relationships.
Even through all these things, I remained steadfast. I knew God would provide. I knew He had things to teach me. I knew He was in control. I remained committed to praising Him, no matter what.
If you know the story of Job, you know God eventually gave Satan power over his health, as long as he did not kill him.
On February 23, Satan got that same reign in my life. It all started with an elevated heart rate. Ten weeks later, the mystery continues and I am facing words like cancer. It consistently got worse as the days and weeks wore on. I would praise God and stand on His promises, and then something else would break. There were moments in time I struggled to understand what God was doing but I only ever felt like I was literally going to die about four times. Each time, I would get a gentle reminder from Holy Spirit that no matter how bad it gets, God will not let me die.
“You have too much to do.”
“The world still needs you.”
“Your message isn’t loud enough yet.”
“This is just part of My plan. The worse it gets for you, the more lives it will change later. Your temporary sacrifice will rewrite stories and change family trees later.”
If I’m really vulnerable with you, I have longed to be 100 percent committed to my rock-solid faith throughout this whole thing. But once I started having to see an infectious disease doctor and what felt like it should be an easy fix became a much bigger, scarier situation, my perspective shifted. And not necessarily in a good way.
Because I’m human. Job was too. And for the record, so are you. I know God has the ability to fix everything in the blink of an eye, and I believe in the power of prayer. It’s the first thing I do every single day. I love praying for other people. But I realized in the last week I had forgotten God might not heal me until I accepted I might not be healed.
I was boasting to my counselor yesterday about how I have to get better because I’m going to run 100 miles through Death Valley one day*, and he asked me a question that stung deep and made my jaw drop,
“What if you don’t? What does it say about your value if you don’t?”
I argued with him (because that’s just what I do). I actually made some very valid points in my argument, but let’s be real. That was the question God wants me to answer.
Do I believe in my own message? Do I believe that I am still just as valuable to God and others even if I never run another meter again? Or publish a book? Or speak on a stage? Or even step in a gym again?
At the end of Job, everything he lost is restored and multiplied to him. He cries out to God in Job 42:5-6,
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
I don’t know if I’m at the end of my Job story yet. I’m feeling pretty great today but only time will tell if God has decided I’ve really had enough.
Maybe I haven’t. Maybe Satan has a lot more to do to me.
But what I do know is God has never left me or forsaken me. And He never will.
I also know that James 4:3 warns us that if we pray with the wrong motives, we will not receive what we want.
He might not heal me. Or if He does, it might not be in my timing. But He definitely won’t if I don’t ask, or if I don’t surrender my hopes and dreams to make room for His.
Whatever you’re in the midst of today, I want to encourage you to check your heart and audit your perspective.
- Pray to align your heart with God’s, not the other way around. We have not because we ask not. You are your Heavenly Father’s child. He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but the desires of your heart should be to follow Him wherever He leads you. In my case, I should want to love Him and His people more than I want to run marathons and see my name on the NY Times Bestsellers’ list. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I firmly believe both of those things are God-given dreams for me. But if I lose sight of doing those things to further His kingdom, He will yank them away faster than I can blink. He wants to be in relationship with me much more than I want to run a race and stand on a stage. And I should too.
- Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Throughout scripture, we see one example after another where God asks His people to build an altar to remember His faithfulness. They did that so that the next time they were faced with an uncertain situation, they would be reminded of what He did in the past. Don’t worry. You don’t have to build altars. But do something to remember the ways God provides, heals, prepares and blesses your life and the lives of those around you. I keep an Evernote journal because I’m a writer. Maybe for you, it’s a video blog or pictures. I’ve even known people to buy bottles of wine and write the prayer and date on it and then drink it later when God has answered their prayer. Whatever your system is, remember His faithfulness. You’ll need it later.
- Be honest. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Too many well-meaning Christians think and preach that if you admit you feel weak or feel angry or scared, your faith just isn’t strong enough. THAT IS NOT TRUE. Biblical faith never calls us to deny reality. We are human. This is a broken world we live in. God created us with emotions. The key to being in authentic relationship with Him, ourselves and others is feeling your feelings, being honest about them and trusting the process (God) with them. Claim the promises of God over your life. Absolutely. But also be real. Admit the truth. If you can be vulnerable about where you really are and how you are feeling, it’s actually a sign of strength. It actually means you trust God with the truth. That’s bold. It’s not easy.
Your reality doesn’t change your faith, but your faith can’t change your reality until you are honest about it.
Even more than I want a healing miracle today, I’m looking for Job 42 moments in my story. I yearn for a deeper revelation of what God’s goodness looks like. One I have experienced and that has changed me from the inside out. Job was already a great servant. God said so when He gave Satan dominion, but can you imagine how much richer and more abundant his relationship with God was after he finally got to the place where he had absolutely nothing left but his heart for God and yet he still remained committed to Him? That’s the real miracle, friends.
I’ll keep you guys posted on what’s going on in my Job story over on Instagram (Here’s my account) but I think I have decided to get ready for the miracle. Whatever that looks like. Maybe it’s healing. Maybe it’s a dream job. Maybe it’s something I don’t even know to ask for. Or maybe it’s just simply the ability to understand and accept that no matter what, God is still good. He owes me nothing. Even if He never gives me another thing as long as I live, I still have too many things to thank Him for.
*Thanks to David Goggins and his book, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, my dream of running a pain-free 5k turned into running 100 miles through Death Valley in the heat of summer. Overnight.