dealing with a spouse’s serious illness | faith


Part III: Faith

“What are you doing?” I asked my sister, Jill. I saw her filling out a form, hunting for a stamp, and addressing an envelope, all with a gleeful look on her face.

“I’m going to win this t-shirt.” She pointed to a sheet of paper so thin the ink had long since left the creases in the paper. On it was a photo of a t-shirt with some ironic, goofball phrase and the words, WIN THIS T-SHIRT. She confidently licked the envelope, walked through the enclosed porch, and stuck it in our mail slot.

“You know your chances of winning that shirt are next to zero, right?” I said from my lounging position on the couch.

“No, my chances are 100 percent, because I’m going to win it!”

I let my book drop onto my chest. “Jill, don’t be ridiculous, you’re not winning that shirt.”

“Yes I am.”

“No, you’re not, just give up hope now.”

For weeks after our exchange, Jill would run to check the mail every day to see if her shirt came. Each time, I’d yell after her, “You’re not going to win that t-shirt!”

Months later, Jill emerged from a dash to the mail slot with a box. She held it triumphantly up in the air, looked at me and shouted, “O Ye of Little Faith!”

She meant it as a joke, but I think about that story a lot lately. Is my faith puny? It is enough to take on Brad’s health problems? I sometimes wonder if my atrophied faith is holding us back. Then I remember it’s never about me–it’s about God, what He can do, what He’s already done, and what He will do in our lives.

God is faithful. One of the most remarkable things about faith in the Bible is that the majority of mentions refer to God’s faithfulness to us rather than our faith in Him. Not to downplay the importance of having faith, but the bigger story here is the ever-constant truth that God is faithful. Psalm 91 says God’s faithfulness is a shield. I love that.

Faith as a feeling. If we had to depend on feeling faithful to actually be full of faith, we’d be lost. Faith is action taken based on belief in an unseen God and His word. When I’m feeling a lack of faith in God’s sovereignty or His goodness, I remember truths that speak to where I’ve lost faith. For example, when I feel like God is punishing us, I remember God is for me (Psalm 56:9-11). When I think God doesn’t understand the heartache, I remember God has seen and saved each of my tears and written them in His book (Psalm 56:8) and will one day wipe the tears from my face (Revelation 7:17). When I think God doesn’t care about my relatively tiny problems, I remember God is love and He loves my husband way more than I do (Zephaniah 3:17 and 1 John 4:16).

How do you get more faith? If you asked me if I have faith that God is in control of Brad’s illness and will bring it to a glorious resolution, I’d say yes immediately. But there’s a wide gap between knowing that in my head and taking action based on that knowledge. Because I’ll be honest, I’m not a superhero. I have doubts, I have fears. Most of the time I feel pretty desperate, so my daily prayer is that God will change my heart and increase my faith, and He has. And each day I’m reminded that it’s still not about me and how much faith I have, it’s about how eternally faithful God is to me.

Part I | gratitude
Part II | prayer




  1. Lan

    AGAIN wtih your powerful words and wonderful perspective. thank you.

  2. joannalinberg

    Aw, thanks! I’m thinking of you and channeling your honesty into my next one. The uglies will be out in full force…

  3. Jessica Graziano

    I want to take a moment to thank you for these posts. I see that these were written a few years ago but I want you to know that they have impacted me tremendously.

    My husband and I have been together for going on 8 years but just got married last month.

    Shortly after we met and began dating he let me know that he had lost both his kidneys when he was a child and now had a transplanted kidney that he had received when he was twelve.

    This didn’t change anything for me. Growing up my aunt had battled diabetes and kidney failure, it was something that my entire family had battled my entire childhood so it was a condition that I was familiar with.

    For the first three years of our relationship everything was fine; he had regular doctors appointments, had to drink tons of water and had to take insane amounts of medication to keep the kidney going but this was nothing that I couldn’t handle.

    Then in 2010 his kidney failed; the next two years consisted of constant dr appointments, in home dialysis, traveling to other states to get on the kidney transplant list. For two years the only time I left the house was to go to work. I hooked him up to his dialysis machine every night, cleaned the sight where the tube was in his abdomen, sat in the ER with him on countless nights and even got tested to give him one of my own kidneys.

    During this time the man I fell in love with disappeared. He became depressed, he no longer had any energy, lost every bit of his sex drive and pretty much just treated me as his nurse. Although I thought about leaving occasionally I always pushed the thoughts away and reminded myself of what he was going through.

    In 2012 he received his transplant from a deceised donor. After the transplant things took a while to go back to normal, although it did take a while.

    But in the past year everything has changed. He has been having horrible migraines and barely sleeps. His kidney is fine but he cannot seem to get rid of these migraines.

    The past two months have been especially bad. He barely sleep, medicine doesn’t work, we tried Essential Oils and those helped for a while but now they have stopped as well. This week has been especially trying. He has been in a terrible mood, taking his anger and frustration out on me and even worse has begun to question his faith and is telling me that he will not return to church because if God was real he would not be in pain all the time.

    I’m honesty not sure what to do about this. I know that if I push him he will retreat even farther.

    Your posts have given me renewed faith that everything happens for a reason, that the Lord is continuing to pursue my husband and that he knows what he is doing. They have reminded me that I am not in this alone.

    Thank you


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