The Connection Between Trust and Emotional Strength

Last Sunday, I was thunderstruck while sitting in church.

And here let me pause to say that thunderstruck is such an interesting word, especially because, in the literal sense, it cannot be true: Thunder cannot strike anyone. Figuratively, it means to be astonished or astounded.

It’s not unusual for me to be thunderstruck in church. Usually, it means that some great spiritual truth has confronted some great spiritual need in my life, and I see a problem in a new light—that is, the True Light.

Back to last Sunday. We were reading from Jeremiah 17. Verse 7 says, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” In verse eight, it says that this man who trusts and hopes in the Lord is like a tree on a riverbank that does not fear the heat because its roots are well-watered. Even in a drought, this tree stays green and does not “cease from yielding fruit.”

I stopped. I reread that last phrase. Hmm. According to this verse, a person who trusts in the Lord will keep producing fruit in a time of hardship. I frowned as thunder rumbled in the distance.

Seven months ago, our four-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with epilepsy. Initially, we believed we could control the seizures with medication, but she was seizure-free for only two months. She was now on three medications and seizing multiple times a day.

The diagnosis had devastated me in ways I had not known possible. The grief, the pain, all the unknowns piled up on me, becoming a weight I staggered under. I was exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. I lost my joy and my interest in life, and my family suffered because of it.

In the drought, I ceased yielding fruit.

Which means—oh, I could not bear the thought—but I had to face the truth: If I had been truly trusting in the Lord, I would have produced fruit regardless of the season. The fruit I should have had was of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Had this fruit been in my life in the last seven months? Maybe a few shriveled apples clung to the lowest branches, but for the most part, the drought had stripped the boughs of their harvest.

But what about grief? Was it wrong to hurt when my daughter had seizures in public and I saw her shame? Did I sin when I was overwhelmed and joyless? Those feelings were real. What was I supposed to do with my pain? Ignore it? Pretend everything’s fine? I wasn’t choosing to feel exhausted; it was a byproduct of stress and grief.

But God’s Word said I should still bear fruit, regardless of hardship. How could this be possible? What could I have done differently to avoid the spiritual barrenness of the last seven months?

Still frowning, I read the next verse—and that’s when the thunder struck: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

God has not assembled His Words randomly. In a flash, I saw a connection between these verses.

The man who trusts in the Lord does not listen to his deceitful heart.

The heart—the place from which our emotions spring. My heart—that said, This is too much to bear. Instead of drawing from the river of Living Water, I had stood thirsty in a sandstorm of emotions.

God doesn’t ask His children to do the impossible—or if He does, He gives grace enough to accomplish it. What had I done wrong these last seven months?

I had not read my Bible enough. I had prayed. And prayed. And prayed. An ocean of words, a river of pain, I unleashed it all at God. But I had not stopped to let Him talk to me. This, I believe, is part of what God means when He said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I needed to let Him speak to my heart through His Word.

I had not trusted God enough. I wanted to understand why, to see how, and to know where we were going, but my questions went unanswered. This caused my faith to waver—no, to crumble. My doubt said to God, “Explain why, and then I’ll trust you.” God is Almighty; He doesn’t have to explain.

I had expected too much of myself. The seizures had returned mid-July and escalated over the next few months, the worst of it occurring over our usual late-summer craziness, when food preservation and school preparation and before-it-gets-cold activities cram every waking minute. I don’t regret my full freezer and shelves of canned food, but it’s unrealistic of me to expect I can do all that without facing some consequences. Already wearied by the stress of epilepsy, I had little reserve and stamina. In a culture where food preservation is right up there with godliness, it’s hard to lower my expectations, but I should have.

Was I sinning? I don’t think so. However, if I stayed in that slump of joyless pain, refusing to partake of God’s goodness, then yes, I would be. Because we are frail children of dust, susceptible to grief and suffering, God does not judge us for hurting long and healing slowly. He may not be so merciful if we turn away from the strength He offers time and time again.

Even with this thunderbolt pinning me to the church bench, I still have much to learn. I don’t have all the answers yet and perhaps never will. This frightens me. Another test is coming up.

On Monday, we have an appointment with an epileptologist to talk about brain surgery.

* * *

For the beginning of our epilepsy story, go to A Sudden Onset, Part 1.

To read about our experience with Phase One of brain surgery, start with this post.

38 thoughts on “The Connection Between Trust and Emotional Strength

  1. You and your familiy are now in my prayers and shall remain there. Thank you for writing this. You have no idea how needed it is.

  2. I commit to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have discovered truths from which many of us will benefit

  3. May you find the grace to trust like Abraham did, even though you cannot understand the reason for this trial. I pray your daughter will be healed.

  4. Dear Stephanie, In the last couple of weeks I have faced the surprising (to me) need to make a dietary change, because of my asthma. In looking into this, I have heard that epilepsy can be tied to diet. I hesitate to come with suggestions, especially when there is so much grief and pain that you have faced. Perhaps you have already considered this, but I have heard many dramatic turn-arounds for people with serious physical conditions. I will lift you and your dear family up in prayer. May the Lord bring you strength and wisdom in the days to come! And your post has been an encouragement to me, to press into the Lord more deeply in a time of trial in my own life. Thank you so very much for being willing to share, so we can pray, and learn from you. May God bless you and your family!

    • Kirsti, thank you for sharing. For various reasons, the doctors are not recommending the Ketogenic diet for Tarica’s seizures at this time. However, we are still exploring our options, and much remains unknown. I wish you grace as you deal with your asthma.

  5. Your pain touches my heart, dear friend. I will pray! “When you pass through the waters, God will be with you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Fear not, because God has redeemed you and called you by name. You are His.” (Is. 43) Thank you for sharing. It was such a timely and needed challenge for my life at this moment. Love, Kay

    • Kaylene? I didn’t expect to see you here. When Gina talked/bullied/bribed me into doing this (love you, Gina), I forgot how many people I know who read her blog. Ever since I’ve been seeing familiar names pop up, I’ve been feeling self-conscious. Thank you for sharing those verses. They are among my favorites.

      • I know the self-conscious feeling. But, truly, it’s okay. I am learning that we are all the same inside and my daily struggles are not new to me alone. Like Bro. Sim said recently, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” And that’s where we all are. Desperate for God!

  6. I am praying for your family. Very thoughtful and insightful writing. It is often very difficult to find joy when your child is suffering. I hope you keep writing.

  7. Oh my goodness, you will never know how much this post spoke, no, ministered to me this morning. I have already stopped and prayed for you and your family but will continue to do so. May you and yours feel the love and joy that only Christians can feel this week and always.

  8. I will be praying for your family and my church will also be praying! We are in El Paso, Texas and are 7th day Adventists. We know there is mighty power in prayer! I am also praying for strength and discernment for you at this sad time in your life. God bless you and your family!

  9. Just want you to know, I will be praying! God does not give His children more than they can handle….. even tho the weight of the burden can be pretty heavy at times. May you feel His grace and strength!

  10. Thank you, it struck home with me and I appreciate you sharing . Totally trusting in the Lord is part of our Romans 12:1 worship and is very hard to do in times such as this but is our test of faith and love. I pray for your family to have strength through this and remember that not one sparrow falls outside our Father’s care. (Matthew 10:29)
    Peace and blessings to you.

  11. Your words have been a healing balm for me. Keep sharing. I will be praying for you and your dear family. It always amazes me to find out that even though we may feel so very alone with our struggles in the midst of this world, the Lord gives us opportunity to help others with their struggles. Thank you for helping me today and being vulnerable with your story.

  12. Gina is right; WE will be praying for you, Stephanie. Your story reminds me of one that I was close to many years ago. My co-worker’s child was having seizures and their doctors came up with a radical surgery to remove half of their child’s brain, that had not developed. It was agonizing for my friend and his wife, but believers in Christ, they prayed and prayed an eventually made the tough decision to go with that surgery. If you go to the link below, you can see their child, fully grown and his story in print.

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/jonathan-607909-one-handy.html

    Keep your eyes on Christ, hang on to Him with all your might. We will be praying for you. <

  13. Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing your heart! My students will be happy to pray for your daughter. Their prayers are so precious! I am praying that you will feel God’s arms of love wrapped around you as continue this difficult journey.

    I would love to connect with you again! Since I moved back to KS it feels like we are miles apart. Know that you are in my heart and prayers!

  14. dear Stephany,
    THANK you for teaching me this lesson, although my troublescand worries are not even close to what you are going through, it helped me unmeasrable, I to was praying and praying but forgot to listen/read to the answers!
    I wish you all the strenght to go through this trial my prayers are with you and your family!
    I have friends who use DoTerra essential oils for their epileptic son they use it in a diffuser in his room and it helps him through the night maybe an idea to look into, just a thought from me..
    With kindest regards from across the ocean
    Alie Vermeer
    Netherlands

  15. I was deeply moved by your testimony, it spoke to areas of my life as well, thanks for sharing. May Gods grace carry you through.

  16. I will be praying for you. Several years ago we had a similar situation with our son. We chose to have the brain surgery and he never had another seizure. Years later, he remains on the lowest dose of medication. We thank God for His mercy and blessings.

  17. Stephanie, I will be praying for you and your daughter. May God bless both of you and all your family! May God lead you and your daughter through this trial and bring you through it with total victory, and peace. Thanks for sharing, it has certainly helped me! Blessings, Betty

  18. Oh how God spoke to my heart though you through this post. I am in the same boat 🙁 we went through some wild waters 5 years ago. I was 7 months pregnant and during this time we nearly lost our 5 year old son to Juvenile Diabetes. So we had 1 month of learning to cope/deal with this when our baby decided to be born. I was eager to have this baby so I could get back home to my diabetic. But my baby didn’t cooperate with us and we ended up having a cesarean. So now I had to stay in the hospital another full week after he was born because of complications… Meanwhile my 5 year old son was in someone else’s care. Full of emotions I was that I could just not get a hold on. Long story short.. I lost my joy, the peace I had had was now turned into fear…. Still trying to find my way through this dessert I’m In. I encourage you to find help if needed. Don’t wait till you feel totally drained. That’s what I did and suffer from Adrenal Fatigue as a result.
    Praying for you, Tina

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Tina. How is your son doing, the one with diabetes? I’m doing better now, but the story isn’t over yet. I hope I can remember what I learned this past summer and hang onto my joy. Without joy, life is not worth getting out bed for. May God shower you with grace. And joy.

      • He is doing as well as can be expected. His condition is considered critical. He is very sensitive to any insulin changes that need to be made. This morning we are facing ketoacidosis… But God will give me strength to carry this today. Thanks again for allowing your story to be shared on Living in the Shoe!

  19. Praying for you all. I’m sure God will help make right decisions. We have faced several years of struggles that I thought was awful. But one thing I learned that God wants us to trust Him no matter what the situation is! He has everything in His hands!

  20. Even though i dont know you personally, we are still connected in Christ. i can only imagine the helplessness you must feel as your child suffers and u cant take it away. i will pray for you and your family. Your post was so encouraging. There have been so many times i lost my joy and fruitfulness because i gave in to despair and what-ifs ect. You have challenged me in my walk with God!

  21. Thank you for this. A close friend just lost her 5yo daughter to pneumonia last night-I’ll send this to her when the time is right and it is good for me now.

    • Oh, no. My heart hurts for your friend. Tarica is almost five; this strikes too close home. May God give you the strength you need to be a comfort to your friend.

  22. Pingback: Learning to Put Trust into Practice | Stephanie J. Leinbach

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