How I Experience God
The nature of both faith and God is a mystery. I’ve spent years thinking about both, formulating my own hypothesis. This is what I know for sure -- we are both blessed and tested throughout our lives. It is easy to take our blessings for granted, and it is difficult to walk through challenging times. During these challenges, we have to decide for ourselves the nature of God. Is God friend or foe? Controlling or a distant (but caring) observer? Does God grieve with us when we are struggling, or does God have a master plan that we must endure? I’ve been tested quite heavily the past two years. My beloved daughter Ally has had not one, but two, brain tumors. She’s gone through surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, anxiety and pain. The WHY of this is unknown, unanswered and probably will remain this way. But what has gotten me through the worry and sadness of my child’s illness is my sense of God and God’s role in our misfortune.
My God (and I feel comfortable saying this in front of my St. Andrew friends) is a god of love and comfort. The God I know does not punish us. Bad things in life happen because of the nature of our world We all have challenges -- unique and painful in different ways. None of us go through life unscathed. My child may have a brain tumor, but you may have a marriage that is disintegrating. Or you may be losing your job. You may be worried about your child with autism or your aging parent. We all have our stuff. In Ally’s case, even though this is a big thing, I don’t blame God. I tell myself that our bodies are crazily complex, and sometimes cells go awry. Unfortunately, these cells chose to turn on my daughter, one of the most sincere, kind people I know. A person who DOES NOT deserve this. As a mother, this enrages me. I am ready to fight for my girl with all that I’ve got. But when I can calm myself and think about this rationally, I know that the tumor itself is not a God thing. If I believed it were, then I couldn’t have anything to do with a god who attacked the innocent. Instead of blaming God, I’ve chosen to acknowledge God’s loving presence throughout Ally’s health struggles.
As I write this, we are waiting to begin the second round of treatment following Ally’s second tumor. In the times of waiting and in the times of despair, I feel God. God is what is pushing me to get up every day and keep trying -- to love my family, to stay strong for Ally, to participate in life. God keeps me feeling both loved and brave (of course you, friends, are doing that too). God has people from all over the place, people I don’t even know, to be thinking about and praying for our family. Did God do this to us? Did he give Ally two tumors, causing her suffering? No. But I am certain that God is here with us, sitting with us quietly as we struggle. God is in the groceries that a friend brought to us, the friends who showed up in the waiting room when Ally was undergoing her third surgery, our family members who sat with us and supported us, the meals we have received. This is God.
I will end with a favorite quote of Ally’s and mine: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Azkaban). To me, God is the light, that gentle nudge that reminds me to see the beauty in the darkness, to center myself on gratitude, to stay the course. God is the unseen blanket of love enveloping my family, walking with us as we battle cancer once again.
“Dear God, help us remember the small blessings in life. Help us feel your presence in our daily lives, especially during life’s challenges.”
Crysta Baier has been a member of SACC for fourteen years. She is married to Rich, and they have two children, Joel and Ally. She is a technology teacher/librarian at Edgerton Elementary. Following the 10:45 service, you can find her being yanked out of the building by one of her teens who says that she “never stops talking.”