September 5, 2018

Feeling or Faith?

"I can't . . . . I don't want to be a hypocrite."

Jill Morikone

It had been a tough week. You know the kind, when everything seems to fall apart. Compounding it was the pain of betrayal. A friend whom I trusted and respected had betrayed my confidence, turning away when I needed her most. Oh, God, why does it hurt so much?

Just when things seemed to hit bottom a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Oh, God, when will it stop?

I prayed. I pleaded. I read my Bible. But somehow I couldn’t find the face of Jesus anymore. Why couldn’t I hear His voice? God, are You hiding Your face from me?

The pain and fear ate away at my soul, while the sense of separation from my Father hung over me like a cloud. I had never encountered depression before, so I had no idea what it looked like. Before, I always woke up at peace, excited about what God was going to do. Now I just wanted to run away and hide. It felt as if a physical weight had settled on my chest. A boulder-sized rock to accompany the lump in my throat. Would I ever break free?

“I can’t . . . . I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”

I tried everything I knew: praying with my husband and talking faith. Refusing to listen to the enemy’s ever-present whispers—I always knew you were no good. What kind of a Christian are you? You’ll never make it. My brave face fooled everybody. Except me. Two things happened that week, however, that would begin to change the tide; although I didn’t know it at the time. First, a woman asked me to pray for her. Normally I would have jumped at the chance. Now I felt like a failure. Who was I to pray for someone else?

I prayed anyway, taking her hands in mine, speaking the words aloud, even though I couldn’t seem to find Him anymore. At least it was the right thing to do. Perhaps that counted for something.

A few days later our pastor asked me to speak. I usually loved sharing what Jesus has done in my life and the Scriptures He’s used to bring deliverance. But how could I speak when I was still in bondage? I sat and talked with Greg, the only person who knew of my struggle.

Greg took a deep breath. “You should do it, Jilly.”

The lump in my throat suddenly swelled. “You know I can’t. If I were connected with Jesus, of course I’d speak. But I can’t hear Him anymore, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”

“I know,” Greg nodded his head. “But it’s not about how we feel. If God can use Jonah, or a donkey, then we know He’s not dependent upon our ability—or even our connectedness. Don’t let Satan win!”

That day I made a choice. To walk by faith, not by feeling. To speak for Him, to pray to Him, to praise Him whether I felt it or not. And amazingly, as I look back, that was the day He began to set me free!

Jill Morikone is general manager for 3ABN, a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.