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This weeks post is slightly different. This was written by Claire who got in contact with me a few months ago with some ‘burning questions’ about Jesus and the Bible. This is part of her story, it’s a bit longer than our usual but worth reading so check it out:

“Be still and know that I am God”

(Psalm 46:10)

There is a grace to be found in silence. Throughout the major religions silence plays a big part in their relationship with God and it was through such a silence and stillness that I reconnected with God.

I hope to share with you part of my road to acceptance and my journey into Christianity.

In December 2007 I became severely disabled by pain. Although I had a beautiful baby girl, successfully finished my university degree and had a loving fiancé I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome, a long term neurological chronic pain disorder.  What I didn’t know then was that the illness was to open a window through which God would enter.

The silence I experienced was an enforced one.  With me being unable to do very much on my own, I struggled to keep even a simple thought in my head before pain would take up all my strength and energy. My daughter was in nursery, my now husband was at work and I was at home, stuck in bed just trying to make it to the end of each day.  The house was silent. I couldn’t read for pain and my ears couldn’t bare the noise from the television or radio.  There was just me and silence and I resented it, alot.

I felt alone and desperate. I wanted nothing more but the desire for pain relief, so much so that I no longer wanted to live in this life or my body. In my darkest hour I wailed, begged and shouted at God (whom I wasn’t sure I believed even existed).  I was bitterly angry, fearful and resentful.  I needed some hope to go on and I prayed my most emotive and raw prayer begging for a sign that God was indeed real, “I can’t do this alone!!” I screamed, “The pain is just too much, I need to know I’m not alone!”  I let out my anger and rage at ‘God’.

I’m not sure how long I let the tears fall but as most people do I felt a sense of peace after I had ‘let it all out’.  However there was something different this time. I was on my own but I felt as though I was being hugged, spiritually hugged, I felt very much loved and incredibly calm.  It was at this point I was drawn to a book on the shelf outside my then bedroom.  It is hard to explain but I didn’t feel I was independently choosing a book to look at rather I felt I was being guided to one.  I would later conclude that it was the Holy Spirit or my guardian angel, with Gods permission, leading me there. There I picked a book off the shelf and opened it up straight to a page which read in bold underlined writing, “You are not alone”.  Well, my life changed form that moment on.  It was a deeply personal and sacred moment in my life. This was over four years ago but I still recall everything like it was yesterday.  It was the most comforting thing I could have read or been told at that time. I thanked God. I know now that I had made it through ‘the dark night of my soul’.

This dark night had lasted for over three months. This may seem short to some but it’s a lifetime when you’re in pain! Three intense months of physical suffering without relent or relief.  I was bedridden and struggled to do the simplest of things from brushing my hair, to getting myself dressed.  But I know now that it was a fraction of what Jesus went through and I feel deeply thankful, indebted to Him, connected to Him and loved by Him.

Yes my pain and fatigue and sense of loss would continue but it would all get a-little more bearable as time went on and pain medication was finally taking the edge off the worst of it. I would start to adapt to my new life. And little did I know that my relationship with God was going to get deeper. That that moment was just the first tangible experience of God in my life, there would be more.

If I could be healed tomorrow I can’t lie I would jump at the chance.  But not for all the money in the world would I change the past four years of my life. It was in these tumultuous years through silence that God invited me to reconnect with Him and I accepted. It was through the silence of my illness and confinement that Gods grace shone on me and He invited me to know Him deeper.

The scriptures show us time and again the patience God has for us and I strongly feel that if I had of been swallowed up by despair and self wallowing that He would have waited for me for as long as it took.  Patience, forgiveness and compassion these are the graces of our God.

Loved ones who knew me before this illness were and still are somewhat uneasy with my new found passion and thirst for God.  But I had experienced a sea change within myself. The flood gates had been opened and I didn’t want them closing. In –fact it was harder to try and ignore it, it was a curiosity I had to satisfy and acknowledge, an itch I just had to scratch.  It was unbearable not to scratch it and too hard to simply ignore.

My family have secular beliefs, spiritual but not religious they would say.  And that’s ok. I know God wants all of His children in heaven with Him and He can make it so. They were brought up both in the Catholic and Protestant faiths and had less than positive experiences. But I knew I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water as it were. I wanted to know more about this Christianity business.  I trust them to God and trust in God. Sometimes I think my life is meant to be a positive example for them of Christ working in some-ones life.

My life for now, is to be lived and endured worshipfully. It is also to show my family and friends Gods love and my love for my fellow man.  I think I am their first positive experience of Christianity and I hope I can gently replace the negative impressions they have of religious faith and the intolerance that the Church overtime has imparted on our world.

So where does this leave us? Well it is very easy to praise God and have faith in Him when all is well. It is another thing all together to believe in and praise God when we are down on our luck and being kicked.  But I would like you to know that God is there with you willing you on.

My task now is to love God as He loves others and love others as He loves me.

Yes I still have unanswered questions, why am I still in constant pain each day? Can I not have more pain relief?  Through all of this physical pain and stress, day in day out I know God is with me and I know He has a plan. I know that I am right where God needs me to be. I have peace of heart and I hope to share my experiences with others.  I will leave you with this;

“Do not be afraid for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”.

(Isaiah 41:10)

Amen to that!