The sudden, severe onset of rheumatoid arthritis put me in a wheelchair only four months after the day I had felt the first pain. Well-meaning friends often advised me to "have faith".
When I asked for clarification I most often found that the speaker had no idea what faith is or how to get it. Those who offered an explanation usually saw it as some version of a child's birthday wish: If I think of more pleasant things, someone else will magically fix my problem for me. That silly view of faith is irresponsible; it's a form of denial.
The only path to faith is to work through a problem, not escape around it nor ignore it.
Faith is not the belief that things will turn out the way we want. That's Hope. Faith is the belief that though we face a challenge that is worse than anything we've ever gone through before, we can grow enough to become the person who can handle this.
Let's take a real-life example. I had a friend who bought a home that was much more expensive than she could afford. When I expressed concern, she smiled broadly and said, "Don't worry. I have faith that God will provide the money to pay for it." Now, I'm all for positive thinking, but I would not advise borrowing money to buy a home you know you can't afford and then trying to manipulate God into providing the funds.
Hoping the money will miraculously show up is HOPE. Expecting the money to show up is HOPE. Believing the money will show up is HOPE. Anything that involves a resolution to this situation that is easy and painless is HOPE. Anything that demands the matter be resolved in a specific way, i.e., that the money for the house becomes available, is HOPE. A lot of people mistake these mental manueverings for faith, but they are not faith. They are HOPE.
FAITH on the other hand, is the belief that the situation will resolve itself somehow and that good will come of it. True faith does not demand that the situation resolve itself in a specific manner. FAITH is the belief that the situation will resolve itself in the best way possible (not the easiest way, but the way that is in the long-term best interests of those involved).
So, if God knows that the best thing for you to learn is that miracles happen, perhaps the money will show up in some miraculous way.
Maybe God knows you need to learn to take more risks in life. Maybe you will discover that you could afford the house all along but your fear convinced you it was too expensive.
If God knows that the best thing for you to learn is to manage your money, perhaps the bank will foreclose on your home when you don't pay and the bankruptcy judge will order you to take the money management course you have been avoiding for years.
If God knows you would find purpose in creating a program for people to recover from bankruptcy, perhaps it will be made painfully obvious to you that there are no effective resources in your town for people who have just lost everything, motivating you to action.
Perhaps you will have to find temporary shelter in the homes of friends and family; and in doing so you will experience the difference between help that is given out of love and help that is given out of a sense of superiority, making you a more loving "giver" for as long as you live.
A person of FAITH sees that each and every one of these solutions as good as any other.
The only way to learn and grow is to face difficulty that is greater than we have known before. To increase our faith beyond it's current level, the difficulty must be far outside our comfort zone and will probably be more than we feel we can bear. The only way we can get through it is to expand our capacity for love, compassion, empathy, wisdom, and/or understanding. Through this expansion, we become a person who can handle the problem, then we handle it.
Have you ever prayed for more faith? Have you ever asked God to increase your faith? If so, perhaps your current illness or disability is God's answer to that prayer. Perhaps you are learning how strong you are, perhaps you are growing into a more expanded version of yourself through this experience. The important thing to remember is that your illness or disability is not a punishment. It is a chance to grow, to expand who you are.
Why am I including this detailed explanation in a blog about dealing with disabilities? Why is it so important? Because there is an erroneous perception that if we "have faith" we will be healed. Under this misperception, the fact that we are ill or disabled can be interpreted as proof that we do not have "enough faith". That perception is absolutely false, and can only discourage.
Faith does not involve a demand that any problem be resolved in a specific way; "healing" would be a demand for a specific resolution. A person of faith would believe that their highest good is being served whether they are healthy, ill, or disabled. Each of those three resolutions would lead you to different experiences with different people who present different opportunities. Each of those three experiences is as good as the other, and whichever one you are experiencing is the best experience for you at this time.
Look for the good that is being given to you in this experience.
Many people turn to the 23rd Psalm to support their faith. My own translation of the 23rd Psalm is below.
Creative energy flows from Him to me continually, provided as a resource for me to manifest the spiritual growth and learning experiences that my soul desires. Intuition provides guidance and direction toward the path of learning that is the easiest, from a human perspective.
Even when walking through the dark night of the soul, when I have chosen fear and so no longer feel cared for or provided for, I can be certain He has not left me. I will not become truly hopeless because I trust God is with me. In spite of the fears I have, I keep coming back to God. He keeps working things out for good in the face of my fear and what I have created through my fear-based behavior. The evidence of God in all things provides comfort to me.
I will not always be in physical, earth-bound form. I don't know how many other forms exist, but the eternal constant is the divine energy substance of God that will always be within and without me. I know I have God's love and blessing.