Praise You In This Storm | Anchors Aweigh

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Praise You In This Storm

I have alluded to the fact that this hasn't been the easiest year for my family in a few different blog posts, but I haven't really gone into any more detail than that. Honestly, I didn't know how to write about what was happening or even if it was my place to say. The past four months have been the most challenging, faith-testing of our lives, and I feel like it's time to share. With my little sister's permission, here is the story.
 
It's Christmas of 2013, and life is perfect. Our family is healthy, happy, and together. We are laughing and hugging without a care in the world. That was the last time for the foreseeable future that life would be so perfect, so easy and care-free. I have three sisters: a twin, a younger sister, and a youngest sister. My youngest sister is Faith, and she is 18 years old and a freshman in college. In December, she began seeing spots in one of her eyes. She described it as the spots you see when you stare into the sun and then go back inside, except what she was seeing was all the time. She went to the eye doctor in January who then sent her higher up the chain to a more advanced doctor. He suspected there was something more behind the spots she was seeing, and he was right. They suspected a slew of different causes, Lupus and MS being two strong contenders. We were all so scared.
 
The tests came back, and she was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a rare auto-immune disease. Honestly, this seemed like fairly good news considering what it could have been. They put her on a steroid drip to take care of the vision issues, and it was something that could be controlled with medicine. She was given meds and went to college the following week to start her spring semester. Everything was going to be okay. 

February 2nd, 2014, everything came crashing down. I got a call from my dad that Faith's vision was completely gone in her right eye, the same eye she was seeing the spots. She came home and was checked into the hospital where she would be escalated to specialized doctor after specialized doctor. Countless vials of blood were taken, and every test the doctors knew to run was done. They came up with nothing. All we knew was that Faith had lost vision in her right eye, but nobody could seem to tell us why. These were some of the top doctors in the world. 

We prayed so fervently through this entire process that God would restore her vision, that He would erase the damage that was done and heal her of whatever had attacked her body. I would be lying if I said I didn't begin to lose hope. The doctors hadn't given us anything to hold on to. They didn't think her vision was ever going to come back, and they couldn't tell if the left eye was going to be in danger or not. I had trouble seeing God in this situation. We needed Him- where was He? I think I cried almost every time I spoke with one of my family members, and so did they. Do you know the one person who never seemed to break? The one person who remained confident that God would heal her? Faith. We were scared to death for her, yet she was referencing scripture and telling us all not to be scared, that God had a plan. Wow. 

She spent days at a time in the hospital and was at a different doctor's appointment every week, and the doctors still didn't know what was going on. They did diagnose her once, but they took the diagnosis back hours later. I don't think we will ever truly know what happened, and that is scary. Essentially, an enemy (we believe a virus) came in, did its damage, and left. Sarcoidosis was probably a misdiagnosis from the start. Can you imagine being completely healthy, all of a sudden losing vision in one eye, being told the doctors don't know why it happened, and then being sent back into the world to live life as normally as you can? I can't, but that's what happened to Faith.
 
We had all accepted that the right eye may never come back, but what about the left eye? Living with one eye is an adjustment, to say the least, but Faith can still live out her dreams. Losing both eyes would change her life forever. As you can imagine, Faith was scared. She had remained so faithful through it all, so confident that God had her, but the reality of her situation couldn't be ignored. We all continued to pray for a miracle and for protection of the left eye. One night in the middle of the night, Faith cried out to God in her most vulnerable state. She was so scared she would lose her left eye and be completely blind. She prayed and cried and prayed to the God who has been with her from the beginning, and God answered. In that moment, she saw an image of God covering her left eye. He is protecting it. He is protecting her. 

I can't believe that all of this has happened. I honestly can't. There is a saying that "God doesn't give you any more than you can handle", and I have been guilty of saying that before. I mean He never had, so I believed it. That saying is a lie. You won't find it in the Bible anywhere. The fact is, God did give us more than we could handle. He absolutely did. This has been both the most faith-testing and faith-affirming experience of my life. God rocked our world, we never saw it coming, and our faith in Him is stronger for it.

Our family of 8 was reunited last weekend for the Casting Crowns concert, and it was a beautiful time of praise and worship as a family. I watched as Faith lifted her hands to praise the God that gives and takes away and was reduced to tears. I don't think there was a dry eye among us when we sang "Praise You In This Storm". We went through the biggest storm of our lives, but God never left our side. He was present and holding onto us every time we let go. I don't know why God lets bad things happen. I never will, but I do know that God doesn't abandon us when they do. He carries us, loves us, and sees us through to the other side. God is good, friends. He is good all the time.
 
I look at my 18 year old baby sister and am in awe of her faith. It was no accident she was named "Faith", and I could write a whole other post on the miracle of her birth story to back this up. God has been dreaming big plans for her from the beginning. She may only have vision in one eye, but she sees more clearly than anyone I have ever known.


"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."- Romans 8:28



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32 comments :

Charity said...

Oh Chelsea! I am so sorry to hear about what has happened to your sweet sister Faith. I know how hard it is not having answers just not knowing why. Something that helps me in the midst of the storm is remembering we live in a sinful world. Each thing in our world is either God arranged or God allowed. We don't know why God allowed this to happen to Faith, but by faith I am believing his glory will shine brightly and she will be redeemed. I also have to say that you are right that saying sucks. God does give us more than we can handle so we can depend solely on him. His power is made perfect in our weakness. I am praying for your sweet sister and your family. xo

Finley S said...

Wow what a powerful post and thank you for sharing what must and still is a hard time for you all.
You must be one super proud older sister!

Karla FNW said...

And just like that, I'm in tears. Chelsea, you are an incredible writer. You have a gift in your writing. And your sister, wow. No words. Her strength is admirable. I think you are right, she was named Faith for a reason. What a beautiful story of courage and Faith. =)

Kourtney Martin said...

Wow! Faith especially, but you all are such a testament to how we should all trust 100% percent completely in God, for he has a plan for our lives. I'll pray for your sister, and remember her story as a lesson in faith. And I'm sure you've heard this 100 times, but she looks like she could be a triplet to you guys!

Brianna said...

Your entire family is a testament to God's wonder. I'm so glad your baby sister allowed you to share her story on your blog. I can't even begin to imagine what these past few months have been like for your family, but the positivity and faith of your family just jumps off the screen! Faith and your entire family is in my prayers. It's so amazing how the person going through something so tragic turns out to be the strongest and most faith-driven. Faith, for sure, was no accident. God is good!

xoxo,
Brianna

www.xobriannaleigh.com

Alex said...

Chelsea, this is a beautiful post. I'll add Faith to my prayers list. I honestly couldn't even imagine going through this. But, God works in mysterious ways. Also, Faith is absolutely gorgeous :)

- Alex @ Radiating Sunshine
alexmhons.blogspot.com

Eights on the Move said...

Oh my goodness, you must have SUCH a strong family to get through these trying times. Your sister is absolutely stunning & I will keep her in my thoughts.
All the best!

Karen Ward said...

Oh wow - I clicked over here from Leslie's blog and I'm blown away by your sister's testimony, just like I was by the girl who's story Leslie linked to yesterday. I believe wholeheartedly that God will protect your sister's left eye so that she will be another shining example of faith in this world. And, I don't believe her name is a coincidence! Thank you for sharing!

Patty said...

Wow, what a testament to the strong convictions and hope your dear sister has! I have no doubt her struggles and story can be used to touch others lives...thanks for sharing & keeping your family, especially Faith in my prayers!

Caroline said...

Love that song. We too have been in the deep deep deep trials. Trusting Him that He is faithful!

Krystal R. said...

Beautiful post. I needed it. Trust me I can relate more than I can explain!

Hana R said...

I cried through this entire post. I think we can all take something from it. I'm sharing this on my Fb page!

Diane @ DD Kimball Road said...

Chelsea,

God gives us what he knows we can handle.....we may lose the faith that we can handle things mid-way through the process but understanding that there will be an end in sight of all rough times is what we always need to remember. Tough times come in groups, I know this from experience.....losing my father, then a miscarriage, and various tiny things over the course of two years time. We just need to have the support of our loved ones and the faith that something good will eventually come from it all.

Your sister is a beauty, I mean look at that photo! She is beautiful because of her spirit, devotion and unwavering character. Please tell her that all your readers support and pray for her everyday, and I hope that her eyesight returns to her. <3 Diane

~*Night Owl*~ said...

She is definitely beautiful and looks like nothing stops her. No wonder she is named Faith. She has a high faith and strength and trust in our Lord.

Casting Crowns along with the good Lord can definitely get you thru many things. And I cried when I heard that song too and did exactly what Faith did. It's amazing and a powerful song.

God may not give us more than we can handle but he does know what we can and can't handle. And with that we are truly blessed to have him in our lives.

She's going thru something that we take advantage of times. I can't even imagine what she's going thru. I'd in a way be mad but its good that she's keeping her spirits lifted and looking to scripture and to the Lord for answers. What an amazing way to be. Wish I could be like that in everything that goes on.

Best wishes to her and the rest of the family. Stick together and pray and you all will make it.

http://nightowlventing02.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-blog-as-mix-tape.html

Emily Stewart said...

Such beautiful words, friend! And I'm tearing up at my desk so that's fun. You and your family's faith (and Faith) is so strong and she is so lucky to have the Lord and her family as her rock. The Benner family is amazing. As always, you are all in my prayers and I miss you so much! Giving you the biggest hug of all time right now! :) xoxo

Laura {happily ever} Parker said...

Oh my goodness how scary! Hopefully a miracle for her is still on the horizon.

Cassie Lee @ Sage the Blog said...

Wow, what a terrifying thing to go through, but what a STRONG young woman to remain faithful to God's plans through it. Praying for your family!

Melissa said...

What an amazing, heartbreaking, powerful story your sister has, Chelsea. She sounds like such a faithful and Godly young lady, and I'm sure He has the best of plans for her. Wishing you and yours love and prayers!

Stephanie said...

Such an impacting story and family! Sometimes we may never know why God puts things in our lives. One thing for sure, from an outsiders view, is that it was an opportunity for each of you to grow together and with God. I am sure that your family is even stronger than it was before. Regardless of what happens with the sight, God has many plans fore each of you!

PatB said...

Chelsea, I cried as I read your blog, as I have many times, along with Grandpa Harley, as we have followed this journey. Faith's faith has been an inspiration to us and the support she has received from all of her sisters and parents is incredible. God never answers us when we ask "why" but he lifts us up and carries us when needed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and in such a beautiful way.m Lots of love, Grandma Pat & Grandpa Har.

Nicole F said...

I love that song. I love that you find comfort in it and see its relevance in this particular situation. Bless your sister for the faith she continues to have. It really is inspiring!

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Kate at Green Fashionista said...

I'm so sorry hun! I had no idea that you and your family were going through such a hard time, but what an amazing story. Your sister's faith and courage are such a testimony.

Ember Grey. said...

What a powerful post. Your sweet sister is blessed to have you as a sister too! God is Faithful :)

Janelle Vannice said...

Wow, what a powerful testimony to your sister! She will be in my thoughts/prayers, but it sounds like she's going to be just fine no matter what! She is lucky to have such a caring older sister. :)

Bailey @ Becoming Bailey said...

This blog post was beautifully written. Please tell Faith that I am so glad she is brave enough to share her story with us, because it's a testament to God's faithfulness. As I was reading, I was thinking of John 9:3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." It's so amazing to see how God is working in her life. Your family will continue to be in my prayers!

LIKE AN ARROW said...

Oh my... I'm praying for her & your family! <3

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

This is truly, truly moving. What a testament to her character. You and your family are in my prayers!

Cheri @ Overactive Blogger said...

Wow! I love this post. Your sister is a beautiful girl. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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