Friday, February 5, 2016

Words of Faith: Dr. Gray's story

Faith and Faithfulness
A Words of Faith story by Ekwenzi Gray, Ph.D.

A few years ago, one of my cousins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The news was a heart-wrenching game-changer for the family. My cousin has a husband and two adult daughters and she wanted to see them both finish their degrees and get married. But this news seemed like it could derail those plans. The doctors were reserved in their predictions, giving her 4-5 years to live. But without a transplant and other treatment, her chances were slim. And with pancreatic cancer having one of the most serious mortality rates around (the 5 year survival rate is 6%), time was not on our side.

Family member after family member was tested to be a potential donor, but were ruled out again and again, and the years kept on rolling. Year 5 came and then year 6, and we all (my cousin included) felt like she was living on borrowed time. But she never gave up, never stopped living, and her faith held strong. And finally, she was rewarded. In year 6, her goddaughter, who is a girl her daughter's age who happened to be adopted, was identified as a possible donor. It was nothing short of a miracle because the fact that the girl was adopted, meant that she was that much further outside of the genetic pool where a match should have been found. 


Thankfully, she agreed to donate. Both the girl and my cousin survived the transplant and recovered marvelously, inspiring others and strengthening the faith of family, friends, and strangers alike when they hear the story.

Marvelous and miraculous, right? It's a true blessing that lives were saved, hearts have been changed, and the testimony continues to inspire all those that hear it. That's what faith stories are supposed to do. And quite frankly, I don't like them.

Stories like this suggest that faith is only for grand, supernatural gestures and interventions. They are the stories that movies are made of, when most of us live TV-level lives. We don't face life-threatening illnesses but we face the struggles of making it through the day when we're battling the flu. Many of us don't find ourselves facing homelessness but we have bills and mortgages or rent payments and jobs that keep us going day to day and living paycheck to paycheck, feeling like we're one step away from being homeless. And when we, or let me speak for myself, when I hear stories like this, I can't help but think, "That's great for them, but what about me? Does God care about my day to day struggles when He has so many other more serious concerns to address?" Not that I'm wishing my life was harder, not at all. It's just that sometimes, I feel like I'm wasting God's time by coming to Him with concerns that are decidedly smaller.

And yet, that's where faith really becomes important. Faith and faithfulness.

My faith calls me to believe that God cares about me whether my issues are earth-shattering or mildly frustrating. My faith calls for me to believe that God wants what's best for me no matter to what. 
But my faithfulness? That's where things get interesting. 

You see, faith is a belief in something, whether we see it or not. Faithfulness, however, implies action. Faithfulness is what I do to act on my beliefs. Faithfulness is more than just praying for a stronger relationship with God, it's actively praying and studying His Word  (The Holy Bible) and doing my part in developing a relationship with Him. Faithfulness is more than just praying to, say, write a book or record a CD. Faithfulness is sitting down every day, for whatever few minutes I can carve out, and writing or practicing my instrument. It's about doing my part to use the gifts and talents God has blessed me with along with the seed of an idea that I believe He planted in my heart. It's about trying to nurture those things until the time is right for the finished product to be birthed. 

Faithfulness reminds me that everything I do is not for my edification, but for His glory and honor

So, maybe saying that I don't like the large stories of faith is an overstatement. We need those stories to be inspired, to be reminded that our God does great and wonderful things all the time. But we need those small stories too, in order to be reminded that God needs our faithfulness to increase our faith. And He doesn't just want our faith in one situation, He wants it ALL...in all that we do, all the time, and with all our hearts.

Don't just have faith...be faithful.

Read the following Bible verses to encourage your faith:


Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) - "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

~*~
Author bio: 

Dr. Ekwenzi Gray is a Clinical Psychologist, licensed in the District of Columbia. He has been in clinical practice for nearly 10 years, both in private practice which is called 
J.E. Gray and Associates and in working on staff at the Howard University Counseling Services. 

He earned both his Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Howard University. 

While versed in treating a variety of psychological conditions, Dr. Gray has a particular passion for helping clients struggling with issues related to depression and anxiety, spiritual concerns, and anger. He also works with people dealing with issues related to relationships, sexual identity, orientation, and interests. 

Dr. Gray continues to provide psychotherapy to individuals and couples, and conceptualizes client challenges from a cognitive theoretical orientation while using interventions from a variety of models. 

Outside of the office, Dr. Gray enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, and writing among other things. He can be found on Facebook (J. E. Gray and Associates) and on Twitter (@jegrayphd).

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