Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

“We’ll have to intubate you,” sounded the clear voice of the pulmonologist during our consultation meeting. I had spent two weeks at the hospital after getting rushed there due to a Covid infection that dropped my oxygen saturation to near-dangerous levels. To complicate matters, I was also having an asthma attack and developed pneumonia in both lungs. But after two weeks the doctors were able to control my situation and hopes were high that I would soon be going home.

hospital beds

Then the storm broke. I suddenly had difficulty breathing again and after some tests it was revealed that I had developed another case of pneumonia – bacterial pneumonia in this instance. That was the time my pulmonologist decided to intubate me. Instinctively I knew this was serious. I have read far too many stories of Covid patients getting intubated at a critical juncture during their struggle with the disease before finally succumbing. I had been praying the whole time but in this instance I was literally on my knees, asking the Lord to get me through this latest crisis.

Jesus at the home of Jairus
Jesus at the home of Jairus, an official from the local synagogue, whose daughter became sick and later died. Image courtesy of Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

But Jesus overheard their conversation and said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” – Mark 5:36

My Covid journey was and is a journey of faith, of belief in God, in His power and in His goodness. My struggle was really more of a struggle with myself, whether I would trust in God or be intimidated by my circumstances. I am thankful that the Lord brought me to the point of helplessness, when the only thing left that I could really do was to believe in Him. And when you learn to really trust in Him, nothing is impossible (Mark 11:22-24).

I would be sedated for 6 days right after my intubation but somehow a wave of calmness prevailed over me once I had entrusted my situation to the Lord. But worse was actually to follow. Eventually my lungs would collapse 4 times (pneumothorax) requiring a risky video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). I had multiple organ failure and had to undergo dialysis a few times, my sugar level kept fluctuating and increasing to higher than safe levels and I had bed sores that morphed into huge wounds and which required debridement more than once. My body was so riddled by tube and syringe marks from blood tests and intravenous injections that nurses had difficulty locating veins for the next IV injection. I had to be sedated for 20 more days and even fell into a coma which a sister-doctor said few people ever came out of alive.

No, faith doesn’t necessarily mean our situation would immediately improve or turn out the way we wanted to. In my case it grew worse after that initial intubation and sedation. But faith does ensure that God will be with us every step of the way, providing encouragement, strength and direction when we think we are at the end of our tether. I always had this well-known verse from Psalms 23 running through my mind throughout my ordeal: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Some friends and doctors said I was a courageous guy, a real fighter because it seemed I could survive anything that the virus threw at me. However, the truth is a bit different. Ordinarily I would give up when overwhelmed by circumstances less tougher. There was a time when pain was racking my whole body and I told Nina that I couldn’t take it anymore and just wanted to take my life (for which I got a quick rebuke from Nina – the value of having a godly wife by your side). Was my faith in God too little?

Jesus in the boat with His disciples calming a storm at the Sea of Galilee. Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0.

When Jesus told His disciples how little their faith was, they asked Him to increase their faith. Jesus replied that faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains (a Jewish expression at that time for huge obstacles). Wayne Jacobsen remarked that having ‘little faith” is not a measurement of quantity as much as it is misdirected faith. If our faith is in the tangibles of time and space, in things that we can see rather than in the Father’s love and care for us, fear and discouragement will overwhelm us. Trusting Him means putting more faith in what we cannot see than in what we can see (Hebrews 11:1). Normally we are content when everything is working the way we want them to. But when a crisis hits our misdirected faith is unmasked. This is what the Covid crisis did. It brought me to the end of myself so that I would learn to trust in the Father alone. Faith is “little” when it is based on something so little as ourselves or our circumstances.

Our life journey is a journey of faith, of learning to trust in God regardless of what we see going on around us. We won’t know how He would deal with our circumstances – and neither should we dictate to Him how – but we can rest in His love and care for us. And in the midst of a very difficult crisis I was astonished by what He did.

By Leo Castillo

6 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

  1. Your story gave me hope when I was dealing with my husband’s situation. Little did I know that it will truly test my faith in God. Then, as in now, all I can do is to put complete faith in God, that whatever He does is truly for the good. Thank you, Kuya Leo and Ate Nina for being with me in my own journey of faith in God in the midst of uncertainty.

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  2. This is truly inspiring Kuya Leo and Nina. Thank you for sharing stories of hope and victory in the Lord Jesus. I know there will be more coming up to show the world that God is the Great Overcomer. To God be the glory!

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