A conversation yesterday regarding a mother facing a life-limiting diagnosis in pregnancy unlocked emotions laying dormant in my depths for more than a decade. Those words, spewing the barbed accusations of not enough.
If you only have enough faith you will be well. Your babies will be well. Your mother will be well.
If you pray believing, then it will be so.
People are only sick because they don’t pray with faith, believing they will be healed. They have doubt in their hearts.
In one fell swoop, I was back there…on my knees begging God to show me how to pray with faith. Begging God to spare my son. Because if only…if only I could just learn the lesson I failed to learn the first time I stood beside the tiny grave that held my twin daughters Faith and Grace…then I wouldn’t have to stand beside the grave again holding our son Thomas who had been giving the fatal diagnosis of Potter’s Syndrome.
I was desperate to understand what was required of me. Desperate to have enough faith. To pray correctly. To be counted among the righteous. Desperate in my broken. Desperate as only a mother can be. Desperate.
I tore open my bible, laid on my face covered in tears. Drowning in tears. As the storm raged relentless, both outside and within.
Show me. Show me the kind of faith you require. Show me how to have the faith that pleases you. Show me what I failed to learn the first time, that we would be spared this agony. Show me.
And He did.
In Chapter 7 of my book, Sufficient Grace, I cover the faith-wrestlings by delving into His Word:
“Was it enough to believe that God could heal our baby, or were we expected to believe with confidence that He would heal our baby? That seemed a little presumptuous to me. But I wondered about this faith thing. Was my lack of faith the reason for all this agony? If I could just learn the lesson somehow, would we be spared?”
I wanted to understand faith…so I devoured Hebrews chapter 11…known as “the hall of fame of faith.”
I read about how faith is the substance of things hoped for…the evidence of things not seen.
I read about Abraham and David and Rahab and Noah and Moses…all flawed and broken. All full of doubt and unknowing. But still considered faithful. Still considered His.
Most of all, I read about Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Did He skip to the cross…knowing all would be well, without a moment of doubt or hesitation? What did His faith look like? After all, He is our example. Did He ever wrestle with what lay in front of Him?
I read in Hebrews how Jesus endured the cross despising the shame…yet He did it for the joy set before Him. The joy of heaven, of our restoration. Yet, He asked the Father to take this cup from Him…if there was any other way. He asked three times, resisting to the point of sweating great drops of blood. And, yet…He is our example. He didn’t love the idea of the cross before Him. He knew the beginning from the end. And, it still was agony. Was I faithless because I didn’t love the cross in front of me? No. Even Jesus wrestled with the agony of the cross. And, yet…He surrendered to the Father’s will, believing Him…even in the midst of the agony.
In Hebrews, this powerful verse spoke to my tattered heart in those silent months of carrying our Thomas:
…the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:38-40)
They had to believe God without seeing. To believe Him when things didn’t go as planned. To believe Him when He gave a different answer than they hoped. To believe Him when they didn’t see the promise this side of heaven.
What of Job? Job…counted as righteous, pleasing to God…and yet he lost all that he had.
And, what of Jesus’ conversation with Thomas in John 21…
You believe because you see, Thomas…blessed are those who believe without seeing.
I stumbled in my desperate search, still hoping I could unlock the code, even amongst all this evidence that faith wasn’t about me.
Faith isn’t about how well I believe, how certain I am. How strong. Faith is about trusting my God. No matter what. Believing when I don’t see. Sufficient Grace is about knowing that His strength is made perfect through my weakness. It is not about me getting it right or performing well enough. Such nonsense diminishes the power of my God.
Still…I longed for an answer. So when I read the familiar story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, my mama heart lept. Could it be?
This sickness will not end in death. No, it if for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.
Will he save my Thomas? Is that what He is saying?
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
“Yes, Lord…I believe this…and I finally understood. Over the course of a few days, the message sunk in. No matter what the outcome, Thomas will live. God whispered to my heart, whether Thomas lived physically on this earth or whether He was made complete in heaven, He would live. He would live…and his life would be a miracle…no matter what. So…I was expecting new life. New beautiful, amazing life. God whispered His promise in the quiet of my kitchen as my tears dripped on the bible before me.” (pg. 83 Sufficient Grace)
So many people praise God when they see the miracle this side of heaven, the miracle of physical healing. But, God is still good when He chooses to heal by taking a soul home to restore brokenness…by healing a marriage, saving a soul, restoring broken faith, deepening our relationships on earth and with Him.
God is still good and worthy of praise when we don’t get the answers we asked for or when there seems to be no answer at all.
This world is a broken place. Filled with brokenness and suffering. Not because God willed it to be so. He is not a Father up there…shaking His finger…saying “If only you believed enough. If only you sinned less. If only you could figure out some hidden lesson, then you would be healed.”
If you never hear anything I’ve spoken or written…please, please HEAR this…that lie that “if only we had enough faith”…is from the pit. It is NOT from God. If that were so, there would be much less suffering and many would never die. I prayed. Desperate prayers. Elders laid hands on me and prayed. But, God still chose to heal my Thomas by taking him Home. That doesn’t mean I am not His. That doesn’t mean He rejected me. That doesn’t mean I am not “faithful enough.” There is no such thing. There is nothing I could do to earn His love or salvation. To be worthy on my own. I am worthy solely because the blood of Jesus covers me. His love, His grace covers us…carries us. He longs to wipe our tears. To mend our broken places. He waits for us outside of the pit, offering a hand…He sits with us in the pit…until we are ready to take His hand. Nothing separates us from His love. Nothing.
I share much more about our faith journey in my book, Sufficient Grace. Because I just want you to know about His Sufficient Grace, I want to offer it at the special bulk rate for anyone who read this post and would like further encouragement in their own faith-wrestlings. Use the bulk-rate button this week until November 21, 2015 to get the $8 rate.