Friday, November 15, 2013

This Isn’t Your “Willy Wonka-Golden Ticket” Kind of Faith

My faith is personal; it is deeply rooted and strong enough to withstand the horrors of these past 21 months.  I am not a “Name It & Claim It” believer that thinks healing comes only through my BELIEF that Tim will be healed.  Quite frankly, to me, that seems arrogant and self-dependent.  We have personally heard the whisperings that if we believed more, Tim would be healed.  “If only we had more faith.”  I respectfully disagree. 
 
I don’t think God needs my help to perform His miracles. 

Here’s the deal, people; and I don’t want to offend anyone or to get into arguments, but I think if Christians simply had to believe in healing for healing to occur….then everyone would become a Christian simply to get something from God.  Same would be true for wealth and safety or comfort. 

Did God choose to bless some of His children in the Bible through prosperity and healing?  Absolutely. 
Did he heal some as a reward for their faith in His power?  Yes. 

Did He also allow suffering and loss for other children that He equally loved?  He did.    

Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

The train of thought that believing in God somehow makes us immune from trouble leaves us on very shaky ground when trials come our way.  Just as faith in God does not guarantee us a life of ease and luxury; lack of faith in God does not doom others to tumultuous troubles on this earth.  There are extremely successful, healthy, and prosperous unbelievers in this world.  And there are poverty-stricken, believers on their death beds.  While God is perfectly capable of rescuing us from difficult times, He may also choose to allow these challenging times for reasons that are far beyond our comprehension.  There is no doubt in my mind that Satan desires for us to question God’s goodness when we are in the midst of suffering. 
Believers, our faith is not to be based on personal comfort.  As hard as that is to accept, Jesus did not come to this earth, live a sinless life, and then give Himself up on the cross; becoming the gate through which we would pass into the presence of God the Father - so that we could have a comfortable life here. 

He came so that we might have ETERNAL life. 

Person after person in the Bible suffered horribly; persons that God loved dearly.  God’s promises are real.  They are promises for what is to come in heaven.  That is where our future is.  This life is but a blink of the eye when compared to eternity. If Christianity were like God passing out a free golden ticket for a prosperous life inside Willy Wonka chocolate bar wrappers, then everyone would be rushing into a personal relationship with Christ for the sole purpose of getting something from Him to make their lives easier.  The Bible’s promises aren’t that THIS life will be easy.  The promises are that

GOD IS OUR HELPER:
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

GOD WILL HOLD US:
Psalm 63:8 “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

GOD HAS A PLAN:
Psalm 33:11 “His plans endure forever; His purposes last eternally.”

GOD IS WORKING:
Philippians 2:13 “God is always at work in you to make you willing
and able to obey His own purpose.”

If God always rescued every faithful believer who called out to Him, what would be the purpose of faith?  Wouldn’t our naturally greedy, sinful selves be lined up with our chocolate bars and golden tickets in hand signing up for the free “insurance policy” of good times?
My faith is a gift from God and rests in the hope I have in Jesus Christ.  Faith is often proven through trials and is strengthened and increased by Christ.  My belief will not waiver that God is good all the time.  His goodness is not determined by my circumstances.  He does not have to rescue Tim from cancer in order for me to believe that He is working in our lives.  I’d love it if He chose to, but my faith does not depend on it.    

Both Spiritual and physical healing are absolutely guaranteed for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and accepted the free gift of salvation. 

ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED….in eternity. 

And really, when you pause to think about it, wouldn’t we prefer guarantees for forever rather than ones that will expire in the blink of an eye?

 
Let's Chat:
What Scriptures do you lean on during difficult times?  How has God proven Himself faithful to you?  I’d love to hear from the individuals who take the time to read this blog.  God’s Word tells us to “encourage each other daily”, what better way is there to encourage each other than to share His Word and the stories of His faithfulness?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Widow Envy????

I experience the strangest emotions at the most unpredictable moments.  I know I have mentioned this before in relation to the waves of grief that overtake me; but it happens with other emotions as well. 

In conversations with our children, we ponder whether my expectation of the grief that is to come is realistic.  We will certainly each grieve individually and have given each other permission to experience the journey in our own ways.  And that is more than okay, it is necessary.  I still simply cannot imagine a single day void of contact with my Tim; however our children are very wise and one child has shared with me that they aren’t so sure the grieving process will take as long since we have been in a state of constant grief and sorrow for going on 21 months now already.  Possibly, this long, drawn out death is a way for those of us left behind to be as prepared as we possibly can be for the next step.  I hear this and I wonder.  Maybe there is deep truth embedded here.  Or maybe the grief that is to come is so far beyond our comprehension that it will wash over us as a fresh wave…somehow deeper and darker.  We won’t know until we get there, but regardless of how each of us heals…we are guaranteed that the healing of our hearts will come. 

 
"Do not worry, Lori.  I will surely comfort you and will look with compassion on all your ruins; I will make your deserts like Eden, your wastelands like the garden of the Lord. ~Isaiah 51:3"

It doesn’t lessen the sting of loss, but there is such a beautiful hope in knowing where Tim will spend eternity.  There is comfort in this knowledge, and quite frankly we are all (Tim included) in some odd way, ready for Tim to be in the presence of Jesus and free from the suffering involved with this nasty disease.  My brave husband has not tasted anything in over a year.  He has absolutely no swallow; not even his own saliva.  Can you even imagine?  I cannot and I live beside him every day as we administer feedings and hydration through his feeding tube and use surgical tweezers to clean out the thickened dried spit and blood from his throat.  He can feel the tumor ripping through his tissues every single day as its invasive and aggressive fingers spread and grow throughout his head and neck.  He can feel the portion that is invading his mouth and throat as it interferes with his speech.  He aspirates on the blood that seeps from the tumor at night.  His left forearm has been surgically transplanted into his throat to replace the areas that the tumor destroyed.  It is a horrific “sci-fi-ish” existence and the man never complains. 
NEVER!   
I stand in awe of his integrity and strength.  I am humbled by the peace Jesus Christ has delivered to our family members as the end approaches.  Just as the Bible promises, it is beyond our understanding.
I like to read several different devotionals.  One is written by Christian widows.  It helps me prepare for what is to come and also shows me that I am not alone in this journey.  I mean, I know God will never leave me, but I am talking about other women who are walking this same path with dignity and grace.  Showing me what it is to lean so heavily into our Savior that only His love and peace radiate from within.  So imagine my surprise when I found myself experiencing a strange emotion while reading a devotional about a woman who lost her husband while he was out on a run. 

I, myself am a runner; have been for 3 years.  Tim is the one that got me interested in the sport.  He loved to lace up his running shoes and head out for a few miles after a long day at the office.  It was one of “our things”.
New Years Day 5K Race
 2011

My training partner who didn't really want to run this day,
but didn't want his wife out there alone either.  (Love him!)
As I read of this woman cutting part of her husband’s shoelace from his running shoes to bind a locket of his hair as he lay on the ER stretcher, my heart ached for the suddenness of her loss.  Then she wrote of how she kept his running shoes in a box so that she could smell the sweat on them and remember his aroma after his runs. 

And I felt this emotion that was partly anger and partly jealousy!

How was this possible?  What is this emotion?  Am I envious of a widow?  I spiraled into jealousy that she had something to cling to with her lovers scent on it.  You see, I lost the scent of my Tim almost two years ago.  This cancer came on hard and fast and quickly the tumor took over the smell of my sweet Tim.  It breaks my heart to admit that I cannot even remember his scent.  All I smell is the rancid odor of the tumor.  I have no clothing to cling to with the old scent.  I have nothing to tuck away in a drawer for future times and pull out when I just need to smell him.  And this realization made me envious.  Wow!  What a new low to stoop to!  I was so taken aback by my reaction that I instantly confessed this as sin to God and begged for forgiveness.  He replaced my envy with His grace and mercy.  He reminded me that He has chosen to give me and our children; the gift of time to process the grief.  We may be saying a long goodbye, but we are being given the opportunity to say the goodbye; and there are so many others that do not have this luxury.  Clearly He knew I would need to take baby steps into this thing called “widow”. 
So maybe our child is wise beyond their years after all.  Maybe we are already further than knee deep in this process of grieving and the other side is closer than we realize.  Maybe we are swimming neck deep now and will soon be finding sure footing again and begin our ascent out of the murky, dark waters of this valley. 

And then, just as I prepare to post this blog, I read wisdom from a friend on her Facebook page. 

“We want the shortcut, but often God takes us the long way around because He knows better people, stronger people develop over time. Don't despise the wait. He's in it, too.” ~Lisa Whittle

Isn’t God so good to us, all the time?  All the time, he is good!