THE MOST DIFFICULT PART FOR ME IN THIS ENTIRE PROCESS came just prior to the first surgery. I mentioned in chapter 1 that it was a kick in the gut to think of my son potentially going blind -- even if in only one eye. I cried bitterly during the several days leading up to that first surgery. I pleaded to God for mercy to be extended to my son. God, please look favorably upon Joshua. Hear the cries of a broken father and mother. Answer quickly! (A discourse on these prayers can be found by clicking here. Reading that will serve as a prologue of sorts.)
Recently, a neighbor of mine asked how our family was faring during this entire process, and I honestly found it difficult to express to him my deep hurt. I was hurting for my son, but I was hurt that God was seemingly ignoring me. I wanted to remain strong, but I also wanted to express my pain. This neighbor is not a follower of Christ, and I wanted to somehow glorify God as I processed the pain. But I couldn't yet muster it. I could sense God was in the process of breaking me down, leading me to a place of complete dependence upon Him, and ultimately being able to glorify Him in the end.
But I honestly couldn't do that yet. In fact, it was just the opposite -- I was losing faith in Him. How could I tell this unbelieving friend and neighbor to have faith in God when my own faith was shaken? How could I offer to pray for or with my co-workers whose children are suffering more so when my own confidence in Almighty God was assaulted?
I expressed this to a good friend of mine one night before a church-league softball game. Doug is an older, well-respected member of the church and the community who is a godly and caring man -- and I trust him completely. I recounted to him my crisis of faith -- If God can, why doesn't He? I know I'm not the first person in the world to ever express this doubt; God is certainly no stranger to it.
I poured out my soul, bruised and battered as it was, to Doug. Did he mock my crisis of faith? Not in the least. In fact, I sensed he was hurting with me. I could see the pain in his eyes as he searched the scriptures hidden in his heart and mind for answers. And all he came up with was, Mike, I don't know. I am so sorry. I knew he was genuine. Ironically enough, he was at the time leading a book study on the very topic of Faith in the believer's life. I had hoped he held a magical answer. But alas! Quite honestly, it was the best counsel I had yet received. Another trusted man added later, We don't know why God does what he does, but you can still trust Him. Job is a case in point. These men were lighthouses of sorts in my stormy world at sea.
I've had conversations with other friends, though, who have suggested, You just need more faith that God will heal him. Or, Stand on the promises of healing. The problem with those suggestions is this: I don't see any scriptural support that God has promised to heal in this life -- even if we have the faith of a mustard seed. Yes, Jesus told his followers that if they simply had the faith of a mustard seed they could say to this or that mountain, 'Be gone', and it will be thrown in the ocean. But, obviously, none of the physical mountains have ever moved by man's spoken word, so He must have meant something entirely different from what we thought it to mean. Instead, mountains are only moved by His spoken word.
I have faith that God CAN heal, but I honestly doubt He WILL heal. Is this lack of faith a sure guarantee that Joshua will never be healed? I doubt it. We witness sick and dying people daily, and God doesn't appear to step in to reverse the natural course of life all that frequently. Part and parcel to the curse in the Fall is our appointment with pain, sickness, and ultimately death.
So is this "faith of a mustard seed" promise referring to what happens when we lay our cares on Him who walks with us, cares for us, hurts with us? Is this about the mystery of what happens in a man's soul when he places all of his cares upon the shoulders of the One who is strong enough to bear them? Is this about complete dependence on Him, on being "poor in spirit"?
The day I did just that was my best day in weeks. Remember when I said I sensed God was breaking me down? Well, I finally arrived at the point where I prayed, OK, God, there's nothing I can do about it. You have determined that it is in Your plan to not heal Joshua's left eye, at least not now anyway. I trust You with the care of his life.
It wasn't that I got to the intersection where I said, There's nothing ELSE I can do, so I guess I'll just trust you. It was simply that there is absolutely NOTHING I can do -- as if all is outside of my span of control in the first place. Nothing was ever in MY hands. When I got there, I was truly set free!
So, if you're reading this and you're faced with dark, ominous clouds looming overhead, have faith! Trust me, I know -- it's much easier said than done. You may be asking,
The questions are all cries from one-and-the-same heart. They are cries of desperation. But they are also the cries of broken people who progressively recognize we fully depend on God not only for daily provision, but for every breath that enters our lungs, for every beat of our heart, and for every step we walk.
You may be wondering how the ends will tie together. The end may not be for us to know, but we can know the One who holds the end in the palm of His hand. When we place our confidence in Jesus Christ, we need not have fear of what the end has in store.