We are so thankful that our niece, Shylah, is finally HOME from the hospital! We are praising God for a tumor that is shrinking and for a family that is together again at last. Our thoughts continue to be consumed with prayers for her healing. Prayers that God would sustain her precious mom and dad. Prayers that they would continue to cling to hope. Prayers that their faith would be inexplicably strengthened through this time, not weakened.
Back when Shylah was still in the hospital and things were very uncertain, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law (Shylah’s dad) where we talked about cancer and its effects on faith and hope, family and marriage, finances and compassion. (You know, just a few light topics.) He has wrestled with comparing his faith to that of others who have walked a similar path – the unspeakable one where your child’s very life is hanging in the balance – and feeling that his faith is weak. Understandably, he’s reeling. He’s full of questions, fears, doubts. Any parent in his shoes would be. Yet each time he posts an update, he includes an amazing Scripture. Each time he communicates with the hundreds who are praying and cheering for Shylah, he includes both prayer requests and things he is thankful for. He is constantly choosing to press in to God’s Word and to labor in prayer. He is looking, searching, clinging, to Hope as if his very life depends on it.
This, my friends, is raw faith. Faith only becomes real once it’s tested. It’s pretty easy to have faith when the sun is shining and everything’s hearts and flowers and rainbows. It’s another thing entirely when the bottom has dropped out of your world. When everything you thought you believed is suddenly rocked to its very core. When the inevitable questions come bubbling to the surface…”Why did you allow this, God? Are you really good? How do I reconcile a good God with this evil cancer? Where do I find hope in this situation?” Faith is about clinging for dear life to the promises in God’s Word, and never letting go, even when all signs seem to point to despair. Faith is about holding on, no matter what, to the goodness of God.
It occurred to me while we talked that faith is not the absence of doubts or fears, grief or questions. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel these things. Faith is in spite of the doubts and fears, the grief and the questions. They exist side by side. Faith is about searching for Hope and choosing to find it. It’s about believing God is who He says he is…good and faithful, with compassion that never fails and love that endures forever. That He has a heart for children and a heart for those who are hurting. That he is the ultimate Healer. That he is capable of lifting our burdens and replacing them with a peace that passes all understanding. It’s about believing that his great love will be big enough for me. It’s about choosing to stake my life on these truths even when my emotions don’t feel it.
Faith, hope and love. They are life preservers when you feel dark waters closing in. They don’t make everything automatically go away or be wrapped in a neater package. Rather, they help you cling to your Lifeline when disaster strikes.
Don’t. Let. Go.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – I Corithians 13:13
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalms 100:5
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. – Lamentations 3:22
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – I Peter 5:10
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
*If you don’t have a faith like this, but want to know more, please email me. I’d love to talk. What are your thoughts? Do you believe in a good God? What do you cling to when the unthinkable happens and your world falls apart?