Annually, around the Christmas season, my husband and I have a tradition of getting together with another couple we see only a few times a year. We’ve known them for some time now, having attended the same church at one time. And although we no longer worship together or even live in the same county, we have been able to maintain the friendship. It’s a great time of catching up and sometimes reminiscing.
This year we talked about the season when my husband was being treated for his cancer. We laughed about his food choices – he could only eat Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee in a can and Boar’s Head roast beef. The conversation turned when my friend said to me, “You were so strong during this time.”
“No, I was a mess.”
“From what you wrote it seemed like you were going through it so well. I kept saying that God must give a certain grace during tough times.”
The truth is that it was a terrible time for me. The uncertainty of not knowing if my husband would live or die. What was the treatment going to be like? Was he going to be able to continue working? How was I going to be able to take care of myself if he did die? What is it like to be a widow at 43?
Most importantly was the age-old question, why did this happen to us? How did God allow this to happen? Is God good?
I confess that often in times of deep crisis in my life, this is the question that plagues me: Is God good?
My first reaction is always: Yes! Absolutely! We all know God is good. It is a major part of his character.
…this question sneaks up from the depths of my mind: If God is good, why are so many bad things happening to me and mine?
During this time of the CANCER, I came upon this passage in Mark 9:14-29.
There was this man with a child who was ill. It sounds like the boy might have had a seizure disorder, but the father named it as demon possession. Regardless, the child needed healing. When the father went to the disciples, they were unable to do anything for the boy. Jesus walks into this situation and asks, ‘what is going on?’ The man tells Jesus of the failure of his disciples in healing the child. As the man speaks to Jesus, he asks Jesus if he could do anything, would he please help his son?
“’If?’ Jesus asks. ‘Anything is possible if you believe.’”
“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
In this one statement, he is admitting his desire and his weakness with all candor and honesty revealing how he really felt.
And in that one statement, this man spoke for me.
I sometimes wonder if that is where God wants us. To get to the place where we know what we want, and can admit our inability to get there on our own. We recognize our need for Jesus.
That’s where God had me. At this point in my life I was strong in my faith, I absolutely knew what I believed. Except that, I didn’t when confronted with crisis. Maybe I didn’t realize how much I needed God. My belief needed to be refined. I needed to be confronted with my areas of unbelief.
I’m certainly not proud of those times when I am stuck in lack of trust and faith, but I no longer deny them or even try to hide them. These places of uncertainty need to be named for what they are and then can be dealt with.
How do I deal with them?
First, I depend on people who are in a place of being convinced of God’s goodness.
Their faith is a balm that soothes my weary soul. This is the necessary part of community.
Then I follow the traditions of the Bible.
Often as you read through the Bible you see various people recount what God has done in the lives of the Children of Israel. Over and over again, the people are told the stories of God’s help and faithfulness to them so they will not forget. Remembering how God has been good to me in the past helps me believe He will be good to me during the current crisis of my life. It is a practice of identifying His faithfulness and unchangeability, which in turn, becomes a reminder of how I can depend on Him.
Finally, self-talk is a consolation that slowly changes my mindset.
Whether I repeat a Bible verse like Mark 9:24 or simply say: God is good. Soon my unbelief melts away. This discipline convinces me again of this truth of God’s character.
Uncertainty is a nasty space to dwell in, but like anything else in our journey of faith, it has its function. But remember, it only becomes purposeful if we do not stay there.
Continue to move through this time and proceed forward.
Jesus did not ostracize the father for his declaration. Instead Jesus healed the boy. We have no further information on the story, but the story lives on in all of us as a reminder of where our help comes from during these times of uncertainty.
Do you have a place of uncertainty? Take heart. God is good, He is with you, and He is able to hear in all honesty about your uncertainties.
When you seek me with your whole heart you will find me ~Jeremiah 29:13 (paraphrase)