April 12, 2013

As Grace's Condition Worsens, I am Reminded that What I Believe About God Matters

We're in the darkest watches of the night.

Grace's heart failure has worsened as of yesterday. The fluid has spread to nearly every organ and even around her brain. This is a pain that heretofore was unfathomable for me to imagine. I've never been so broken and so sorrowful.

My soul waits for the Lord
More than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:6

My heart cries out nearly constantly to the Lord. While we can do nothing but wait on Grace and wait on the next few weeks, our souls wait earnestly for the Lord.

When I was introduced to Matt and Sarah Hammitt's blog from the band, Sanctus Real, who also have a child with a serious heart defect, something he said in one of his posts struck me deeply and has resonated with me since.

After experiencing yet another health crisis with their son and having to head back yet again to the hospital, he wrote that with tears streaming down their faces, he told his wife, "This is why theology matters."

This is why what I believe about God matters.

And it's never more profoundly obvious than in times of deep grief.

I fear that many Christians in our country have a devastatingly flawed understanding of who God is. I'll share a recent example. I noticed a conversation on Facebook in which someone had commented that their child had not seriously injured themselves and someone had responded, "God is good!"

Yes, God is good. But is he only good when things go well? Or the way we want them to? Or the way we think they ought to go?

Jesus himself told Peter that Satan demanded permission to sift him like wheat. But Jesus had prayed for him, that his faith would not fail.

Jesus didn't pray that Peter would not experience it, but rather that his faith would not fail. I fear we've become so oriented to prayers of avoidance that we're woefully ill-equipped and unprepared to handle suffering and testing when it comes. The account of Job is a similar story. Satan demanded permission to try Job, to prove that he would eventually curse God if he suffered enough. And yet, after losing nearly everything of value (his children, livelihood, health, friends, reputation), he said, Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. Another translation says, Yet will I trust in him.

What we believe about God matters.

And what we believe about God is often revealed in times of suffering. If we've had a belief and understanding of God that he is our Wish-granter in the sky, our personal Genie to call upon, someone to manipulate to get our way, then the moment life comes crashing down will leave us reeling and often angry at the image of the god we had created. But it was not the image of the true God described in his Word.

I can truly say, with no pretense, that this experience, every parent's worst nightmare, has deepened our faith and trust in God. I often pray that Satan would not gain one inch of ground in our family and marriage through this. That God would receive all the glory due his Name through this.

I believe with all of my heart and mind that God is sovereign. That he sees the end from the beginning. That his love is unfailing and his kindness is inseparable from who he is. Like I heard today, He is immutably loving. Unchangeably loving.

The apostle Paul, after describing the crushing and afflictions they were experiencing, said this,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
- 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

I do not downplay our pain. These days I weep as easily as I used to laugh. My heart feels crushed. But truly, daily, moment by moment, his grace is sufficient. His power is at work in us, accomplishing in us what we simply could not do on our own.

And at the end of the day, I trust him. I trust the Lord Most High. Creator of everything seen and unseen. The one who has prepared an Eternity that makes the beauty of this world shrivel and pale in comparison.

For from him and to him and through him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

16 comments:

  1. Chills sweep over me as I read this. Your words are haunting and powerful Sara...so beautifully vulnerable and raw. Your faith shakes me to my core. Thank you.

    I pray also that your faith would prevail. Your marriage would be strengthened. Your family closer. None of this is easy and there are no words anyone can really offer to comfort. God alone and as you said, what we believe about Him, is what matters most deeply.

    Baby Grace you are a game changer and world rocker even from the womb! Grateful for you both today.

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    1. I literally wept as I read this. She IS a game-changer and world-rocker. I love her so.

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  2. You write with such wisdom, Sara. Tears stream down my face as I read this, but I take comfort in your faith as we continue to pray...

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    1. Thank you, Jen. I know you know. I love you.

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  3. Oh sweet Sara! I just love you! God is good. And you are a beautiful vessel carrying forth his words. Thank you for being used by God in this way. I am so encouraged by you!

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    1. Angi, you always bring light where it's needed.

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    2. Sara, I wish I knew some magic words to take away your pain, but the only words I know are that God loves you, Matt, and Grace, and that he is with you. Please know that many people are praying with you and for Grace. God Bless you and Matt and give you strength and may you always feel his love and his arms around you when you need him. Denise Hogan

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  4. Sara and Matt,
    Pain like this is so crushing. Praise Him whom we can trust in always. As you said "For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be glory forever, Amen." Amen! May God's strength and peace be with your family at this time. Our prayers are with you, if we can help in any way please let us know. We will choose to place our trust in Him, as He is the Lord. May His mercy and grace be ever present to you.

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  5. Sara, I am so very sorry that this is happening. There are no words that I can say that feel adequate. What you have written here is so similar to the way God has been expanding my understanding of Him and His goodness no matter the circumstances. What a valuable and precious gem it is in the midst of heartache and sorrow. Such beautiful Truth. I pray that in this place of sadness you will still know His joy. As you experience this journey I pray His love for all of you is revealed in a new a beautiful way. I starting reading a book called Beautiful Battlefields by Bo Stern. A woman writes about the very thing you are touching on in the midst of her great battle. Her theology has been expanded. I pray for Jehovah Shalom and Jehovah Rapha to overflow in your life. Thank you for your Truthful thoughts that bring Glory to God in the midst of this season. Bless you!

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  6. sweet Sarah - your vulnerability and shear honesty is so heartfelt and cherished. I pray that God's sovereign strength and presence will overwhelm you and Matt and your children as you all draw closer to Him with each pressing hour.... please know we are all still standing in the gap for the McNutt family. Lots of love and prayers!

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  7. Sara, I thank you for this post. It describes how we should be to a tee. I realized this because I have done the same as a lot of Christians today, only praise Him when life is good. I am praying for you and yours. The greatest faith is loving Him through it all and not questioning His will. I think I could learn a lot from you. You truly show how we as Christians should be.

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  8. Sara, You do not know me, I have followed your blog though my friend Molly. My prayers are with you all. You write beautifully, your blog is only the second one I have felt like I need to follow. Your faith is an inspiration! Again, I am praying for your family at this time! Bless you for sharing your story of faith!!

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  9. Continuing to lift your precious family up in prayer. I am so sorry for what you are enduring.

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  10. You are an inspiration. I've just found your blog through Teresa at Grammy Girlfriend blog and started reading backwards. Powerful....

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