I’ve received some very compelling questions to the short survey I sent out. It was just four questions, but some of the answers have made me think, and others have broken my heart. If you haven’t taken the survey, you take it here. Your answers will help me shape the bog so that I deliver content that doesn’t matter to me, but to you.
That said, one question that was asked of me directly was, “How do you deal with your disability and have great faith??” Now, I want to avoid a spoiler as I have a book that is essentially done, but I’m sitting on for the moment. It will be called Blessed Brokenness: Seeing God’s Glory in the Ashes of Life. (If you’ve been paying really close attention, the title has changed multiple times, but I think this is a winner.) That book tells the story of how my wife and I have accidentally been an inspiration to many and how I finally found peace as my wife suffered great pain.
But I want to answer the question.
Yesterday afternoon, my wife’s pain was so great that my daughter called an ambulance. We got back to the house at around 3:30 AM. I finally was able to go to bed around 5:00. And I still had to be up before 8:00 to let my wife’s caregiver in. So, after just over two hours of sleep, I’ve been awake for three so far. And I feel compelled to write instead of sleep. I don’t tell you this for pity or how great a hero I am, I tell you this because I am weak. I’m used to going on these adventures by myself but my daughter went along last night and helped, which was a great blessing. But from the moment that it became a question that we might call an ambulance, I was not in a great place. I’ve done this so many times, I’m sick of it. I hate seeing the ambulance in front of my house. I hate sitting in the ER. It’s a time when I am at my weakest in myself.
My disability causes weakness, pain, fatigue, and spilled coffee throughout the house. Yet, I am still the one person that can do certain things for my wife that nobody else can. Because of my natural temperament and my formative years, I can be pretty good at just not noticing or at least being bothered by my own disability. My wife and daughter? Well, that’s another matter entirely.
I guess the best way to explain the solution to this natural problem is this: I’ve learned that I can either be miserable or I can trust God. Being miserable isn’t any fun, so the latter becomes my preferred choice. The hard part for most of us is when God’s solution or at least what we perceive as God’s solution isn’t what we want. I admit it, I want my wife pain-free. I want her paying her piano, I want her cooking. I want to not need caregivers anymore. That’s what I want. God just doesn’t seem to be willing to get with the program.
So, first I have to remember who has what role. He’s God, I’m not! Secondly, if I’m going to trust Him then I need to learn to do that. What I’ve found personally and through the Word, is that I get what I want when I want what He wants instead of trying to change His mind. Job knew that he wasn’t suffering because he had sinned despite the admonitions of his friends. And he refused to curse God and die as his wife suggested. He retained his faith in a just and righteous God, But he felt like God had betrayed him. That is, until God reminded him of his place.
Abraham is recorded as arguing with God and ‘winning.” The difference between Abraham and others (Moses) is that Abraham approached God from who God is. “Far be it for you to _____.” Abraham was saying, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense with who I know you to be.” He wasn’t trying to get God to see it His way, he was arguing God’s nature. In other words, he was asking God to be who He knew him to be.
So, no I didn’t enjoy yesterday through this morning. I don’t care for my eyes not focusing properly or my headache that isn’t going away even after taking migraine medicine. I know these are both likely induced by a lack of sleep. But my wife is sleeping, not crying. We know a little more about how to prevent repeats of yesterday. And most of all, I know we are in God’s hand. I won’t make the mistake that Job did (and I have) of thinking that God is against me or the source of my pain. I won’t think He is betraying me because he hasn’t fixed things the way I want.
It’s too late in this post to tell the whole story, but when my mom was dying, I was angry. She took my hand and said, “God knew. He knew.” At the time I didn’t know what she meant. Now I know that she knew that God knew what was happening and that nobody and nothing could pluck her from His hand (John 10:27-29). Her focus was on the eternal, not on the temporal. I have to let the Spirit help me in my weakness to follow her example. Anger comes easily to the natural, fleshly Matthew. The Spirit must be strong in those moments of weakness.