1.22.2012

A Question of Faith

I recently received an interesting comment.  I actually received it about 2 weeks ago and just didn't know how I wanted to respond to it.  At first I thought I would just ignore it, but it has been weighing heavily on my mind.  And let me preface this by saying I have no idea if I am giving the "right" answer.  I am sure there are Biblical scholars out there that could espouse eloquent and scripturally based commentary for hours on end.  I am neither a Biblical scholar nor an eloquent writer.  So here goes....

The comment: "My only concern with placing everything in God's hands as Ella implies is that if something does not work out as hoped the blame is on God and that is quite a burden to place on a young child. How does your religion handle this? How does a young child ever have trust again in God if something tragic happens and all the trust had been placed in God?"

My response (even now I am stumbling over my words): 

The word that stood out to me most of all was trust.  Although I absolutely teach my children to trust God, and they do, we choose instead to emphasize to our children to have faith in God. 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

We are faithful to our belief that God will heal Lucy.  We are certain that even if her healing were not to be on earth, it would be in heaven.  Faith allows us to believe in a merciful God, a loving God and a forgiving God.  A God who would never for one moment want us to suffer or experience hurt.  But because we live in a fallen world, we are no longer immune to the trials of this life. 

Ella has received Christ as her savior.  In that very moment that she had her salvation experience, God changed her heart forever.  As a person of faith she has been filled with an unexplainable peace that a relationship with God brings.  As much as I hate to say this, it's the only way I know how to sum it up;  Unless you have faith, unless you have experienced true salvation, you will never understand what faith means.  Unless you believe that there is life after our time on earth and unless you trust that God has prepared a place in heaven for you, then you can't understand how another person can walk through fire with grace.

So, what if things don't turn out for Lucy the way we pray they will?  What if we lost another loved one in our lifetime?  What if we suffer loss on many other different levels?  What if?  What if?  We choose not to live in the what if.  We choose to live in the now.  And if the what if happens, we will be renewed through our faith in God.  He will restore our souls.  He will make us new. 

Will we hurt?  Of course we will.  I cant even imagine the hurt we would feel.  When I think about what Justin's family is going through, I literally yell at God for them, beg God on their behalf and cry out for mercy to a God who promises to answer our prayers.  And He will.  When Justin's work on this earth is done, he will go home to his Father.  Until then, we continue to pray.  Because we have FAITH that God is working. 

A child will learn to trust again just like an adult will.  Time, prayer and more time.  The relationship that is made at the time of salvation is the purest relationship one can ever enter.  While a Christian mourns, experiences anger, questions God and searches for meaning in their despair, God will never turn His back. 

Romans 8:38-39 
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I was 8, a little girl that was as close as family passed away in a tragic accident.  I will never claim to know what her family felt and I can say without a doubt that they still mourn the loss of their daughter.  I truly grieve for them now in a way that I could never have were it not for this experience with Lucy.  But as a child, my understanding of her death was much more innocent than it is now.  I remember a close family friend explaining to us that she had passed away and explained that God needed another angel in heaven.  My faith was not shaken as an 8 year old, although I mourned in the way that an 8 year old is capable.  More so, my faith was renewed by the example that was set by the Christian adults in my life.  Those that did not lash out at God.  Those that chose to turn to God in prayer and seek His help in understanding.

I pray that if our family is ever faced with this situation, Erik and I would set an example of Faith for Ella and Jack. 

So, that's my answer.  It might not be a good one, but's its all I have.  My friend Kristie wrote this on her Caring Bridge site and when I read it I was humbled and ashamed of the fear and anguish I have experienced over Justin's situation.  This woman is a mighty example of what it means to be a Christian.  Could you imagine going through this situation without faith and trust in God?  The testimony that Kristie will have will be immeasurable in human terms. 

"Battles are fought and won in many different ways. Just because my child is going to heaven does not mean he lost by any means. If anything, he has gained. " Kristie T.



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46 comments:

  1. This post just really struck me. I know that this is something that I personally have struggled with in my faith. When bad things happen we(I) tend to blame God. When our son died I was so, so angry at God. I didn't know why God would take my son for me. But then a close family friend told me that God didn't take my son, he received him for me. Because God sent his own son to die, my son can live in heaven with him and I know I will see him again someday. I don't know how I would have ever survived something like losing a child without my faith.

    Through our journey I have learned that life isn't fair, bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. Who are we to take good things from God, but not also accept the bad? God allows them to happen because sin is in this world and we will never escape it. When bad things happen, it doesn't change who God is. He is still the same loving, caring, forgiving God that he has always been. We change, but God doesn't. He will never leave us, even when we kick and scream and shake our fists at him.

    And you know what, I can guarantee you if I asked my son if he wanted to come back to earth and live with us his answer would be "NO WAY!" We wait our whole lives to get to heaven, we aren't meant for this earth. While we grieve, he is made whole and perfect! And that gives me comfort.

    Sorry for the rambling, this is just something that I think about often...

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  2. Beautifully written! God is using you and your family in a mighty way.

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  3. Hi Kate,

    You answered this very well.

    Praying for Lucy often!!
    <><

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  4. Wow...thank you Kate. I've struggled with faith and trust in God for quite sometime and reading this has made me think a lot.
    Still praying for peace for Justin and continued strength for his family.

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  5. Awesome answer, Kate!!!! Couldn't agree more!!!!

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  6. Amen! You may not be a seminary graduate but you are very eloquent! The only thing I would add is that our trust in God is not something He earns by providing what we ask. It is trust in His goodness and His plan. Through our faith and knowledge of Who He is... we trust His promises. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfaret and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." So we trust through the difficult times, not in spite of it. I see this trust in every post you write.
    When I was 17, just 6 weeks from highschool graduation, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Praise God, this April will mark 9 years of health. But there were a couple weeks when we didn't know what his future held (nothing like your MONTHS with Lucy). And yet I have never felt such a strong trust in God. It wasn't that I trusted that he would be healed... it was that I trusted in God and His care, providence, and plans for me. Even if I didn't have a dad to see me graduate, or walk me down the aisle one day, God was in control. I would be okay because GOD IS GOOD. It's what I pray for you...
    xoxo
    Alanna (friend of the Fencls)

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  7. You may not be a theologian but you spoke of your faith eloquently and from the heart. I pray many will come to a saving faith from your witness of God's faithfulness and His plan.

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  8. Kate
    What a thought provoking and truly inspiring reply. I have followed Lucy's battle almost daily from across the world and have been so inspired by her and all your family.
    I thank you for the words you have written and whilst my trials are so minor it is the faith you have put into words that keep me going.
    God bless

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  9. Thank you for this. You are truly an example and inspiration for me. As a Christian teenager, it is so wonderful to be able to read your blog because it sets a great example as to what a Christian wife and mother should look like.

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  10. Kate, I often don't comment however this one God said speak. So… first of all you & Erik are doing it all right. We are called to teach our children to love, trust & to have faith in our Awesome God. Ella & Jack will follow your lead.
    As you well remember I lost my dad at 16. Very suddenly, senseless (at the time) and it hurt! I want to tell you that after 18 yrs (almost) I can say "it is well". I said it earlier on but I will say God has used me in a way that not everyone could have been used. He will use our life circumstances to minister to others.
    I want to say my faith was NOT shaken.. faith is a choice... what we do with it is our choice.. God never promised life would be easy but I along with Kate Kristi & all of the others who trust HIM through this life will atest HE is faithful & when we cannot walk another step; he scoups us in His arms and carries us on!
    the word says teach your child, and he/she will not go astray… isnt that our goal to reach heaven

    jeremiah 29:11 He knows the plans He has for you!
    Everyone be blessed!

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  11. It was a great response! Accepting God as your Savior and learning to live through faith in His will, may be a hard concept to grasp for some, but it's not for me.
    Thank you for the blessing that your family has been to me. I(along with a faithful SS class of about 40)are still praying for you all.

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  12. Great response to the reader's comment. When I first read the comment, I gasped a little at "the burden". Bad things happen... to everyone. It is indeed our faith in Christ and our trust that God's plan is better than our plan that allows us to withstand the tragedies of life. Your answer was sensitive, thoughtful, and a great explanation of the peace we can have through our faith. Thanks for sharing this.

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  13. I don't think your answer to this question could have been better. Our trust in God is a KNOWING He always wants what best for us. We don't have to wonder about that or question. We might not always see eye to eye on what our best is at the time, but our God does know. We lost our young (26) dil to cancer 9 years ago. I love to dwell on the fact that she is already there in heaven, waiting for us, that the Lord just wanted her with Him. All of us truly are just passing through. Praying for your sweet daughter...BLESSINGS, Debbie

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  14. oh my goodness..having walked in your shoes and completely understanding what you and your family are going through, I have to say these are the most inspirational and powerful thoughts I have ever read! Thank you, Kate for continuing to show us all what it means to be a devoted follower of God, completely trusting in Him! Still praying for your sweet angel!

    Angel friend

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  15. oh my goodness...having walked in your shoes and completely understanding what you and your family are going through, these are some of the most inspirational and powerful thoughts I have read! Thank you, Kate for continuing to show us all what it means to be a devoted follower of God and trusting in Him totally. Still praying for your sweet angel!

    Ange friend

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  16. This was a great response. I have to admit that I had a similar thought when reading your post about Ella's card to Lucy. Reading your blog and following Lucy's progress is not the same as knowing you or your family personally. I wondered what your answer would be in that situation.

    I am not a Baptist, nor am I the Roman Catholic that I was raised either. I do believe in God and the bible. As the parent of a child with significant medical issues, I've learned to dig deeper into my faith in and love for God. I've learned to pray for two things: 1) That God's will be done and 2) That God will be near to me. If I have the "faith" that you talked about, that He is in control of all things - be it healing, dying, whatever - then I need not pray for more.

    As an author of a public blog, you accept the fact that you are opening up your life's trials to anyone, of any religious understanding and of any place in their human journey. You accept your readers for who they are, where they are. I think you reflected that in your response, very well.

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  17. as with everything that is God and faith related, everyone has their own understanding based on their faith and their beliefs - thank you for sharing a bit of your own faith with us. And Kristie's comment on her site humbled me, may God shine his mercy on her and her family - always.

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  18. Thank you for your post. I was the one who asked the question. I genuinely did not understand because Ella had used the word **trust** and trust is predicated on consistency in behavior and I worry that when trust is broken our world can be turned upside down. I suspect if she had used the word **faith** it would have clicked even though I am not the same religion as you are. I truly appreciate the time you took to answer my question. My background is a doctoral degree in psychology and I am Jewish so I often use a different lens than you so I ask questions.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your honesty.

      Charity
      Atoka, TN

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    2. I'd love to refer you to a wonderful blog that would give you some more insight to what we believe and how our common Savior is there right from the beginning. Start on Jan. 1 and read Iva's posts through the Old Testament. I pray that you will find some understanding there. It has helped me so much in my faith walk. I've learned so much through the first 5 books of the Bible. www.ivamay.blogspot.com
      -Emily "I trust in You. Lord, I trust in You. I believe You're my healer. I believe, You are all I need." -Kari Jobe

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  19. That was beautiful Kate and glorified our God!

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  20. Perfectly said. Faith like a child!

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  21. Absolutely beautiful Kate! You glorified God in the beautiful words what you wrote although I can only imagine how hard them must have been to actually make your fingers type some of them.

    Praying for your family. Praying that your sweet Lucy will know healing here on earth. And if not, praying for the rest of you as you walk by Faith.

    As the mom of a beautiful, precious, wonderful daughter adopted from China, her little 2yo life already knows more loss than I can imagine. Although she does not know it now, someday she will and I pray even now that she will have the Faith to trust God as she learns of her first days and the life God has planned for her afterwards...the life as my precious daughter.

    You taught me a lot today. THANK YOU!!!

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  22. I have been following your blog and praying for Lucy (and all of you) for several months. I just had to let you know that was as close to a perfect answer for that question as I can imagine. Very inspiring.

    When my son was 7, a teacher at his preschool (& friend and coworker of mine) passed away after a long illness. I was crying and visibly upset so he asked me why. I said "I'm sad because I wanted her to get better.". Knowing she was a Christian, he simply replied "But she is better.". A child's simple faith and understanding of God can be enlightening and comforting.

    I will continue to pray for your family.

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  23. Beautiful response---thank you for sharing!

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  24. Bravo Kate. So well written.

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  25. That's a perfect answer and faith is something much easier experienced than it is explained. I continually pray for you and your family :)

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  26. I am surprised by the number of comments that you receive that question your motivations and your actions. I was a bit angry at the commenter when I first read the comment but as you did, I have realized that the person was just curious about your faith (not criticizing you). It is obvious that you took your time and answered the question thoughtfully and with as much grace as anyone could. If we all Christians could approach questions about our faith as you did, we could likely win way more hearts for God.

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  27. I pray your answer speaks to the heart of the person who wrote the comment. I think you answered it beautifully, and I pray for healing for your little Lucy!!!

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  28. Wonderful answer! You have blessed my heart again as you share your thoughts. You have captured the essense of the explanation of faith for believers! Thank you and may God continue to bless you and your family,

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  29. I have always disliked it when people say that a person "lost her battle with cancer." Just like Justin's mother said, it is not losing. I am a doctor, and this evening just finished seeing a young patient with an aggressive cancer. She is also pregnant (I am an obstetrician). She is in the ICU on a ventilator, her cancer is not curable, and she will die soon. Her 22 week baby will die as well. "Losing" is the wrong word, and is really sort of insulting to patients, as well as to God.

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  30. I loved your answer. I cannot fathom the amount of faith that is required to travel this journey. I am so thankful that you allowed God to speak through you. You so very beautifully laid out what trust and faith in Jesus Christ is all about. I have one child and the greatest fear I live with is something happening to her. I am not sure I could survive. Just writing those words strikes fear in my heart. I know you and kristie are walking that path, and reading your words makes me realize that I couldn't survive it. But I can with my God. Please tell Kristie that the quote at the end here literally changed my life! I am praying for your sweet family.

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  31. I appreciate your honesty, Kate. I think that this person was just thinking out loud what we all have struggled with in our lives, we just don't always have the courage to ask those questions. Your answer is real, clear, and sweet.
    Like everyone else, trust is a process for me. I am learning to trust God, even in the midst of really lousy circumstances. I'm at the place where I'm trying to be consistent in prayer and His word. Doing both helps a great deal in allowing me to be ruled by Him and not my feelings. Emotions are healthy, but not when they're our god. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and I know that I can depend on that.
    Charity
    Atoka

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  32. Your answer is perfect.

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  33. I appreciate your honesty, as well as the person's who made the comment. Sometimes I think we get confused about what faith is or looks like, and I'm not sure any of us is the best judge of that. I'm glad God sees each of our hearts and minds.. I take refuge in this, and that He can handle our hearts and our cries to Him. He has always been there for me, as I've given my heart to Him-- good, bad and ugly-- and He shows up in love with the ability to comfort, heal,and even change. I'm glad He's a Person, and it's to Him we can run. He's bigger than all our stumblings.

    I do pray for Lucy and your family...praying with you, glad for your recent good news, and respect your honesty. May God pull you close to Him. Your children are adorable.

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  34. Perfect response.....I pray for Miss Lucy and your family everyday. Last year my 28 year old daughter lost (for lack of better words) her husband of 2 1/2 months...yep 2 1/2 months to a GBM. We had lots of people say why ...are you letting your daughter marry a man with Terminal cancer....why do you,...blah blah blah....it infuriated me when one would ask me such questions...the answer was because of "FAITH". God gave them their relationship so why would I ever question it or GOD"S healing? We wanted healing on this earth but Brian was healed in HEAVEN and I know I'll see him again and Shea will be reunited with her Beloved HUSBAND!!!!! Yes it's hard..yes I hurt...yes Shea hurts...but God gave us a PROMISE that if we have FAITH and BELIEVE we will be reunited! So Your answer was perfect! I pray for HEALING FOR LUCY ON THIS EARTH every day! IT is constant in my heart and mind. I do not know you, but your story touches the depths of my soul! Just someone who cares from Gruver, Texas! GO LUCY GO!!!!!!
    Marsha Lowe

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  35. Hi Kate,
    I appreciate your honesty in responding to the initial comment. Beautiful post. I recently read a book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold Kushner. I had picked the book up at the airport years ago, and only just read it back in late summer, early fall, and it has had a profound effect on me. I decided a long time ago that everyone has their own beliefs and I am not going to be the person to tell them they are right or wrong or argue with them about their faith. It's personal, and I leave it that way. But, something the book spoke to touches on what you have said and I just wanted to put this out there. I was raised Catholic, but am now a practicing Methodist. I believe in a benevolent God, a Kind and loving God that does not want us to suffer, does not want us to hurt or hurt each other, but the God I believe in is not an all powerful God, and is not a God that answers some prayers and not others, that places misfortunes on some, but not others. Prayer for me is a way to center and focus myself so that I can be a better person in God's eyes, and live a truer life, sometimes I fail, but God gives me the grace to try to be a better person.

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  36. Great answer! We have to have faith and trust! As a person who has watched her 28 year of daughter ... Bride of 2 1/2 months grive for her husband who was healed in heaven ... Having faith is how we have survived! Yes it hurts but KNOWiNG Jesus did hear out prayers gets us thought the lonely days! Praying for sweet Lucy go Lucy go!
    Marsha lowe

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  37. Beautiful response...straight from the heart! I learned about Lucy from a 5year old in my sunday school class at church. We have prayer time after our sunday school lesson and I always allow them time for prayer request. Lucy's name was mentioned several times. I participated in last years 5k and look forward to participating this year. Go Lucy go!!

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  38. Yes! I couldn't have said it better myself! Do you care if I post a link to this post on our blog?

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  39. I love your answer. We have never met (probably never will here), but I have prayed for Lucy and your family and will continue to do so.

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  40. Anyone who is a Christian understands exactly what you mean. I pray anyone who isn't a Christian will want to understand. God is the one who grants us the "peace that passes all understanding". My family experienced that when my youngest brother died in a car accident of which I was the driver and at fault. Another person above said she read a book title "When bad things happen to good people". I heard a message about that the very week my brother was killed in that accident. My parents, my church and family and friends all came together in an amazing time of healing and growing in our faith. I found out later many were saved through the death of my brother. We may never fully understand things on this side of Heaven, but God is still on His throne and gives us just what we need when we need it. Thank you for letting the Lord speak through you.

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  41. It has recently been explained to me in this way that I hadn't really thought of before. Our children are not our own. Our children belong to God. He has entrusted them to our care for a certain amount of time. We are immensely blessed by them during the time that God allows them to be in our lives. When He calls them home, He is carrying out the plan that existed before their birth. We are not capable of understanding the way in which this serves His plan, so we do TRUST him. We trust that His will is being done. We also have FAITH that He will help us through it.

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