The other day, I was at an event for one of the kids, when a mom who I’ve just recently met came to talk to me. As we spoke I realized she has a lot of fears surrounding her kids being in public school. They were homeschooled until this year and the new freedom and exposure of her kids to outside influences has been hard. I empathized. I don’t think any of us, regardless of our beliefs, are worry free about what our kids are seeing, hearing and having to deal with in the schools these days. Wanting to encourage her, I shared some of our families story surrounding my brain injury and also my son James’s struggle with bipolar disorder. I talked a lot about God’s faithfulness and because of it, we can have peace even when things are hard. I thought sharing would help, but somehow it launched us into a totally different stratosphere — one that I really didn’t want to be in.
Shaking her head she said, “We’ve got to get you to our house so we can pray for you and James.”. Before I could really blink or even process what was going on she again and again threw out verses – some in context of the scriptures and some out if context – about healing, power and faith. I listened for a while but then pushed back just a little and tried to explain the folly of the perspective that one’s faith alone can determine whether someone is healed. Gently I suggested such a point of view can lead to very dangerous disappointment and even disillusionment with God.
She however stood strong in her point of view. God desires for all to be healed. End. Of. Story. If we aren’t healed, we don’t have the faith to receive that healing. End. Of. Story.
On one hand I agree with her. Of course God desires for us all to be whole and well. He is indeed absolute love and love does not delight in someone’s pain. On the other hand though, there are examples in the scriptures of where Jesus himself did not intervene and heal. Consider John the Baptist. He was beheaded — and Jesus wept over the loss of him — he did not heal and restore his life. I could give other examples but I’m sure you get my point.
If I’ve learned anything through my own physical struggles as well as the struggles my son James endures it is this. Trusting in the Lord in the midst of your circumstances, without demand that he change the story to fit your own needs, is the most peaceful place any of us can be.
Now don’t misread that. Of course we’ve prayed that James’ burden of bipolar would be lifted and my continued struggle with the left overs from my stroke and brain injury healed. However, the Lord has instead chosen to give us his grace to walk the road before us with the peace that transcends all understanding. Do I questions God’s love for us because he hasn’t fully restored my mind and also because James struggles so much? Honestly, there have been times I have. And yet, I always come back to the same place. God doesn’t promise we won’t suffer or experience pain. He does however promise he will give us the ability to walk through it with his help. So, I walk through the hard days clinging to him and on the good days, I am thankful for his presence during these enduring storms.
I have no doubt my new friend has a passion that she just wants to share. I do pray however she comes to a place where she understands her point of view actually serves the roll of diminishing the wonderful breakthroughs God has brought us. It is because I have suffered, that I now have a passion for reaching those who are overlooked and misunderstood. It is because I have wept that I have more compassion for the needy and understand the hopeless. My experiences have brought these things out in me — when they were never on my radar before. In addition, because we love James, we now deeply care about others struggling with mental illness. We see how God using James’ life to shine a light out to the world to remove the shame and sigma that surrounds it and instead is replacing it with His love, light and hope. That is beauty coming from ashes!
I believe God does heal and it brings him great glory. I also believe, when he allows us to tarry in the place that we wouldn’t always choose, and we find him there his peace abounds, his hope endures and hearts are shaped and changed.