Forgive my unbelief…

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

I wonder if the father in this passage felt the same way that I so often do – so desperately wanting his child to be made whole again, knowing that Jesus can do it, but afraid to be hopeful.

Afraid.

More often than not, my prayer is that of the father in this account: I believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!

I waver between knowing without a doubt that God can heal her here on earth and yet doubting that He will. 

I have discovered that I am afraid to be hopeful, despite our experiences in the past few days and with how God seems to be working.

I am still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fear, but I think it comes down to a fear of being disappointed in the outcome, a fear of being disappointed in God – whom I love and trust implicitly – if He takes her home to Heaven instead of allowing us to keep her, even though I do trust His plan and do not doubt that His plan is best for all of us.

I think fear is to blame. 

Fear is easy; hope is excruciating.

What we are going through is completely unnatural. Parents aren’t supposed to lose their children. As someone who doesn’t even know how it feels to lose a grandparent yet (yes, I am blessed to still have all four!), the thought of losing my only child is incomprehensible. 

I wonder if my fear of being hopeful is a defense mechanism.

I am afraid to hope that God will choose to heal Tori here on earth, despite the fact that every fiber of my being desperately wants that to be the outcome.

Hope is hard. Hope is vulnerable. It seems irrational in a situation like this.

Fear is comfortable, expected, the rational response.

And yet, I remind myself that we serve the same God who healed/heals the sick and who raised people from the dead! Jesus Himself was resurrected after being in the tomb for three days! 

Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing!

Jesus repeatedly told His disciples to not be afraid, and that nothing is impossible for God. That is what I force myself to remember daily – it isn’t impossible for Tori to be healed! 

The struggle continues, and I pray that I can overcome the fear of being hopeful because I know that God is love, He is good, and His plan is best. 

I don’t know if Jesus meant belief in Him or absolute belief that healing would happen; but I do know that He loves Brennan, Tori, and me. And whatever He has planned will be okay in the end.

9 thoughts on “Forgive my unbelief…

  1. You are doing exactly what He wants you to do and that is believe in Him and trust His plan. He understands your fears He just wants you to trust. Continuing to pray for your sweet family and for Tori’s healing hopefully here on earth.

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  2. You are speaking wise words! It is so hard to trust God with our most precious bundles, our kids! Especially when facing such a hard thing as you are! Praying for you to be able to let go your fears and feel the peace that she is in God’s hands and that He loves you ALL so VERY MUCH!!

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  3. As I read this to David (my CS Lewis Institute involved husband), he was of course touched by the situation, but also said, “That is very well-written.” He didn’t mean that from an English grammar perspective (though it passed that well), but he was referring to how well you captured the tension believers have in believing in a God who is full of possibilities, while living in a world in which rational realities seek to rule.

    I know that in one particular case with me where I would always answer that I wanted “Whatever God wants” that I finally felt Holy Spirit revealed to me that I didn’t want to answer what I really wanted in case I got disappointed. I really did think I wanted whatever God wanted, but He wanted me to know myself better and understand what I desired. That can indeed be a scary place as then not only might I not get what I want, but then I can fear my image of God could be marred.

    Hope is a painful place to sit, because it requires we be more fully alive to both pain and joy. And I can say as a much older person than you with a few disappointments under my belt, that even in those times I was ‘disappointed’ in God due to His answer being different than what I wanted, I have still felt His loving embrace and was more alive and connected/intimate with Him than when I just took the fear/doubt road. Admittedly, “Alive” sometimes feels excruciating though, so therein lies some of that tension. What you wrestle with here you do so honestly, and it reminds me of the Psalms where there is hope, fear, confusion and belief, all in the same paragraph.

    I so wish I could ‘make’ the outcome we all want for you to happen, but instead, all I can offer is a prostrated position before our God, crying out to Him with you. I pray knowing I have seem Him heal miraculously many a time, but I pray also knowing I have seen those times when His healing is one of the Hebrews 11 styles where some saw the promises answered this side of heaven, but some on the other side. What comforts me in Hebrews 11 regardless though, is the assurance that God will be glorified.

    Being in the hospital this week with my daughter and witnessing her tears of pain, I thought of you and Tori and Brennan and prayed. I once again was reminded of the “Mama Bear” protection mode that is called forth, yet how truly vulnerable I am in not being able to control my daughter’s pain and outcomes. My comfort and peace lies in knowing God is with us, even when I don’t know what the future holds.

    Sorry to take up so much space here. I really have not had time to read my own emails, do my APU grad school work, or even feel like I could be a good friend to others, so this is unusual for me to write this much now- but felt like Holy Spirit put that fire in my bones to write it. Of course, if there be anything in here that does not resonate with your spirit or feed you life, than cast it aside. Only receive whatever bits have His life wrapped around them.

    I love ya sis, all the way from Africa.

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  4. Although I have never had to walk in your shoes I understand the feeling you are talking about. When my father-in-law became ill with terminal cancer unexpectedly I struggled with the same unbelief and not wanting to get my hopes up. My mother-in-law, his wife, was so brave. She told me we can have full confidence in our heavenly father knowing that He will heal Rick fully and completely. Whether here on earth or in Heaven, he would be healed. This statement allowed me to put all my energy and faith into trusting that God would heal him, I didnt have to question or doubt. Please know that your sweet baby is on my prayer wall and I am praying for her and your family daily.

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  5. I am not a religious person but I hope for the best for you and your family. Regardless of what an unseen god does or does not do, you are great parents and Tori is a very special girl who has touched many lives all over the world.

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  6. Dear Sweet Lesa, You are such an inspiration in your strength and in your weakness! We are all praying for you, Brennan and Little Tori!! A few weeks ago I cared for a family in the Emergency Department that lost their precious healthy baby to crib death at age 2 months!!! Each day of life is a Gift from God!! I am sure that family would have bargained with God for an extra month or day or minute……had they had the opportunity. God has surrounded you with love and support. Your prayers are not unanswered or unheard!!

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  7. Lesa, I don’t know that you really struggle with unbelief. I think what you’re experiencing is very common, and it’s what we experienced when our son Nathan was diagnosed with a rare, fatal, genetic disorder (Menkes Disease). We started praying for his healing immediately. We had other people doing the same thing. We talked about what a huge testimony his healing would/could be to all. You don’t recover from what he had without a miracle. You seldom live to the age of 2. But we KNEW and still KNOW God can do it. We know He loved Nathan more than even we did. And He loves Tori in that same way. We know He wants the best for His children. And yet…what is His best? In our minds, healing is best. But is that His thought? Does He have another plan? Is His plan carried out best by the illness and eventual death of our beloved child? It seems totally impossible that could be better than healing.

    I was just talking with someone about this the other day. I have mixed emotions praying for healing. We have frequent requests for prayer in our Sunday School class, some of them for very serious health issues. On the one hand, I feel kind of presumptious asking God to heal when I don’t know for sure that’s His plan. I’ve heard people tell God they know it’s His will, and they demand healing. I can’t do that. But then, If I pray for healing and then say, but “your will be done” I feel like the person being prayed for thinks I am afraid to believe He can do it.

    That’s not the case at all, because I DO know he can do it. But if the truth be told, I DON’T KNOW He will do it because I don’t know His will. I don’t know what He wants to do. What if my child had been healed? I know what happened because my child was NOT healed…our family and extended family grew in our faith, and we grew up in ways we wouldn’t have done otherwise. I became a lot more bold than I was before his birth. We gained a lot of credibility with people, because they watched our suffering and noticed that we didn’t fall apart, divorce, lose hope, etc. Our other two children grew up to be compassionate, mature, strong, smart and independent young adults.

    Would all this have happened anyway? Maybe, but probably not to the degree it did. We miss those days, in fact. We miss having inroads into people’s lives just because we were carrying our precious son around. We’ve become “invisible” again, except to those who knew Nathan and know the story of our lives. Strangers have no idea what a journey God took us through with this sweet tiny child who never spoke a word, couldn’t move on his own, and had to have our help for every part of his life.

    So…would we want to do this all over again? Yes and no. We’d still prefer God had healed Nathan for our own hearts’ sake…but knowing how He used this in our lives…and in the lives of many, many other people…we know His will was to NOT heal him here on earth but instead to use that journey to tenderize hearts. Along the way there were many miracles. And in the end, Nathan lived 14 years!! Almost unheard of (although now there are a few children who are living longer due to some newer treatments. It’s still fatal, but not always as early). I think we prayed for his healing for about two years, and then, at some point, we told God we knew He could do it, and still wanted Him to do it, but we were going to be happy with Nathan exactly as he was unless He wanted to change things. We still prayed for God to step in and heal whenever Nathan had things happen with his health, but we didn’t pray anymore for him to take Menkes away. We told God He knew our hearts, but we would embrace whatever He chose to do.

    This is all in retrospect. But I still pray for healing (adding an aside to God that we want His will). I pray that for Tori, believing He CAN and knowing He will do what is best, whatever that is. I’m so sorry your family has to go through this pain, but as a sister in Christ I can assure you that God is using this and will continue to do so.

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  8. Pingback: God is ALWAYS on Time | The Adventures of the Brackbill Family…

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