A guest post on Longsuffering and Perseverance by Erin Ashley
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Choose Faith Until You Get To Heaven
I was in the passenger’s seat, tears streaming down my face as my husband drove us to the hospital. Our first son, the one we had anticipated, planned, and prayed for was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a life threatening condition. The shock was fresh, and we were still coming to terms with everything that had transpired.
Praying For A Miracle
I questioned God’s goodness and providence. I questioned my very faith. But in that moment, in that car on the way to the hospital, I decided to pray. I cried out for God’s divine intervention. I prayed for a miraculous healing. I felt in my bones that our story was meant to end with a miracle. I wanted to point to God’s power and goodness at his healing of my sweet boy.
When we arrived at the hospital, I was sure that we would get good news. I just knew a miracle was right around the corner.
When the Miracle Didn’t Come
That’s not what happened, however. Things went from bad to worse. Each new test yielded increasingly troubling results, until it became clear that our son needed to transfer to a larger, better equipped hospital. His condition was more serious than anyone had anticipated.
My faith took a real nosedive. I had hoped for a miracle, but the opposite seemed to be happening. I began to realize that my son’s health issues would not clear up over night, and we might be in it for the long haul.
I decided then and there that I would not, under any circumstance, allow this illness or anything that followed to steal my faith.
Help Me Overcome My Unbelief
At that time, I had no idea how I would follow through with that resolution or how to deal with the crisis of faith with which I was grappling. I felt a lot like the father of the demon-possessed boy described in Mark 9:17-29. “I believe you, Jesus,” I prayed, “help me overcome my unbelief.”
Instead of denying or making light of my questions, I tackled them head on. I brought them before God. I shined a light on my deepest, darkest thoughts and doubts. I read books, articles, and scriptures about God’s goodness and how I could love and trust a God who allowed such pain in my life.
After a few weeks, an odd thing started to happen. I began to feel joy again. I began to trust. I began to share the gospel with the other parents, nurses, and doctors in the NICU.
Perseverance Produces Mature Faith
God definitely brought about a miracle, just not at the time or in the way that I had originally wanted. Instead, he allowed pain. He allowed my faith to stretch and bend, almost to the point of breaking. Then, he rebuilt something even stronger. I was not joyful about the challenges at the time, and I still struggle with what chronic illness means for my family, but I now have a better understanding of the value of longsuffering and perseverance.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
God allows trials and the testing of our faith over time so that we will learn to persevere, to maintain and grow our faith, even in the midst of life’s toughest circumstances. Then, when we have learned to choose faith, time and time and time again, we become mature — no longer weak and lacking. Life can throw anything our way, and instead of buckling under the pressure, we stand, becoming stronger than we were before.
Before enduring my son’s chronic health issues, and certainly before our time in the NICU and the lengthy hospitalizations since then, my faith was clearly lacking. Though I would never have admitted as such, I was, as many people are, a “health and wealth Christian.” I thought that if you pray and trust God, even if you go through hard times, everything will work out for the good. And I mean “good” by human standards, not God’s. My house of faith was not built on a solid foundation, so when the storms of life assailed me, it came crashing down.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
Perseverance is a Continually Made Decision
Sweet friend, a decision to persevere isn’t a decision you can make once and never revisit. Like running a race, you place one foot in front of the other, over and over and over. You could stop and rest, turn back, or give up, but instead, you keep going.
Persevering in faith is the same. As you make your way thorough life, challenges and disappointments arise. When you decide to trust God and move forward in faith time and time again, against all odds and in the face of life’s heartaches and disappointments, your faith strengthens and matures. Instead of a faulty foundation and a shaky house, your foundation of faith becomes firm, and your house can withstand any storm.
Will He Say Well Done?
Choosing faith isn’t easy. In fact, when the stakes are at their highest, it will likely be the hardest decision you’ll make. But, friend, you will never regret it. Keep the end game in mind. The finish line. The final trumpet sound. The phrase we all spend our Christian walk waiting to hear.
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21
That’s the goal, is it not? Longsuffering, persevering, over and over again. Fighting the good fight of faith. Running the race. The goal is overcoming the pain, brokenness, and sin of this world and making it to the arms of Jesus. Let it be said of us what the writer of Hebrews said of the forefathers and mothers of the faith:
“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better...” Hebrews 11:37-40
The world was not worthy of them.
Friend, my prayer for you is that you choose perseverance in faith. Against all odds. Against all logic. God has something so much better in store for you. Something that the Father has prepared, that nothing on this earth can take away. Heaven.
Hey, friend! I’m Erin, the mama behind LullabyLark.com. My crew includes my husband, Ben, our fur babies Ollie and Izzy, and my two sons, Caspian and Griffin, who was born with pulmonary hypertension. We have spent the past three years learning what it means to choose faith in the face of life’s greatest hurts. My passion is supporting moms as they walk through challenging circumstances, offering hope and healing that can only be found in Jesus.