As the family drove back to Memphis on Monday, Megan and I talked a lot about how this week was starting a new chapter of our story with Bennett. The first chapter was discovering the disease. The second chapter began with starting treatment and ended with learning that it wasn’t working. And now that we are preparing for the next step, I’m having to find courage from Jesus to turn the page instead of writing the story myself. I’ve come to discover that faith in God’s story requires more courage than I ever knew.
Think about Abraham. God called him out to leave his family, travel to an unknown land and let God bless him into becoming the father of a great nation. That sounds like a great story…and it is! But he first had to escape famine by living in Egypt, keep from losing his beautiful wife to the Egyptians, deal with some significantly selfish extended family and then lead his servants into battle to save those same family members. After all that, his faith muscles and his wife’s faith muscles were tired. They were too tired to read the next chapter God was going to write. So they wrote it themselves.
Abraham: “God promised us a son, Sarai…but we’re getting old. I don’t know how this is going to happen.”
Sarai: “I do. God doesn’t seem to be writing this story through my womb…but maybe He will through my servant girl, Hagar.”
Abraham: “What are saying?”
Sarai: “Let’s move this story along. I can’t wait any longer to see how it will end. God promised you a son…so have one with her instead of me.”
Abraham: “Hmm. That sounds like a great plan!”
Nine months later, Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abraham. And ever since, the descendants of Ishmael have been at war with the descendants of Abraham. Millions have died in the conflicts these two sides of the same family have fought with each other. Ultimately, it was fear and fatigue that led Abraham and Sarah to write the next page on their own. I know that now because I’m learning that waiting on God’s promise to be felt in this life leaves lots of room for fear and fatigue to grow.
Yesterday, there was a lot of fear and fatigue trying to set in our hearts. We had a rough few days with Bennett and went to our clinic appointment anxious to talk with them about it all. They could tell he was not doing well and we decided to put him on a pump with continuous pain meds to help him rest better and be more comfortable. Our doctor also confirmed our fear that the clinical trial may not be ready by the time we wanted it to be. She also informed us that none of the trial drugs could be given through an NG Tube. So whatever we do…Bennett is in for a LOT more medicines by mouth. Right now, Bennett is scheduled for a new scan in the morning and our team is working their tail off to see what drug we can get him on by Monday. Everyone agrees he needs to be on something…now!
So as we sit and wait for the next treatment to be ready, we can see Bennett’s abdomen grow, his body weaken and every bit of ground we had fought for the last four months slip away. It’s discouraging and it makes you begin to look around for anything…anything that will turn the tide…anything that looks like a solution…a faster way to the end of this story. But we don’t want to settle for our version of Hagar and Ishmael.
When I realized that what I was longing for was a faster way to the end of the story, so many things made more sense to me. We all have pain or unmet expectations that we experience in life and waiting patiently to see how God will comfort or provide for us is hard. Whether you are waiting for your child to experience healing, waiting for your spouse to love you better or waiting for any storm to end…these are the moments the enemy hits us with doubt and discouragement. These two weapons amplify any spiritual fatigue you are feeling and fear begins to take over.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, let me tell you that there is hope. We can have the courage again to turn the page instead of writing the story ourselves. You can’t stop the enemy from attacking you with doubt and discouragement. But you can rebuke him and tell him to leave…and he’s going to keep trying! So you need to make sure you are not so spiritually fatigued that doubt and discouragement overwhelm you. Listen to the words of Jesus telling the crowd what it took to have strength to make it through a long storm.
“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
Did you see the cure? “He who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…!” The only thing that keeps you from experiencing spiritual fatigue is putting into practice the things you learn from Jesus. Proverbs talks about this way…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We are trusting in the Lord and choosing to not let fear take us off course of His path for us. We KNOW we are supposed to be at St. Jude. We KNOW that we are supposed to keep fighting. We KNOW that we are supposed to be believing Him for Bennett’s healing.
And that’s all we know. But that’s enough. Our prayer for all of Team Bennett is that you would make sure that you are not spiritually fatigued. Do no let doubt or fear creep in and keep you from praying the prayer of faith.
I’ll leave you with a quote from today’s devotional Megan and I are reading. We are praying the prayer of faith!
“In my own life, I test my prayers in this way: after committing something to God, if I can come away…with no more sadness, pain or anxiety in my heart, I see it as proof that I have prayed the prayer of faith. But if I pray and still carry my burden, I conclude my faith was not exercised.” (Streams In The Desert, April 24th)