Faith – such a small word for such a big thing.
There’s a story in the bible where Jesus is standing across the water and calls Peter out towards Him. Peter looks to Jesus and steps out to walk on the water towards Jesus.
Matthew 14: 27-31
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I have always admired Peter for the enormous amount of faith it took to step out onto the water, however recently I find myself wondering if Peter would have taken that first step, if he wasn’t looking at Jesus. How much faith does it take when you can’t see Jesus?
My faith has been tested, stretched, pulled, squished, poked and prodded this past year. Honestly, there are days it is hard to see Jesus at first glance through my circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW He is there. I know He is with me. I feel him and I can see Him if I look really, really hard. But most days it doesn’t feel like I am staring across the water at Jesus, being asked to take that first step on water in faith. It feels more like I’m standing in a thick fog. In the darkness of night. And I’m blind folded. And it’s cold. And the sounds I hear alternate between being at a rock concert and the deep silence you hear when you go underwater in a swimming pool. And then there is this faint whisper in the far-off distance I'm supposed to hear. Except I can’t tell where it is coming from. And it is unclear exactly what it is telling me to do. That’s what life feels like to me. I think that voice is telling me to take a step out in faith but the sea is really violent. But unlike Peter, I can’t physically see Jesus. And yet I know I’m supposed to just step out in faith.
Having faith through the storm is relatively easy when “the storm” resembles a light drizzle on a dreary day. But have you had to have faith when the storm is violent? Really, really violent. A sustained high speed winds, pouring down rain, cracks of lightening, roaring thunder type of storm. The type of storm that is going to try to destroy your life, leaving you hoping for the lesser of two evils. My faith has been matched against quite the storm this past year. Month after month we’ve faced challenges. And each time my faith has been stretched just a bit further. First it was trusting God with our son’s birth. The “choice” we were given was to terminate or wait for a stillbirth that could put my own health at risk and inevitably draw out our pain and suffering. Any hope we had of him surviving was immediately met with the reality that we were told he was going to be severely delayed both physically and cognitively. And then came this bright eyed and beautiful baby boy – who was tiny but oh so mighty. And he not only survived but thrived at birth. Then we faced the fear of what this meant for our future. Would our child know us? Would he eat? Would he interactive with us? Would he go to school someday? We took him home with a plan to love him and celebrate the blessing of each day. And take it day by day. We had hospice in place to help us achieve a quality of life and stay out of the hospital. We did not want our baby to live in the hospital. Then we found out he was in stage 4 kidney failure with likely only a few weeks to months to live. So heartbroken and emotionally devastated, we continued to celebrate each day at home.
And then his kidney function improved and heart surgery became an option; an option we never prepared ourselves for since he was in kidney failure. (Open heart surgery and kidney failure don’t play well together – I’ll spare you from my nerdy side and omit the explanation why!) The option of heart surgery was bittersweet because it meant another difficult decision. We could correct his congenital heart condition but risk causing irreparable damage to his one small kidney. Or we could not repair the heart and watch our son suffer from heart failure. Again that whisper of a voice, in the increasingly far off distance, reminded me to have faith and just trust Him.
Like I said, faith in a storm. A violent storm. I never struggled with faith before this past year. Trusting God is easy when life is relatively unaltered or if you can live with either outcome of a particular circumstance. It’s easy to trust God through an experience, when you know once you get through the experience, you will be okay. But how does your faith hold up when you can’t see the other side of the experience or even worse, getting through the experience just means life gets tougher? Faith means trusting God no matter the outcome. It means believing that even if your baby does not survive, God will see you through it. It means believing that even if your child isn’t “normal” and has special needs, God will see you through it. It means believing that no matter how violent the storm gets, Jesus is standing across the water even if you can’t see Him. And all you have to do, is have faith.
Faith, Jesus and a storm,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.