There are many moments in the course of our lives when we find it difficult to trust the Lord. Even after experiencing a wonderful miracle or incredible moving of God in our lives—when a trial follows, we may find trust a difficult issue. For some reason we seem to focus more on the things that we do not have, rather than the many blessings that God has already given to us.
As I write these words, my dear wife lays in a bed across from me in the Intensive Care unit of a hospital. Two months ago, she began to experience headaches and a loss of vision. An M.R.I., revealed that she has a craniopharyngioma; a tumor, about the size of a golf ball, inside the very center of her brain. The optic nerves of her eyes, as well as the Pituitary gland, have been compressed by the presence of this slow growing tumor—during her entire forty-eight years, until it has finally robbed her of all vitality of life. Two months previous to my wife’s awareness that she would require two intensive brain surgeries, I suffered a heart attack on a remote island in the Philippines. We had been working together for the past five years, to bring some relief to the poor of an forgotten people, who live in object poverty. Just after midnight on October 10, 2014, I awoke with a searing pain in the center of my back, left shoulder, and chest. I didn’t know at the time that I was having a heart attack. I had been working so hard that I believed my pain was caused by a torn muscle in my back. I did not receive any treatment for my heart attack for another three weeks. I should have died during the early weeks after this event, but I did not. A blood clot had formed in the lower part of my heart that doctors describe as a “Thrombosis.” Nearly one-third of my heart muscle had died during this attack. Shortly after arriving back in the United States for treatment in late November of 2014, we learned of my wife’s brain tumor.
During the entire process of our suffering, I have constantly been reminded of the Lord’s great love for us.
In spite of all that the Lord has done for us during the past 40 years, this particular trial with my wife’s condition, has been especially difficult for me. I care very little for my own life, but I care immensely for hers. After the first surgery, the neurosurgeon was able to remove a large portion of the tumor and decompress my wife’s optic nerve. The immediate results were dramatic. Nearly all of the lost sight had now been restored. As the weeks progresses, she acquired near 20/20 vision.
At the seven week mark, after the first surgery, a second M.R.I. was performed. A large portion of the tumor was remaining in the right side of the brain, just under the optic chiasm where the right and left optic nerves cross inside the center of the brain. This would require a second surgery, from the right side of my wife’e skull. The surgery was completed after nearly 10 hours and the early reports indicated a great success in removing most of the tumor. The following day, after my wife awoke from the anesthesia and could open her eyes, we discovered that there was no vision in the right eye, and only about fifty percent in the left eye.
The Neurosurgeon’s who performed this second procedure are both world renowned physicians. Their combined expertise is over 40 years with thousands of successful procedures.
Why did my wife suffer total loss of vision in the right eye after the second surgery? This is a question that I have asked the Lord and the surgeons, repeatedly.
The answer is that on a few occasions, total vision loss occurs in one or both eyes. In many of these cases, eye sight is absent from one or both eyes for days, weeks, or even months, before it returns. Sometimes, vision does not return at all.
After experiencing nearly four decades of the Lord providing excellent results to impossible circumstance, I expected the immediate outcome of this second surgery to be the same. When it was not, I was in great despair. For days after, I cried many times and sought the Lord repeatedly to explain to me why this had happened. Today, it is Monday, the 8th day since the second surgery was completed. I am in a place of sadness. I find myself questioning the neurosurgeon’s, asking them about how the procedure was performed, even suggesting a few possible complications that may have occurred. Can you imagine a man like me, with no training or education in neurosurgery—questioning two men who have spent their entire lives learning how to perfect the skill of Neurosurgery? It is rather ridiculous, but nevertheless, I have found myself asking them questions regarding optic neuritis, or some other possible complication. The primary surgeon is always very patient with me and answers every question, finishing our conversation with a firm hand upon my shoulder, “let’s give it some time…”
When the Lord does not perform in the manner that we expect, we may often become filled with fear, doubts, and even some anger. It is during this time that I have to be honest with myself and accept that this difficulty for me was not as a result of a failure by the Lord, or the neurosurgeons, it it a failure of myself—to trust the Lord.
The Example of Job
During the massive trials that Job experienced in his life, he was also faced with a moment when he had to decide what he was going to do; trust the Lord or blame Him and doubt His goodness. Job suffered immensely during the many losses of his life—not as a result of anything that he had done wrong, but for everything that he had done right. The devil had made an accusation in the first chapter of the book, alleging that Job only served the Lord for the benefits that He provided for him and his family. The Lord granted satan limited access to Job’s life, so that this hypothesis could be tested. In the end, Job chose to trust the Lord, even in the midst of losing everything that was dear to him. Job determined that even if the Lord should decide to take his life, he would still trust Him.
Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
If you love the Lord, it is certain that your faith will also be tested. Not in the sense that God needs to see if you have faith, but so that you can see how you do under pressure. We have made a confession of trust in the Lord. We have stated that we love Him and believe that He is good and faithful. It is not until we are under pressure, during a great trial, that we can see ourselves for who we truly are. In the midst of pain and suffering, we are able to see that our trust in the Lord is shaken during moments of difficulty. We may hold on for awhile, but the Lord will often extend the trial for weeks, months, or years, before relief arrives. It is often during a greater duration of time than we expect, that our true self is seen.
When we don’t see the Lord provide for us, heal us, take care of a problem in our life, or show us what to do, we may begin to lose hope. When our hope is weakened, we begin to doubt the Lord, and may fall away from Him for awhile.
When Peter told Jesus that he was willing to die for Him, the Lord informed Peter that this assertion would be tested.
At one point, when Jesus asked the disciples who they believed Him to be, Peter stated with confidence: “you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus congratulated Peter on his wise perception. A moment later, Peter instructed Jesus to not go to Jerusalem, for there He would be crucified and die. Jesus turned to Peter and told Him that he was thinking like a mere man, not as God thinks. Jesus said to Peter; “get behind me satan…” Then Jesus informed this bold disciple that when He was arrested and crucified, Peter and all of the disciples would scatter and hide. Peter said that he would never forsake Jesus. The Lord then informed Peter that before morning dawned, he would deny that he even knew Jesus, on three separate occasions. Then Jesus said something truly amazing: He told Peter that when he recovered from his unfaithfulness, and came to his senses, he should return and take what he learned and share it with the other followers of Jesus, so as to strengthen them in their faith.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
“Peter, you are going to stumble and fall, but when you recover, take what you have learned from this experience and go to the other believers and share your experience with them.”
It is through the terrible and painful trials of our life—which Jesus prepares for us, that we learn the best, how to trust the Lord. It is when the trial is over that we have an opportunity to take the knowledge that we have acquired during the trial and encourage others who are also going through their own trials. I write to you, in the midst of my own pain and suffering, to encourage you to continue to trust Jesus—no matter what happens.
We have decided that even if the Lord does not restore my wife’s sight, we will love and trust Jesus, just the same. It is our heart-felt belief that the Lord is always good and He continually has our best interests at heart. He promised to use all things that happen during our life, to make them turn out for good. I believe this, even when I may not see those good results during this lifetime. I realize that I am only here on the earth for a short time. I will be leaving soon, to go home. When I arrive in heaven with the Lord, no one will ever become sick, or die again. Everything will be perfect and we will all live under the love and grace of the Lord, forever.
Whenever I find it particularly difficult to understand what the Lord is doing in my life and sometimes wonder if He really loves me, I always look back to the cross where Jesus died. On that brutal day, Jesus gave His life for me when He did not have to. He chose to take all of my sins upon Himself and suffer the penalty for those sins—instead of requiring me to pay for my own sins. God has forever displayed the certainty of His love for all people, for all time. The Lord does not need to prove—again, His love for me when I am suffering in the midst of a trial. He has left me with a permanent record of His certain love and I need never doubt the reality of that love again. I look at the cross and I see Jesus hanging there for me. At that moment, I have all the proof that will ever need that God does love me and cares deeply for my life.
I have decided that I will trust the Lord, regardless of what happens. Even if He decides to take my life, I will still trust Him.