As I write these word, my dear wife lies 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 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, arm, 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 incredibly, I survived. 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.
Surgery was scheduled at the beginning of March, 2015, with promising results that allowed a return of about ninety percent of my wife’s vision. After six weeks, a repeat M.R.I., revealed that more than half of the calcified tumor remained on the right side, and just under, the optic chasm—where the right and left optic nerves intersect. A second surgery was scheduled within days, and a ten hour procedure to remove the remaining tumor was performed. Two days after the second surgery, my wife noticed that she had no vision in her right eye, which was near perfect prior to the second surgery. The left eye had severe temporal vision loss on the left side of the left eye.
I have spent many tearful and broken hearted moments since this loss of vision was first observed and I continue today to feel the searing pain of my wife’s suffering.
The two neurosurgeon’s who performed the second procedure, are both world renowned physicians with a combined forty year history of successful operations. The second day that my wife lay in the intensive care unit of the hospital, both men were also near tears as they witnessed my wife’s loss of vision. I was particularly impressed with their compassion, though they must have certainly seen this very result on many occasions before.
In the first follow up visit with the primary neurosurgeon, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me: “You give hope to people, do you not Mr. Robinson? Isn’t this what you do, you give them hope? Give yourself some hope, give your wife time to heal. The cells of the optic nerve are the most sensitive in the body and they take a very long time to recover. We will wait and hope that your wife’s vision does return.”
Waiting. I cannot speak for you but I really hate waiting—for anything. Though I have been a follower of Jesus for more than forty years, I still have a big problem in this area.
As I have read through and taught the entire Bible over the course of the past forty years, I have observed the many occasions where the Lord often required those who believe in Him—to wait. It seems to be a part of the Lord’s nature, and His enduring manner of teaching us, that time is a very good remedy for faith. The longer we wait for something, the more our faith has a chance to grow. That is, if we properly channel our thoughts into the right area. If we focus our hopes upon the goodness of the Lord and remember the many times that He has rescued us in the past and provided so many wonderful blessings, we can survive those frequent moments when the Lord waits to deliver our requests.
Over the course of four decades, I have experienced a life full of terrible trials. I do not seem to have much more patience today than I did the first time I went through a difficulty. What I have learned over the course of time and many tribulations, is the Lord constantly reveals Himself as incredibly good and kind to those who trust in Him. God always has our best interests at heart. He delights in helping the weak and needy and He is able to deliver any person from any peril. Whether or not deliverance is in our best interest, is frequently unknown to me. It is often when an answer to prayer does not come, that we really see where our heart and our trust resides. For me, I often fail miserably in this area. Before a trial begins, I will declare how faithful the Lord is and how many times He has rescued me. Once the trial is fully treading upon my heart, I lose my confidence very quickly and fall into sadness and begin to lose hope.
The stories that are included in this book, are from the actual experiences of real people from the Bible. The Lord does not make excuses for their bad behavior and frequent lack of faith. He simply allows us to see these people as they really are and how He worked in their doubts and weaknesses to bring about spiritual growth. As each person faltered, the Lord waited. When they were ready to do what they should, He began to lead them once again. At the end of the story for each person, their successes and failures are laid before us as dirty laundry—now cleaned and read to wear. We see how patient the Lord is as He waits for people. This is a surprising attribute of God that is most desirable. As the Lord waits, we have the opportunity for self evaluation. When we come to our senses and begin to do as we should, He immediately picks up where He left off and continues the journey with us.
The truth is, this book would never have been written if the Lord had immediately restored my wife’s vision after the second surgery. It was through the agony and suffering—by the passage of time, experiencing the loss of something so precious to both of us, that my heart and mind were moved to write these words. I began to understand the immensity of God’s plan for our lives as I was forced to wait and trust Him. The writing of this book helped me tremendously as I contemplated our experience. I was compelled to consider the fact that the Lord is waiting to heal my wife—intentionally. In His time, and in His way, He will bring about the healing of her vision that I believe He had intended to accomplish all along. This all happened, most likely, for my spiritual growth. I am the person who is impatient. I am the one who begins to lose hope so easily when a difficulties arrive. It is likely my fault that this delay has occurred in the first place. I am easily able to wait on the Lord during my own trials—it is another matter altogether when it comes to my dear wife. I often fail and fall in my patience and trust.
It is my hope that by the writing of these words, I might be of some assistance to you in all of your difficulties. That I might encourage you to endure your own times of trials, so that you will rest your hope securely upon the Lord—who is able to deliver you.
The New Book by Robert Clifton Robinson, Understanding God’s Timing