What exactly is faith? According to dictionary.com, faith is: “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”
James 1:3 describes the outcome of faith in this way… “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
As I have mentioned in my most recent emails, the Z-kids have started homeschooling this past year. One of Ariana’s books involved with her unit study of China was on Hudson Taylor. As I was pre-reading her text, I was astonished at the way he challenged his own faith in the Lord. He KNEW he was called to China. But he also knew he couldn’t hack it as a missionary if he didn’t have the utmost faith in the Lord. As a result he decided to test his own faith.
One of the first accounts in the biography was when he was an impoverished protestant minister and he had one coin in his pocket and enough food at home to have a bowl of porridge for breakfast. He was asked to call upon a family one night who had absolutely nothing. No food…no hope… That very night Taylor knew God was asking him to trust Him with his daily bread. He felt in his spirit that he needed to give his last coin to this very poor and discouraged family. But he also knew that if God didn’t intervene on his behalf that he would have nothing to eat the next day himself.
Taylor could have easily prayed for the family and made no personal sacrifice with no personal risk to himself, but instead he was obedient and gave his last coin to the family. He went home secure in the Lord’s provision. The next day he ate his last bowl of porridge, and when the mail came there was a package containing a pair of gloves and another coin that was worth four times the value of the coin he had given away. Taylor gave God the glory, and his faith was strengthened.
Reading this account challenged me so much! As an American I have never known hunger, I have never lacked for anything, and my health and well-being has always been intact. So when I say I have faith in the Lord, what I mean is I THINK I have faith in the Lord. Faith, left untested is an idea, but when Faith is truly tested we find out pretty quickly what we are made of.
When your faith is tested…
I have heard many people say that they don’t have “peace” about something, so they feel they shouldn’t proceed. However, it has been my experience and also supported with Scripture that this life will not be without troubles. In fact, when we are following the hardest after the Lord, that is when Satan often attacks us the most. This actually creates a lack of peace. The peace that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit is an inner sense of calm and trust that occurs in the midst of the storm.
When Wojtek and I stepped out in faith to answer the calling on our lives to serve the people in PNG by bringing them the Word of God, and by bringing the gospel, health care and literacy to an underserved and discouraged people group we knew that God would ask things of us. This decision is not without sacrifice. We have been asked to:
- Trust God with our financial resources. We are leaving good jobs and the security of a steady income to trust God with our daily bread.
- Trust God with the timing. We want to be resourced by January, but God’s plans may be different from our own plans! Who can really tell? This can be discouraging at times, and has truly stretched our faith!
- Trust God with our family. What if they are unwell or need us while we are away? What about the nieces and nephews we will be missing as they grow up…and the time our children miss with grandparents.
- Trust God with our relationships…we are leaving behind our friends and the people who care about us. This is particularly hard on our kiddos.
- Trust God with our children…
I want to elaborate on the last one. I really feel like I trust God with our children, because up until recently our children were uncomplicated and not a great source of worry. Sure transition may be difficult, and their lives will be different from their American friends, but different is not bad! But what about when God asks us to trust him with the medical needs of our child…from the jungle.
For years, our 7 year old, Katrielle, has been dealing with chronic ears/hearing issues. Up until recently we thought this was conductive loss due to chronic fluid, but after 4 different ENTs and 5 surgeries…we were all wrong. Katrielle has a very unique issue involving the structure of her ear. Because of the way her eustachian tubes are shaped it creates a vacuum, which pulls and stretches her ear drum until it literally wraps itself around the hearing bones in her ears. In and of itself its no big deal, but over time this leads to the destruction of her hearing bones, which causes hearing loss and even deafness if left untreated. Her recent surgery showed that the two bones, the stapes and the incus, which are supposed to articulate and then send vibrations to the cochlea have broken apart. She can still hear because the eardrum contacts the stapes directly but at great risk to the stapes.
This is medical mumbo-jumbo for the fact that she now requires regular monitoring of her ears to try to intervene at just the right moment as to not inflict more hearing loss but to try to prevent deteriation of the stapes and incus. As a parent I’m wondering how do I monitor this adequately in the jungle? This isn’t something a regular physican can manage. We have the ear specialist within the ENT group at AI Dupont managing her currently.
As I was worrying and struggling, I was again reminded of Hudson Taylor…who said:
In other words…God’s got this. And as the physican reminded me…even if she is here in the states we could fail to intervene at the right time and she could lose her hearing. He also said that with a condition as unpredictable as hers, we could stay in the states in favor of her doctors here and she could coast along without further deterioration.
But God asks us to trust Him. Obey the calling to GO, and trust him with our lives, our health and the well-being of our little ones.
And also, I should mention that we can look into Australia as an option to get her semi-regular care. It’s not perfect but God knows her needs and will provide. And if it is His plan for her to be deaf or to need hearing aids or to have other issues with her ears, then it will happen regardless of our location and interventions. Because God is the great physician and He cares for her in a far greater way than we ever could.
As missionaries in PNG I’m certain that this is just the tip of the iceburg as far as seeing our faith tested and watching How God chooses to be faithful. But I know that no matter HOW God answers these prayers that it is our prayer He is glorified. Glorified in her hearing, or glorified in her loss of hearing.
James 1:2 says “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds… then it goes on to remind us that “the testing of your faith produces endurance.” During her surgery I was reminded that my child was otherwise healthy. I was surrounded by suffering and physically broken children, with wearied parents. I am thankful that she is healthy and well, and I know God will use this trial in her life and our own to produce endurance.
So please join with me in praying that we will not be given over to the fear that our choices could have a negative outcome on her health, but that we will choose to respond in faith and with joy as the Spirit provides. Today we need faith in God’s timing, faith in His provision, and faith in His hand of protection over our family.