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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 15 - Faith

This was originally going to be the first topic I covered...it's taken a bit of thinking, and the hamster can come off the wheel pretty quick, sometimes.

We're linked to Inspire Me Monday.

We're also linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.

The fact of a limited life-horizon can change your spouse's faith, sometimes quite drastically...and it can be both puzzling and upsetting to you, the caregiver.

When you realize you're going to die in the finite future, and not in some misty other-decade, transcendent issues can become more sharply focused. It's no longer, "Am I saved?", and "Is the fragrance of my life pleasing to Christ?"...it's now, "Is all this real, and will I be around, in some form, after I pass beyond the wall?"

It's not an easy thing to face...that the faith you might have shared with your husband or wife now seems to be diverging. The epiphanies you may have shared in praise and worship might now stop with you, while your mate sits beside you, with a quizzical look.

First, don't panic. Yes, I'm using that word deliberately. Shaken faith can be contagious, but in this case you know why the faith has been shaken. It's not aa theological exaamination of "why does a good God allow evil?"

It's personal, and it's fear-driven. And, as such...and please forgive me for putting it this was...it's irrational.

Looking into the night, when you've got that malignancy inside you, and suddenly being afraid that the dark is all there is is exactly like the fear experienced by a child when the lights go out, and are there monsters under my bed?

The child knows that there are only dust-bunnies, and our foundation of faith is not, and should not be, dependent on circumstance.

So don't panic. Stand fast in your faith.

Second, don't preach. Listen, and when you're asked questions (and you will be asked, because the dying want above all to be reassured) be ready with substantive answers.

Don't quote Scripture, chapter and verse. Scriptural tags are always simply a spur to faith, and not a basis.

Tell the stories instead. Illuminate the wisdom of the Psalmist, and the shrewd, loving compassion of Jesus. Make it relevant; Make it both human and holy.

How? Describe the stuff that makes sense...the washing of the feet, for instance, and the model of the Saviour as servant. We complain about stinky feet wrapped in shoes all day. back then, street guttering...if it existed...was an open sewer, and the animals used as beasts of burden left their mark, so to speak, along every thoroughfare.
Not a cool place to walk in sandals.

And not something you...or I...would want to clean.

That doesn't have anything to do with death and life thereafter, but what it does speak to is how much sense Christianity makes. It's not some nasty ritual before a bloodstained idol. It's a common-sense approach to divinity.

Third, of you mate disagrees or closes down, let it go for the moment. There will probably be other opportunities. Jut don't push, because pushing creates resistance.

On a personal note...what has worked for me, as a way of sustaining my faith, is logic. In no particular order, here are the high points:

  • Jesus definitely lived. He's mentioned not only in Scripture, but in independent historical accounts whose veracity is not in question. We also know that Herod the Great and Pontius Pilate were real, and recent evidence points to a real Caiaphas.
  • The local traditions built around the places where Gospel events took place go back nearly to the time of Jesus. They are not a much-later accretion.
  • The Apostles were intelligent men, and were willing to risk death for their creed. I have to believe that people were not so fundamentally different then; it would take a lot of faith that what one is saying is real to be willing to die for the principles of a dead Jesus. It's indirect evidence that the Resurrection really happened, and that it cemented their faith.
I don't need the emotion of faith and worship, or modern-day miracle-workers. The evidence points to the happening of something quite extraordinary, two thousand years ago, something that changed the world...and the most logical explanation is the Scriptural one. Mass delusion simply does not make sense.



  1. Thank you again for your insight here. I saw some of this happen when we walked with mum through her illness - each of us with different views on faith, and yes, some 'shut-down', some denial aka 'blind faith' when I couldn't deal with the realities I was facing. I made my share of the insensitive mistakes you highlight. You speak of the dying's faith being shaken and needing reassurance - I think in our case, it was mine that wavered most.

    And yet... God is faithful. He pulled us all through, messily and gloriously, and despite it all we find ourselves still in his love today (and mum now seeing him face to face). 'Nothing... neither life nor death, nor any power, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.' It's really true, and I'm deeply grateful.

    1. What a lovely, transparent comment you've shared, Ruth.

      Thank you for that. I will remember "He pulled us through, messily and gloriously" for a long, long time.

  2. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. I don't know if I'll ever be in that situation, but I appreciate the opportunity to know what it might entail.

    The Wiersbe BE series book on the second part of John tells about how the disciples' faith was restored by the resurrection. It's a very good book that we just studied, and your third bullet point reminded me of that.

    1. Thank you so much, Melissa. It is a hard place to be - and I hope it's a road you'll never have to take - but I'm gratified that you found something worthwhile here, and especially something that ties in with your recent Bible Study.

  3. Very good points, Andrew. I think as individual as each one of us are (just as the disciples were), we each have our own way of coming at faith, and I think God uses this to further His Kingdom. We all experience fear; it can be transforming when we let it. But we have to get to the other side - and that can be scary. Each believer's testimony helps us step out in faith. Blessings to you.

    1. The road through the Valley of the Shadow is terrifying...but the road goes THROUGH it. It's not a dead (!) end.

      Thus, hope.

  4. It's interesting that you should approach this subject as I have as well at MM, Andrew. I almost went with a different video for this week (that's in the queue). I can't help but think that God is in the details of that. I totally get your spouse's concern. She can't get inside your head and heart and probably misunderstands or simply disagrees with some of your choices and arguments. But that creates this fearfulness you spoke of--she wants to be sure you understand and place your faith in Christ. It's all coming from a very loving place, although it doesn't feel like it, given the approach she has used. I think you see that in her. I see threads of grace and truth woven throughout this post, my friend. The only thing that matters, in my view, is that you are not placing your faith in your ability to earn salvation. None of us can do that. It's simply that faith in Christ's work that will usher You into His presence much too soon. Love ya!

    1. God has arranged this, I'm sure. And no, I sure don't put my faith in my own abilities...I can barely bend over enough to tie my shoes!

      And yes, it does come from love, Barbara's concern.

      Speaking of God's arrangements...I was watching a golf tournament on TV yesterday, and heard this story -

      A pro golfer (don't recall his name) has had two heart transplant. He was playing in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin ,Ohio last week, and chanced to go to a local restaurant.

      In talking with his server, he learned that she'd lost a teenage nephew in a car accident a year or so previously.

      The golfer asked the boy's name...

      And you guessed it. The heart of the server's nephew was beating in his chest.

  5. You have an amazing way with words and making the Gospel relevant and real for today! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    1. Rachel, thank you so much. The Gospel is the most precious of gifts, and to be able to share it is a privilege.

  6. I'm grateful that you share so vulnerably the challenges that come between you and your wife as you stare death in the face, Andrew. I think going through what you are would do that to any couple--even if they agreed on most spiritual beliefs. Anxiety and grief are reigning in the day. But to me, "faith" isn't really an emotion. Faith is a deeply held belief that against all odds, my Savior is who He says He is and not simply because it makes sense. In fact, I think the gospel doesn't make sense to us. Jesus said as much all throughout the gospels. It is only revealed to those who want to receive it. Just sayin'. Hugs to you!

    1. Hmmm, interesting point. I will have to consider that one! For me, the logic of the Gospels holds a lot of their beauty...you read them, and you realize that it simply could not have been any other way...that the other explanations just don'[t hold up.

      Sharing the conflicts and disagreements is hard, but up to a point I have to do it...it's the way I can best serve this community, because the hardest -learned lessons are almost always the most important ones.

  7. Once again, thank you for sharing your insights with us. God can use anyone, anywhere to help his needy children strengthen their faith. Your words reach out and touch those who seek assurance.

    1. That I can reach out, and that God can thus work through me, is such a huge privilege!

  8. Beautifully done, Andrew, thank you so much. I value your real faith, tested by so many things, including your current fight.

    1. Paul, thank you, and I appreciate your dropping by!

      The funny thing about current circumstance is that it's torn away the temporal veil, and God is looming.