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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 292 - The Caregiver And The Mustard Seed

"Your husband would be healed if you just had more faith!"

I think most caregivers have heard this variation - and misapplication - of Matthew 17:20:

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

This was Jesus' reply to His apostles when they could not cure a boy possessed by a demon, so He had to wade in and do it.

In the correct context, Jesus is commenting on our condition...well, commenting on the fact that our faith is conditional. We're always second-guessing it, and in this life there's almost no way that it can have even a mustard-seed's-worth of purity.

We don't have the focus we need to have the faith, and in this life, we never will.

Well, almost never.

You've no doubt heard of instances in which a single person lifted a car or tractor off a trapped person, thereby saving a life...and after the fact could not budge the thing.

Wikipedia calls it hysterical strength, and quotes learned sources as saying that these incidents, while theoretically possible, are anecdotal. For a certain ind of scientist, if it can't be reproduced under laboratory condition, it didn't happen.

Well, yes, they're anecdotal because they can't be duplicated under controlled condition, in a lab. (Care to volunteer to be pinned under a car, all in the name of Science, while your instrumented-up-the-wazoo-grandmother tires to lift it?)

Case in point - on June 4, 1942, Floyd Adkins, the radioman/gunner in Ens. Bill Pittman's dive-bomber, had his 175-lb gun mount break loose. Adkins not only caught and steadied the guns, but he also shot down a Japanese fighter. After returning to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, Adkins (who weighed less than the guns) couldn't lift the assembly.

Anecdotal? Sure. But I think the dead Japanese fighter pilot would have thought differently.

Hysterical strength? I think not. I think this is an example of focused faith, the kind we can only experience for very short times, and it's something we can't manufacture.

We have to accept what and who we are, flawed beings whose faith is diluted to a microscopic amount...but we can take heart that there lies the potential, the God-strength within us, to go far beyond what we thought we could do.

And that, dear caregiver, is, I hope, your comfort. You may not have the faith to save your husband or wife, but I believe that you do have the faith that will one day let you look back over your caregiving journey and marvel...

"Was it really me, doing all that?"

Now over to The Digital Age, for 'Captured'...

A bit of news..."Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" has come home! Tate Publishing has gone south, and I regained the rights, so it'll soon be available in both Kindle hardcopy versions once again. In the meantime, if you absolutely can't wait (!), you can still get used copies from Amazon.

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.

Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.


And marley has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.

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  1. Such good counsel here, and, honestly, I can't think of anything more cruel than allowing a caregiver ( or any loved one) to believe that their own lack of faith is standing in the way of a healing. Thanks for setting the record straight!

    1. Thank you so much, Michele. It's amazing how many people think they are offering a kind of encouragement when they tell someone that 'ore faith could heal him!" It's dreadful.

      So glad you're here!

  2. Thank you so much for your insight on the mustard seed passage! My husband with pancreatic cancer is on home hospice. I would pray for a night if sound sleep for him, and he would be restless all night. I'd prayer for his confusion to be lifted for a few hours and he'd have hallucinations and more confusion. I was feeling like a total failure in my prayers. Thanks be to God for your insight, for your teaching and for the clarity today. God bless you and strengthen you in your life and ministry. Thinking of you and your wife and dogs, and amazed at your supernatural, strength and perseverance and how it is a blessing to me and so many others.

    1. Karen, you are and have been in our prayers. I know how the restless nights are...I live them. And my wife understands the pain-induced hallucinations.

      I'm so glad that my words could help you; that's their highest purpose, to reach someone like you.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write! We truly appreciate you.

  3. Actually, I've heard that incidents of people doing things like lift cars in emergencies were possible because of a surge of adrenaline. It was caused by panic, which is really the opposite of faith. I think faith actually fills us with the peace that surpasses our understanding in the midst of our trials.

    1. Jan, that's a good point, but perhaps there is the seed of faith in panic. Somewhere in the heart of the person who lifts the car, there's the mustard seed that says, "I have to do this...I CAN do this!" instead of simply going to pieces, or running for help.

  4. Bravo Andrew! Sometimes the greatest measure of faith is as your second reply states. We pray for healing and the symptoms worsen.
    Do we still pray? Do we persevere in trusting God that the outcome will be to His glory?

    Those who have not walked your shoes are as blind as the Pharisees judging the blind man. "Who sinned, Lord? His mother? His father? He was born blind and that must have been someone's sin."
    Faith is the belief that God is still good when the situation is anything but.
    Thank you for saying this so clearly!!

    1. Tammy, thank you so much for this...and the funny thing is that the worse things get the more clearly I see that God is good because He's equipping me to deal with a tomorrow that will out-agony today.

      He didn't send this, nor allow it beyond the definition of creating a world in which free will is vital. But He'll sure coach me through this game.

      Thanks so much for being here!

  5. People mean well, at least most of them do. Faith, belief, trust are easy to talk about but have many levels to them, at least that is my experience. We can expound on subjects we know little about, and then we meet someone who says little but lives a life of incredible spiritual meat. I think quiet faith may have components of mustard seed faith.

    1. Norma, you're absolutely right...in the main, people don't mean any harm, and they think they're helping.

      I really like the way you put this: "I think quiet faith may have the components of mustard seed faith."

      Thanks so much for being here!

  6. Such a thoughtful post, Andrew. When we struggled with infertility, I was told I needed to have more faith and then we'd have a baby. This kind of thinking discounts the work God often wants to do in hearts. Sometimes it's in the not-giving of things that our faith becomes genuine. As we wrestle and struggle with God about things, He meets us and reveals more of Himself to us. Faith? Yes. We need it. Yes, mine is often smaller than a mustard seed. But, I firmly believe God is powerful enough to meet our needs (even those of a certain gunner in WW2) in the moment. Even when our faith is small.

    Well written, friend!

  7. What beautiful words of encouragement, Andrew! I've always said that God had me in a happy-face state of grace during my caregiving journey!

  8. Great post! I hate it when people tell me I don't have enough faith, like it is something I can choose to turn on and off. If I didn't have faith, I would have quit a long time ago. I would not have been praying on m knees and crying buckets of tears for my kids, for my husband, for people who need Christ in this wretched world. I have the measure of faith that Christ gives me. God doesn't heal everyone the way we think he should. He has his plans and purposes and knows the hearts of all. I am a caregiver and have seen many died despite my prayers. And yes, we all are flawed and distracted like you said. Bless you my friend.