We often say we have faith in people, in God, in ourselves. It sounds so benign and somewhat cliche to say, “I have faith that everything will work out.” When I sent my daughter overseas, I had “faith” she would be safe, that God would watch out for her and protect her; she would behave well, perform well, and have an amazing experience.
Two days into the trip, she became sick. Really sick. Unexplainable symptoms came suddenly, rendering her helpless and afraid and completely dependent upon those around her. The midnight phone call that every parent dreads came. “There is an emergency with your daughter. We don’t know what to do. We are going to take her to the hospital in Beijing.”
This began my three day conversation with God. “Faith” seems too simple a word to describe my complete dependance on Him for those few days. Nothing could be explained, competent medical care could not be obtained, she could not leave and I could not join her. This was a problem that I could not solve, and I was painfully aware of it. God was in charge, He had the answers, and I knew He would help my husband and I make decisions and help those who were with her make decisions to restore her to health and bring her home safely.
Sometimes the experiences we expect and have faith in don’t quite materialize…sometimes they become what we need instead. I can’t really say my faith was tested, because it never occurred to me to give up faith or hope or my expectation that God would take care of her. On the contrary, when things became difficult my expectations became greater and my requests more insistent. I called upon my family, friends, and even acquaintances to pray for her, connect me with translators, doctors, and information. I sat up at night by the phone waiting for updates. I called upon the powers of Heaven to hear our cries and make my daughter well.
Our cries were heard, and she became well and enjoyed the rest of her trip. As I write this she lay upstairs, sleeping off the jet-lag, strange beds, weird food, toxic pollution, and exhausing schedule. Her faith, without a doubt, has been strengthened. She has recognized her own strength, felt the love of those around her, and most of all, acknowledged the power of God in her life.
What if she hadn’t returned home safely? Would I still have faith? I’d like to think that I would. I hope I never find out. C.S. Lewis said,
“The work of devils and of darkness is never more certain to be defeated than when men or women, not finding it easy or pleasant but still determined to do the Father’s will, look out upon their lives from which it may seem every trace of God has vanished, and asking why they have been so forsaken, still bow their heads and obey.”
There is something personally powerful about continuing in faith even when we question the necessity of certain circumstances in our lives. I’ve seen many examples of people in my life who have done this and emerged strong despite dissappointment and difficulty. Yes, I believe that God is omniscient, and therefore I believe that he really knows what experiences we must have to grow, even if those experiences are painful and deny us our expectations. Faith in God as an omniscient and loving Father helps us align our expectations with Him. Understanding that trial is a part of the process that brings us closer to Heaven. We only see a pixel at a time in our lives, but God sees it all, and he sees what we can become if we follow him and continue to have faith no matter what. Becca’s trip may not have been what we expected, but in the larger scheme I couldn’t have asked for a better experience spiritually for her. I’m grateful she’s home and safe, and I look forward to being an anxious spectator to more of her amazing experiences.