Saturday, March 5, 2016

On Faith, Fear, and Friends Held Dear

Elizabeth Stone once said, "Making the decision to have a child…is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." How true these words are, for there is no vulnerability quite like that of being a parent.

Today I learned that the son of a dear friend has been diagnosed with stage IV adrenocortical carcinoma. This is a rare form of cancer with a poor record for survival, and I am having a visceral reaction to the news. A good portion of my angst is rooted in love and compassion, of course, but I'm also aware of a smaller yet powerful portion of personal fear. This wonderful young man grew up with my own children, and I am suddenly reminded that life offers us what it will, and none are immune to the repercussions.

I often find myself wishing these "reminders" would never come around, even though I understand their importance in the grand scheme of things. Each time they do present themselves (in my own family or in the families of others), I know with everything in me that faith is the best and most healing response. Calling upon the Lord and trusting that His plan is a better one than any we might devise is pretty much the only way to move through struggles and challenges with any degree of peace and even happiness. Thankfully, my friend's family is fully cognizant of this, and so is her courageous son. He is determined to do everything within his power to be cured, relying upon the Lord for the rest. His goal is to love his wife and continue to raise their five children to adulthood; and he will, God willing. But that's the rub, isn't it? God must be willing.

The simple truth is that having the faith to be healed also means having the faith not to be healed. And that's where the fear comes in. Experience has taught me that prayers for physical healing are not always answered in the affirmative. (Happily, it has also taught me that prayers for spiritual healing always are.) My prayer for my friend is that her son will be made whole, and I am joining my faith with hers. If that is God's plan, it will happen…and I am hoping against hope that it is. In fact, I intend to keep petitioning Him for that result until such time as His will is made known. I know He will listen to the pleadings of my heart and hers with a compassionate ear. I also know that whatever He brings to pass will be the right outcome. My friend knows that, too.

Knowing that doesn't necessarily keep the fear away. Submitting to the Lord in all things can be hard, especially when it comes to the survival of those we love. Fear will always come knocking…even for the most faithful...and that's okay. We can forgive ourselves for not being perfect and resolve once again to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding. God knows the end from the beginning; surely we can trust Him to get it right. As the apostle Paul said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me" (Philippians 4:10-13). I know this to be true, even if I don't always enjoy the process.

The following is a poem I wrote years ago, while in the midst of a health crisis of my own. I thought I understood then that acceptance was a necessary component of faith without fear, but apparently I am one who needs frequent refresher courses. Perhaps I am not alone in that...

©2003 Susan Noyes Anderson

If ever earth and sky should spin away
and love and truth lie crumbled at your feet,
when all around and in you cries defeat
and hope and faith seem merely words to say––

Say nothing; hear Him whisper to your soul:
"My peace lies in acceptance, not control."

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your heart and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7

Sending love to my friend and praying earnestly for the healing we all hope for...


Karen Mortensen said...

Love the poem and scripture. So sorry to hear about your friend's son.

jen said...

The lesson I'm learning over and over right now is acceptance vs. control. It's my Achilles heel.

Gail said...

The scripture I needed. You seem to have a knack for that.

My prayers are added.

Granny Sue said...

Beautifully said, Susan. The poem is word-perfect.

I hope the storms are not causing you any problems. I heard on the news that the west coast was in for some bad weather.

Stef said...

I love this! This is truly mourning with those who mourn. I appreciate that some of the trial in our friends can strengthen our faith as we watch them face their trials. What a hard thing to face. I love your poem at the end. It speaks to the trial that I am going through right now. Thanks for sharing this post.

Leovi - La FotografĂ­a Efectista Abstracta said...

Exquisite poem, fear is a great enemy but is not invincible !!

carol l mckenna said...

Beautiful photo and post ~ and wonderful poem you wrote ~ we have so little control over life's issues ~ we can only control out 'attitude' toward and then at times even that can be difficult ~ praying for your friend's son ~ xox

Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

LeAnn said...

I really loved this post because it is all so true. Faith, fear and acceptance of God's will is a hard one. It is so true that one can have faith but fear does enter the picture and we have to deal with that one. Accepting God's will is the hard part for sure. Finding peace in the situation is always a need and prayer is the life line.. Right now we have a counselor in our Stake Preisdency that was recently diagnosed with ALS. He says he is totally at peace but not looking forward to what he will go through to reach the end. Having faith and a positive attitude is so needed in a struggle like this one. Sending prayers on this one~ Love and hugs!

Grandma Honey said...

This is the hardest part of life. Especially when it's a young parent with needy little growing children. There are a few things that stand out to me that you said: "I know He will listen to the pleadings of my heart and hers with a compassionate ear." and "Fear will always come knocking, even with the most faithful, and that's okay." and "God knows the ending from the beginning; surely we can trust Him to get it right." I think the hardest one for me is the one you said in your poem: "My peace lies in acceptance, not control."

This one has really hit close to your heart. I am so sorry Sue. I hope you can keep us posted.

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