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Tindell Baldwin »

Faith When The Answer Is No

My mom is the last person who should believe in medical miracles. 

For as long as I can remember my mom has been sick, spent her life searching for answers only to find smoke and mirrors. In my youth I believed she would be healed, at each turn I would think this doctor might have the right answer. When she went to mayo clinic in my twenties, I assumed they would leave with real concrete ideas of how to help my mom have a normal life. Doctors would always get close, as recently as this year the specialist she was seeing thought he found the hidden tumor that had caused years of pain, headaches, fevers, exhaustion, and the list goes on. Then on the final test before removal they concluded the tumor was inactive and had nothing to do with her illness. 

Each time it was like the white board got filled with ideas so close to solving the mystery but then it would get wiped clean and the journey would start again. I don’t know when I lost hope that my mom would be healed, probably somewhere in the last five years. It didn’t rock my faith or shake me to my core I just simply realized my mom would be sick my whole life. That sounds like a bleak observation but lots of peace came with this. I could just see the good in what I did have with my mom. I have lots of friends with healthy parents and strained relationships but I have a sick mom and a beautiful relationship. I would always choose the latter. She shows up for me in the very best way she can and somewhere along the way I realized that was enough and I was actually really lucky.

So yesterday when we were on the phone and talking about my grandfather’s upcoming surgery, his final surgery, to restore his lost eye sight I (embarrassingly) didn’t have a lot of hope. I of course would pray but before God ever answered I resigned myself to the same “no” that I had received my whole life about my mom. Then my mom said, “Tindell, God still performs miracles, I see it all the time.” This woman, this rock of a woman, had utter faith despite still being sick. Despite years of no in her own prayers of pleas she believed God still listens and answers miracle prayers. I thought about it the rest of the day, as I drove my sick son to the doctor, and answered work emails, and got my babies from school. I thought about it as I made dinner and watched the kids have a tea party. I thought about my mom and what kind of faith she must have to believe in God with such strength and conviction. My faith felt paper thin when I reflected on her. How weak I had been to equate my faith with answers. I woke up this morning and said the only prayer I could muster for my grandfather’s surgery, “I do believe God, help me overcome my unbelief.” I felt like the father begging Jesus to save his son, he knew he could but he didn’t know if he believed he would. (Mark 9:24)

Sometimes that is the only faith we can have, a faith that begs God to fill in the gaps of our unbelief and to perhaps see the good in his answer of “no”. My grandfather might not see until heaven and my mom might never know good health until she leaves this world. That is true but their response in the in-between is the most beautiful, awe inspiring, and faith building thing I experience. I tell my mom all the time, there are far healthier people with a worse outlook on life than you. She has bad days for sure, sad days sometimes come in waves, but no one that knows her wouldn’t call her a bright spot. 

Recently her best friend (and my aunt) went through breast cancer and chemo. My mom prayed the bold, and some would say ridiculous, prayer that my aunt wouldn’t lose her hair. It might sound silly but it was just one thing that could make this horrible thing a little less horrible. My aunt just finished her final round of chemo and still has her hair. The doctor finally admitted that she wasn’t going to lose it, an incredibly rare thing, but my mom wasn’t surprised. She had been praying a bold prayer to a loving God who answered her request, I want faith like that. 

We will all go through things that define our faith or perhaps how we see God. They might tell us one story of who he is or how he loves us but I have learned I have only scratched the surface of who God is. My experiences don’t add up to a full picture because my life is not the whole world. I don’t know why God hasn’t healed my mom but I know I am a better daughter because she is sick, I know I am more compassionate because she is sick, I know that I love better because of how I have experienced her life. That seems like a big price to pay for me to learn but I know countless other people who have been touched by my mom’s life not just because of who she is but because of how she lives despite the hard. I still wish she was healed, don’t get me wrong, but I still think God is good even though she isn’t. 

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  • Janice Wood - Thank you for your article. My son has progressive MS. He was diagnosed when he was 30 and he is 46 . . He isn’t able to feed himself or really do anything for himself. We are very sad but God has always been by our side. As you say, I am a better Christian because if his illness. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences. May God bless and strengthen you and
    your mother. Our dear friends were the Hunkapillers when they lived in Beech Creek Ky. Give them the Whitney family’s love.

    Janice Whitney WoodReplyCancel

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