Thursday, January 19, 2012
God, do you validate?
To validate, to give legal force or official confirmation to; declare legally valid.
I know it has been a while since Ginger and I have written. I guess that is a sign our life is getting back to "normal." So busy you don't have time to write! However, this past week a reporter from USA Today interviewed Ginger and I for an article about our family. During the interview he asked me "What was the one thing you learned during your trial?" I thought about his question a lot since then and at church this past Sunday this blog came to me.
I think we all have a desire to know what we believe is true; we all want to have our faith validated. But I think we keep this need buried deep in our subconscious for fear it is true, that maybe just maybe what we believe is wrong. I think Christians also have this fear, what if God does not exist, what if Christ was just a man? So we seek validation of our faith. Normally we find our validation in life’s blessings. It seems logical we validate God when we get what we want. I’m not saying God does not bless us, far from that. I count my blessings everyday when I see Ginger and the kids. What I’m saying is if the only way you validate God is when life is going good then you will miss a chance to truly know God.
I guess when life’s trials come your way you can get mad at God, you can feel cheated by God, you can feel forgotten by God, you can be left in a state of confusion as you try to connect the dots of what you expected God to do and what is happening. I guess having gone through 4 years and 4 months of cancer with Andrea I learned God could not be defined by what was happening. I could not have prayed harder, believed more, wanted something more then I wanted Andrea to be healed. I always imagined he great testimony when she was healed. Oh how God was going to use her after He healed her. But time and time again our prayers went unanswered. Unanswered in how we wanted them answered. So it came down to this, was God true? Was He real or was I going to throw away all I had professed when life was going the way I wanted? Or was he bigger then my circumstances? Was Christ’s death about more then getting what I wanted? What was His purpose in my life? When I opened my mind to a truly sovereign God I found validation of my God in the strangest of places, the ICU, as I watched helplessly as my wife laid her life her life down. She had the greatest faith I had ever witnessed; yet she did not doubt when cancer’s gripped proved too tight.
For me it was the trial that eroded everything in my life that I had trusted in until one day it was just God and I sitting at a table. It was if He was looking into my eyes and asking me “Well Jim, what now, with all of life’s distraction removed, do you believe, do you still trust me?
You see there was a certain amount of faith I had placed in doctors and medicine. They offered confidence with all their education. Why do you think they hang their diploma on the wall? It is always behind the doctor’s chair. I think that is so you can see it when he tells you your wife has cancer. Then there are all the machines of our advanced 21st century society. MRIs. CT scans, tests after test that reveled the enemy to us. But in the end that is all they could do, show me what we were fighting where the cancer was. So close I could touch it on the screen, yet it was defiant to the end. All man’s knowledge failed us in stopping that black spot on the x-ray from taking my wife. But the one thing cancer never took was Andrea’s faith in God and I witnessed what it meant to believe. To believe because it is true, independent of our desires, and independent of our expectations He is truth. He is sovereign.
In the end God did not let me down, He reveled Himself to me. I just had to be willing to see Him thru my greatest fear, losing my wife. It was a process for me to get to that point, but when I did, I knew. God was validated and Andrea left me the greatest gift she could have given, an example of unwavering faith. I knew I was not alone at the loneliest time of my life.
At 1225 on Dec 17th 2007 I told the doctors it was time to remove Andrea from the ventilator. I remember every detail of that day, I remember calling friends and family, I remember the fear in my son’s eyes, I remember my struggle of giving up on my wife. I had been by her side every step of this fight, her advocate at every doctor’s visit. I held her when she hurt. I cleaned up her vomit when the chemo took it toll. I shaved her head when her hair fell out. I prayed with her every night, and through many nights when she could not sleep. And now I had to let her go and I remember that moment. But as I think back I also remember the doctors and nurses left us alone in the end, just me and my two boys in the room. No longer did the monitors display all the data about Andrea. All that technology that once was a testament to man’s ability suddenly were blank, and I’m sure to the ICU staff we seemed so alone. But I knew different, I knew God was with us as He welcomed His daughter home. I was not alone, I given up on placing my hope in man, doctors and machines. God had been validated in my life not by what I saw or by getting what I wanted but by the opposite, by letting go of all I wanted. Then I saw His love for me in ways I could have never seen or felt if I only looked for God in a blessing.
My question to you is this; Where is your hope? Where is your faith? Is it only in what you have or what you get? Where do you seek validation? I offer this thought don’t forget to look in your trials because you might be surprised what you find when you allow yourself to let go of what you want and allow God to meet you in your pain. Trust me I understand how dark the night can be and how lonely life can feel when you lose it all. I have been in that storm you are facing and I did not wait for it to end to find God, strangely I found him in the mist of the storm. When the waves were crashing over me and I was struggling for every breath struggling to make it. Not to the next month or the next day but at times hoping to make it to the next minute. He is there with you, His words are truth, and His promises are real.
There was a time I was so exhausted from struggling against what was happening in my life until one day I had no more strength in me and that is when God said, "Finally you are ready to listen." This is what I wrote that day, a day in the middle of the storm a time when I had no idea which way was up, where I was going or how I was getting there. It was dark and I was lost in my pain.
No voice is as loud as one spoken in total silence
No light is as bright as one shown in total darkness.
My prayer is that those who are in total darkness and total silence is you will hear His whisper and see His light. It may be faint and dim but I promise He is there and you will find validation of God in place you never thought possible.
Posted by Jim Ravella