Uncertain Days

From James:

So Young and I have a lot of the same fears, but their order of importance is different for the two of us. She fears blindness, baldness, and death (of her body, not her soul), in that order. I am afraid she will die, not recover her sight, or develop other impairments more serious than those she has now, in that order. (I’m sad for her about the hair loss thing, but I think we can work around it.) A situation like this brings the notions of loss and uncertainty to the forefront. How do we respond?

Well, we respond by “being strong,”  but it doesn’t always work. We hear that a lot. People say, “Be strong for So Young.” Also, So Young wants to put on a strong face, and often she is remarkably strong. It’s real and unquestionably part of God’s Spirit and her character. But pray for her, because although recent news has been positive, it causes her a lot of sadness to think she will have to live with this thing and that her vision might not get better. It breaks her heart to think she might not see the girls again. She tries to “stay positive” a lot of the time, but she can’t all the time, and she is justifiably mourning some losses right now.

We also respond by seeking certainty. I have become obsessed with statistics about survivability, which tell us nothing about So Young’s case or what God’s plan is. Still, they almost (but not quite) give me a sense of certainty that I long for, when frankly there is no certainty for any of us, any of the time.

I guess I am saying that all of us, not just So Young and I, live with uncertainties every day, some of them small, some of them profound. We all face the uncertainty of death and uncertainties in our circumstances. Uncertainties give rise to fear. Where is there room for hope?

While So Young and I are driving to Baltimore, it is like going to church. I don’t mean that Johns Hopkins is like a church. I mean that getting into our car and sitting there for hours is like being at a church service. We take turns praying out loud. (One big miracle is that I make it to Baltimore with my eyes closed for half the trip.) We preach to each other and fall asleep while the other person is talking. But mostly we sing songs, and invariably they are the kind you hear at church — praise songs and hymns. One song in particular says exactly everything we believe about this life, about uncertainty, fear, and hope. It’s called “Because He Lives,” and our dear friends Amanda and Ashton recorded it for us. So Young says that it perfectly captures our hope in the midst of fear and uncertainty: our hope for the past, the present, and the future. One line in particular speaks to us:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel to pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He lives!

(Here is a link to the song. You have to listen to it. It is profoundly beautiful.)

The “He” in that last line is Jesus. He is the reason we can face uncertainty in this life. Even though we are afraid, He gives us hope. If we believe in him, our past is forgiven, our present is strengthened, and our future is assured. Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

God is near.

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7 Responses

  1. James, your writing is always touching and I’m so appreciative that you are keeping us abreast of what’s going on with So Young and your journey with her. You are both so inspiring, I cannot say it enough. I will continue to pray for her, for you, and for your family!

  2. Both of you give us strength and I thank you for that. I will keep praying for you.

  3. Dear James and So Young,

    Thank you for being so honest and REAL in this new journey for your family. We journey with you as you face all the unpredictable feelings and thoughts of mourning, joys,laughter, anger, confusion, frustration, surrender and tears. We love your family for who you are and keeping you all in prayer daily.

    W/ much love,
    Sandy

  4. Sometimes, the bravest thing there is, is to be weak and vulnerable in front of someone. That takes a different kind of strength. Don’t you think God could have come down as some sort of superhero and kicked our butts into submission and order if He wanted to? But He didn’t. He came down as an infant who couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t feed himself, couldn’t walk, couldn’t tell his mom what he needed except in the way that all babies do. He made himself completely weak. He was willing to put up with that complete vulnerability and humility, because of how much He loved us.

    Now I’m not advocating not being strong, of course. That’s just silly. But you and I both know, I think, that sometimes it’s in our weakest moments that love and faith are strongest. There’s something comforting about knowing that we will be carried in those moments we’re not strong enough to walk. So it’s ok to let us carry you once in a while. It’s what we’re here for. Emmanuel doesn’t mean “God over there hanging out helping some other folks in an abstract sort of way.” It means God WITH US. With. Us. Us, Rubes. Us, James. You and me. Right here, right now.

    Love love love.

  5. Dear James ad So Young,

    I want to wrap my arms are you both and hold you and make this all go away…I know I speak the sentiment of many. I cannot express how much your posts mean to me. I hope that I can come to see you after the holidays. I am not sure when…it depends on your schedule and my schedule. The most beautiful marriage is represented by you both as you give yourselves to Christ, each other, and your beautiful girls. We know Christ can heal, but I cannot imagine the difficulty in wondering what His will is…is it to call the many lives you have touched and many others to bow before Him in virtual unison to hold up So Young, James, Shannon, Lindsey, and Audrey Kate in prayer…Our Father does like to bring His children together. Christina, Elizabeth, Joshua, and I love you. We feel helpless. Please know that you are daily, several times per day, in my and many others prayers.

    Love, Cynthis

  6. James and So Young,

    i work in an office with a couple of ladies who have been thru quite a bit, much like what you are going thru. and the one thing i see daily, isn’t the strength that they exhibited, but the positive outlook. i think you have that more than you realize. comes from faith i think. j-man and i will continue to pray. thru the eyes of a child…. j wanted to pray that so young wouldn’t fall when she runs. i read the blog to him and that is where he focused. we will continue to pray for all of you thru this.

    kara and j-man

  7. James and So Young-

    I continue to be encouraged by your blog and I wanted to share the subject from my church service yesterday.

    My Pastor preached about “Faith” and the subject was “Faith will control doubt.” She read from Mark, Chp. 11, verses 20-24. The last verse says… “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

    We continue to keep you all lifted in prayer and thanking God for the victory- we can’t see it yet, but I believe its coming. What a great testimony So Young will have…

    Kentra Sherman and Alex Mills

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