The morning of Joel’s last MRI, I woke up early and picked up breakfast for the family.  I was planning a sneaky breakfast so that the rest of us could eat while Joel was still asleep, (since he wasn’t allowed to eat until after the MRI.)  Several times the week before, the thought had occurred to me that things usually go wrong when we’re convinced we’re in the clear.  I knew that after MRIs every three weeks, and three months of no changes I was expecting this one to be just as uneventful, but that specific expectation was exactly what made me wonder if this MRI might catch us off-guard.  Gradually I began to expect that this MRI might be different from the others, but I just couldn’t even become nervous about it.  Lately, I’ve had very few emotions about any of Joel’s results.  They all feel so subject to God’s plan for Joel, that the days we get results have stopped being the big events they once were.


So as I drove around town picking up breakfast burritos, God brought to my heart the level of faith I now have for Joel.  I am completely convinced that Joel will live a long life on this earth.  I was not always convinced.  I was always hopeful.  I became expectant.  I had many months of just having a “it’s possible” kind of faith.  As in, “With God all things are possible.”  Although the statement, “It’s entirely possible that God could save Joel in a miraculous and amazing way” seemed a little weak to me, I always had the sense that God was really pleased with a faith that says, “it’s possible,” and my “it’s possible” stage of faith was unexpectedly joyful.  Something has shifted for me in the past few months, and I have a faith for Joel that really does not seem to be shaken by circumstances.  I remember in the past believing Joel would live, and yet when MRIs were bad I was devastated, and when Joel was declining I was shaken.  (I was frustrated that I was devastated and shaken, I wanted not to be effected by those things, but nevertheless I was.) I never stayed in that discouraged place, I always fought my way back to God’s heart for Joel, but I hated that I was able to be moved from the foundation of faith at all.  I wanted my faith to feel stronger, more powerful somehow.  As I was driving around, thinking about this, I realized that the faith I have now feels much more solid.  It is not more emotional than it was before.  It does not feel bigger or more powerful, but it’s just something solid now.  I really don’t know how to describe it.


I have had the experience before of praying for someone or something and having a great wave of faith come over me as I pray, and I  am passionately convinced that God is moving and the prayer will be answered.  It is exhilarating and exciting, but temporal.  Having faith that a girl will be healed from a headache on Sunday night was no guarantee that on Monday morning I would have any measure of faith for whatever I encountered.  That kind of faith feels like “grace” faith.  You are earnestly seeking God’s heart, you love Him, and are excited for him to move, and He responds by gracing you with a faith for that situation.  It is so exciting because it is so surprising, because it is outside of you, it is supernatural.  The faith I feel now is a different kind of faith.  It is not exciting, or passionate, it just is.  I know that sounds weak, saying I have a faith that just is, but then I remember I have a God who just is.  He describes Himself as “I am.”  He is.  That is all.  That “is” is not particularly flashy, emotional or powerful, but it is steady, isn’t it?  Solid.  Right now, my faith just “is.”  I know.  That’s all.  I know Joel will live.  I have no particular idea about how or when God will move on Joel’s behalf,( although mostly I’m convinced God already has and we’re just waiting to see the outcome of his action manifest with physical evidence.)


So, on Tuesday morning, with an MRI looming, I’m thinking about this unusually solid faith that is not exciting and feels very natural, and I realize that this is the faith that is built through endurance.  This is not “grace” faith, it was not gifted to me for a moment I needed it desperately.  It was built slowly and patiently by returning to God’s heart through every disappointment we encountered.  It was formed as I was shaken unexpectedly by circumstances I hated and, then waited for God to show me how he viewed the circumstances.  I think most of us hear from God in different ways.  I tend to hear from God as I process things, either writing or talking with friends, and over time, God begins to form in me His perspective.  It seemed like after every MRI, I would have a small word or picture on my heart, (I have not been as faithful as I wish I was about describing those here on Joel’s site, but perhaps some of them were just for me to hide in my own heart, to give me comfort and build my faith.)  As the faith I thought I had was shaken, and I waited to see what God would change in my heart, and then, shifted my view to match God’s view, this “endurance faith” was growing stronger and stronger.  “Grace” faith would come and go, but returning to God in every peak and valley was building a strong and lasting faith in me.


So, when we got the results that Joel had a new tumor and we were coming off the trial, I was certainly sad, but I was not scared.  The news carried no stress with it.  At one point our doctor was walking out of the room and turned back to say to us, “Of course, you guys don’t even believe us when we say these things anymore,”  I smiled and replied, “Ahh, now you’ve got us figured out.”  I was not scared, but I also was not overcome with a passionate, supernatural faith.  I was simply reminded of the steady place in me, filled with faith, built through endurance and it just “was.”  It did not rise up to meet this new challenge, but it also did not shrink back at news that seemed to contradict it. Faith that simply is, founded on a God who simply is.


I suspect these two tumor are not going to be the dramatic conclusion of Joel’s story. I imagine we will treat them with radiation, they will resolve, and we will wait for whatever comes next.  Some days, I just wish we would get the result that says, ‘Joel has twelve new tumors and there is nothing anyone can do,’ because then I know it would be time for God to reveal everything, but most days I’m just glad to have more sweet time with Joel, where we are not standing under the pressure of death encroaching against the life of God. I really do not get the sense that it is time now for a giant miracle, but I’ve been asking God for a small miracle, just a little surprise because He loves me.  I don’t pray any more for God to change his timing to match mine, and I just feel pretty strongly that right now is not His perfect timing, but I have felt like God is pleased for me to ask for a little miracle while I wait.  So that’s what I’m doing.  He is pleased, and that produces more joy in me than I know how to convey.


I hope this post wasn’t too out there for anyone, but it has just been a long time since I’ve poured my heart out like this.  There is a special kind of vulnerability when you put on display the things God is forming in your heart, especially the odd things, the things that seem to fit exactly how you think but might not resonate with anyone else.  Mostly, what I wanted to do was write about faith that forms unbelievably slowly through endurance, and while it does not feel powerful it carries a strength that can not be shaken.


James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


There are 3 comments for this post.

  1. Dianne on July 5, 2013 2:09 pm

    I understand completely about your explanation of the God kind of faith. The I AM, the Be Still and Know that I AM faith. You described it beautifully. The deeper one goes into Him the more His Spirit rules and the less your flesh (emotions) seem to surface. That is an incredible thing but yet strange, too. One really begins to feel “different.” One thing I wondered is this: Did He give you the assurance that Joel will survive? Reason I ask is because I was drawn to you because I was in a very similar situation with my own mother and a terrible, agressive form of cancer. I did not want her to die from that and so stood in the midst of every frightening storm. I saw the hand of God mercifully guide her and faithfully give her tremendous care but I wanted her healed so as to stop the brutal treatments. Toward the end, it was only I standing for her deliverance–so much so that I was not at her bedside the afternoon He took her home. I must tell you that my faith was not as confident as yours for it was very much shaken in the end yet I remained confident because all else had failed that it would now be time for Him to move. Yet, it did not turn out the way I had expected. The prognosis for her was 2-3 years yet she lived 5 which was unbelievable. So I was wondering how you know that Joel is going to live. By the way, I am not sad that my Mother went home just perplexed and looking for some answers.

  2. Cathy on July 9, 2013 10:26 pm

    I do understand what you are saying. It sounds like you have accepted the outcome God has planned. Not knowing exactly what it is – but accepting it any way. Faith that His plan is best even though we can’t see it. That you are trusting Him more with each new day and each new test. That you will not allow your emotions to rule – that you will trust in God to do His mighty work – in His time – as He sees fit. And if He decides to take Joel home – there will be plenty of time to deal with that IF it happens. That you have today, and that is all you are guaranteed – that’s all we are guaranteed. It’s like there is no use worrying or crying over something that might not happen anyway; wasted time you could use to enjoy your children and husband by living in the here and now, and turning it all over to Him. I find your journey and story giving me strength. For you see, my child, by choice, without even realizing it, has chosen eternal death… and there is nothing I can do about it. Oh, I’ve tried to explain to her. But being 27 she is her own person, well past the age for me to be able to influence her. So in a way my situation is like yours. I’ve turned her over to the Lord. but I’m not giving up that somehow, someway, she will come to know the truth and accept Christ as her savior. Until then I pray for my daughter, Breann, and I also will pray for your son, Joel. And I pray for you to stay strong, keep your faith, keep your focus. And always remember, it’s okay to cry. Tears don’t mean weak faith – they just mean you love – and that you are human. God Bless.

  3. Nadine on July 21, 2013 11:54 am

    Thank you so much for this post and for sharing your heart. It is such a blessing and exactly what I needed to read tonight. God is So faithful! 🙂 I have also been waiting for a miracle for 2 years now and I can totally relate to your explanation of enduring faith that just is. For a while I was just waiting for the situation to pass, waiting for the miracle with burst of faith, but as I ran back to God after each “set back” my faith grew stronger. Now I’m not waiting anymore, I’m living. My faith is not based on what I see, but what I know. And yes it’s a totally uneventful “just is” 😉 but at the same time it’s solid and not shaken by daily happenings. Today I’m not waiting, I’m knowing that my miracle is brewing in the spiritual realm, waiting to manifest at God’s time. His time is not my time, but I’m not rushed anymore, because i already have it. Faith is the evidence of things hope for, the conviction of the things not seen. Thank you for the encouragement of enduring faith!:) You are a blessing! Much love x

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