One of the reasons I believe God prompted me to write Hope When Life Unravels is so that my family will be able to hold onto the many lessons He taught us along the way. As with any book, however, the burden of every author is to speak as concisely as possible. Thus, every memory did not make it into the pages of my manuscript and, unfortunately, a number of spiritual realizations had to be omitted as well. Below are a few more insights that neither time nor space permitted me to share. If you would like to read part one of this post, click here.
- Faith does not give us the power to eliminate trials, but to endure them instead. The health and prosperity gospel has always been offensive to me, but more deeply so after battling this cancer as a family. I do not mean to say that God cannot or does not heal at times. The notion, however, that all sickness can be removed by faith is patently false. Sometimes God develops us through trials rather than rescuing us from them. I have no doubt that Carson will be a better man because of what he faced. Others also benefited from the pain he endured. Our family grew in the Lord; several friends trusted Christ as their Savior; and a number of St. Jude families dared to believe they could beat cancer too as they observed Carson’s milestones.
- Fatherhood matters. Why did God make me sick, Daddy? The question took my breath away. His big blue eyes peered over his medical mask and the plane engine hummed beneath us. My son was searching for answers, trying to make sense of the God who loved him and the trial that wrecked his life of innocence. That was just one of many moments where Carson looked to me for reassurance and stability. Children need an active, spiritual father to guide them through life. Motherhood is equally important, to be sure, but fathers play a unique role in the spiritual development and nurture of their kids. Because God expects husbands and fathers to lead their families, refusing to do so creates a damaging vacuum in the home. Teaching my children to love and trust God at all times is my responsibility. I must connect with them. They need my example. I should encourage them while also holding them accountable. I cannot delegate this sacred duty (Deut. 6:5-7). Though I would like to tell you this came natural for me, I cannot. Despite my view that Carson should be a better kid because of his dad, in reality, I am a much better father because of him. Battling leukemia left no room for my laziness; and I’m grateful.
- Life is not about me, or even the people I love.
Though I frequently wonder what God most wanted to teach us through Carson’s sickness, I realize this trial may not have been primarily about the Dooley family. Throughout the three-year journey, I continually reminded Carson that God had a plan for his sickness even if we didn’t know what it was and even if it did not relate directly to us. With child-like faith, he accepted my assurance as true. Amazingly, I do not remember one instance when Carson complained about his illness. Perhaps those incidents are merely lost in the fog of our darkest moments, but I do not recall them. Instinctively, he seemed to know that more was at stake than the outcome of his suffering.
The same is true for you.
How can I be so sure? The story of Job is often a source of strength for those facing hardship, but tucked behind the drama of the opening chapters is a powerful truth to help us face tragedy with a different perspective. After Satan mocked the notion that people worship God for who He is rather than what He does for them the Lord presented Job as a test case. The real focus of the scene, however, is the glory of God rather than the character of His servant. Despite our tendency to look insatiably for the cause and effect behind every trial we face, sometimes we are mere background characters in much bigger story. Yes, we can learn important life lessons during seasons of pain, but even then, the promotion of divine glory is often the main agenda.