Have you ever had a very sick child?
Or maybe you found out your child would be diabetic, deaf, blind, autistic, or have some type of disability.
Since my son was premature, he didn’t hit developmental milestones on time. He was taking his time crawling; he rolled everywhere he wanted to go.
We held his hands while helping him stand or take a few steps. But he did not want to do that. He cried and clung to us terrified we would let go of him. After a while of this, and taking him to our doctor for regular checkups, our doctor recommended an orthopedist.
Matthew was nearly two years old when he saw Dr. Schrader.
After being in his office for three minutes, Dr. Schrader told us, “I’m pretty sure I know what’s wrong, but let me do some x-rays first.”
He came back to the room with the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
This diagnosis shocked us and left us in disbelief. I knew of Cerebral Palsy, but my husband did not know what this meant. He immediately thought it was like Muscular Dystrophy, which can mean death at a fairly young age.
The doctor assured us Matthew would get no worse. He would need physical and occupational therapy but would be fine.
Still, it was hard to see our son barely able to walk at four years old, and needing extremely painful surgery. It killed me. He recovered well but used a tiny walker for two years or so, and needed multiple surgeries.
My husband didn’t take it well. We sought prayer for healing many times; even taking him to a local faith healer. We wanted Matthew to have a “normal” life.
Mike and I wondered what God was doing, and why He allowed this. I struggled with my faith at times as well.
Mark 9:14-29 tells us of a story of a man struggling with his faith.
The disciples could not cast out the demon in his son, so he took it up with Jesus. The father asked Jesus,
“If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love Jesus’ answer…”If I can?”
The father cried out, “I believe; Lord help my unbelief!”
What does this mean? I have heard many explanations about it and have attempted to explain it myself.
I read a devotional on this by Chaim Bentorah from Biblical Hebrew Studies. He explains that a certain Aramaic (another Semitic language) word for faith or believe (there is more than one) refers to a mother nursing her baby. There is an underlying meaning, he explained:
Faith or belief in the Semitic mindset is a bonding, an expression of love, honor and respect. We tell people in our Western culture that they must believe, like it is a great effort. They must grit their teeth, clutch their fist and like the child in “Miracle on 34th Street” keep repeating over and over: “I believe, I believe.” Yet hayaman (belief, faith) is as natural as a mother nursing her baby. The baby looking up into its mother’s eyes and the mother looking into her child’s face shows pure love, commitment, and bonding. Nothing is forced, disciplined, it just happens.https://www.chaimbentorah.com/2013/01/devotional-mark-924/
We can imagine the father in Mark’s story having plans for his son’s future just as we do for our children. I often thought about Matthew’s life when he was an infant–who he would grow up to be, do, and what sports he may play.
When this father said, “Help my unbelief,” the Aramaic word for unbelief correlates with “little faith” more than lack of faith.
Chaim goes on to say this father loved his son and he loved Jesus, but he needed his love in the proper order. We know we need to love Jesus more than anything, but when your child, spouse, or other loved one needs healing, it’s hard to think of anything else.
Chaim explains this even more:
His love at that moment for his son was greater than his love for Jesus, but what little love he had for Jesus he asked that Jesus accept that as its priority. The man was literally saying: “I want to love you more than my son, but to be honest, that is a little hard right now, accept what love I can give you.”
How did Jesus respond to this..?
Jesus responded by healing the man’s son.
He is so good! When we struggle with unbelief or putting our love for God in the right order, He understands!
He understood how much we wanted Matthew healed. He understands the love of a parent for their child…God knows the love of a child as well as we do.
When we struggle with our faith, sometimes it’s not that we don’t love Jesus, it’s just that we need our love put in the proper order. Jesus can help with that. He doesn’t hold back healing or His love because we struggle.
Jesus doesn’t hold back healing or His love because we struggle. #disablities #specialneeds #ThisSideofHeavenTweet
God did not heal Matthew all at once. He had other issues, medications, and surgeries until he was seventeen. But God loves us and always knew our needs. He has never stopped providing for us or our children.
Matthew still has some minor difficulties. Our pastor at that time, asked us if complete healing meant Matthew’s personality, love for God, and his gentle spirit changed, would we still want it?
Our answer was NO.
Matthew’s struggles (and ours) are creating us to be who God wants us to be. Matthew’s love for the Lord is evident to all who know him. He has never felt sorry for himself or wanted pity from others. He is stronger than most people I know.
We wouldn’t want it any other way.
In what ways do you need help putting your love for Jesus in the proper priority?
We can’t always know God’s plans fully. We can choose to trust Him through it all. I haven’t yet had the honor of meeting your and Mr. Mike’s children. On that day, I am certain that all the love you and your husband have poured into them will be evident. God’s blessings; and thank you for this important lesson ma’am.
Thank you, J.D. I hope they do get to meet you someday, I know they will like you.
As much as we would love to know God’s plans for us, we would not be able to understand them. We have to trust He knows best.
What we want for our children usually involves health, safety and a sense of normalcy from our prospective. We want our kids to be more and have more than we had. Why would we think God’s perspectives line up with ours? If we do a self evaluation, each of us would certainly say we are not perfect but we want our kids to be. That’s an okay goal, but God loves each of us despite our imperfections. In fact He often uses them to take us where He wants us to go. I pray from each of my children everyday. Not that they would be normal, but that they would grow to have a deeper desire to increase their faith in God. Grow our children from little faith to a great faith! ~ Ben C.
Beautiful story about Matthew. Especially, hearing about his love for God and his unique personality. I did a Bible study once where this story in Mark 9 was discussed. One thing I remember as the takeaway is that our belief after salvation can continue to grow in the Lord. Which is what you so powerfully expressed here. And the best part is the Lord helps us with it when we call out to Him!
Your family is a walking testimony of God’s goodness. Though not defined as the world’s, it’s a richer, and sweeter goodness that not only affects your family but everyone who knows you (and reads your blog!) Thank you for sharing your story, Stephanie. What a blessing! God bless Matthew.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am thankful the Lord chooses to use us in all our brokenness for His good.
Thank you, Stephanie, for trusting God with your son Matthew, and for remaining faithful to Him. Thank you also for explaining how nurturing love ties in with belief. Excellent thoughts, sister. Memorable.
What a precious story honoring your son as well as the Lord. You also taught me a new lesson about nurturing love. God has blessed you in deep ways, sister, and your lessons at His knees have enriched your faith in ways unimaginable. God bless you as you journey through life holding the Master’s hand. xoxo
Thank you, Karen! It’s been hard at time, like most people, we all have different struggles. The Lord is faithful.
A beautiful story, Stephanie. I loved, “He (Jesus) doesn’t hold back healing or His love because we struggle.” I’m thankful Jesus doesn’t hold back His blessings.