Lord, help my unbelief

Lord, help my unbelief

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 are 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 #ThisSideofHeaven

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 a 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) is 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?

Matthew’s Story

Matthew’s Story

If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know my husband and I have three children, two being twins. Two weeks ago I wrote on a dream involving the pregnancy of my twins before I knew I was pregnant. You can read that here.

By the time my twins were a year old, I found out I was pregnant again (can you say surprised!). Because of the problems I had with the twins, I spent most of the first trimester in fear of losing this baby.

One day around week ten or eleven, I felt the calming voice of the Holy Spirit say, “You will not lose your baby and it will be a boy.”

Surprised, I was like, “I won’t lose him? And he’s a boy?” Nothing like having the God of the Universe speak the fear right out of you. Fear had no place in me now… I thought.

Later the doctor confirmed he was a boy. But it wasn’t long before fear crept back into my mind.

Another day, the Lord dropped a question into my mind: “Will you still love this baby if he is not perfect?

After catching my breath, I thought, Yes. I will still want and love this baby even if he has a birth defect, illness, or genetic issue.  The Lord was preparing me for something, what, I didn’tt know. But, I had peace.

I told my husband. We waited and prayed for this little boy, yet to be born.

Michael was born early at six pounds. He was completely healthy. Mike and I thanked the Lord for him.

About the time Michael was four months old, my twins were twenty months. Their development was behind because of their prematurity, and Alexandria had just started walking.

It scared Matthew to try the slightest step and he didn’t crawl well either. We noticed he moved his little legs awkwardly as he tried to take a few steps with our help.

We made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon soon after.

Mike and I thought he may need surgery on his hips since he wasn’t walking. But we were not at all prepared for what the doctor told us. Matthew had Cerebral Palsy (CP). Now, this is not at all a death sentence, but we never suspected our little boy would have long term problems.

Cerebral palsy results from damage to part of the brain controlling muscle tone. Matthew’s legs and other muscles were stiff (from the nerves over firing) making his muscles stay in a state of contraction. We noticed Matthew didn’t smile as quickly as Alexandria did, or roll over, or scoot on the floor. He was behind her in every way.

Matthew would not get worse but could get better with therapy.

By his second birthday we began physical and occupational therapy. Matthew got some braces for his legs and a cool little walker. He got good with the walker, too. Children use a walker differently than you see older adults use them. His went around his back and was open in front of him.

He would take off down a slight decline and raise his feet off the ground like he was on a ride.

Matthew had to have some painful surgeries, too. He had surgeries which stretched his muscles to lengthen them. See, his bones grew long, like they were supposed to, but his muscles remained contracted. That surgery took place when he was four. It was hard to see him in such pain.

It was hard to see kids ignore him, when he couldn’t keep up. Sometimes walking past families in McDonald’s, I’d hear children asking their parents, “What’s wrong with that boy”, as they pointed to Matthew. I’d see the mother mouth, “I’m sorry” when she knew I overheard. It didn’t bother me. Children are children, mine did the same thing.

It’s important to teach our children about things like these. For children to ask questions about what they don’t understand, is normal.

It’s our job as parents to teach our children compassion and understanding for those different from them.

Although, Matthew’s twin, Alexandria became very sensitive to children with any kind of special need. She sought to become friends with the rejected and different kids in school. As a college student coming home from a trip to communist country, she was heart-broken how the government treated their deformed, and special needs children and adults. She couldn’t imagine Matthew treated that way.

From the difficult beginnings of his life Matthew always had good self-esteem. We never held him back from trying something. I remember as a toddler, he wanted to get on a small rocking horse which sat on the floor. He would try again and again to pull his little leg over the “saddle” of the horse… until one day he got it. He sat on that horse so proud and rocked it!

That’s how our son is.

Matthew is twenty-four years old and he is very high functioning. He has been to Israel three times, graduated from college with a degree in International Relations, he speaks Arabic, and works as a financial analyst.

Nothing has held him back.

My husband had a hard time with Matthew’s diagnosis as first. He prayed and prayed the Lord would supernaturally heal him. Mike took him to a local faith-healer when Matthew was just four. I stayed home. Not that I didn’t want Matthew healed, it was just that the Lord had been so faithful to him!

My Father’s hand was on this little boy!

Our pastor asked us once if we would want Matthew healed if it meant Matthew might change from the compassionate, tender-hearted, God-loving boy he was. We both answered NO. We loved the little boy God had made him, disabilities and all.

God has a plan and purpose for every man, woman, and child born on this planet. Every child has value and is loved by the Father.

For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:13-14.