Aug 062013 3 Responses

Never Confuse Acceptance for an Absence of Faith

Acceptance of a sovereign plan is a sign of faith, yet it is often confused for an absence of faith.

Several years ago an acquaintance was dying of cancer. I didn’t know him well, but our lives intersected on occasion. Soon after the final diagnosis came and the word “terminal” was used, I ran into him.

We had an amazing visit. He talked about his life. His accomplishments. His failures. He spoke of his fears of death and his hopes of heaven. It was a talk I will forever cherish.

Yet what struck me about the talk is that he had it with me.

It was the kind of talk which should be saved for close friends, children, or a spouse. But he had the talk with me because his close friends, children, and spouse were not willing to have the conversation.

They called it faith; it was actually denial.

Unable to accept the probable outcome and prepare for what was to come, they lived in denial and claimed it be faith. They made their opinions clear when they often repeated:

  • “We won’t accept what the doctor said.”
  • “We agree it will be different.”
  • “We won’t even talk about death.”

They made their opinions clear and their loved one suffered because of it.

Wanting to fully share his journey with those he loved most, he wasn’t allowed. When he broached the topic of death, he was shushed. When he started to confess his fear, he was told not to go there. When he wanted just to cry, his tears were quickly wiped away.

The very people with which he wanted to share his journey prevented him from doing so.

Without them, he was left with me. And how lucky I was.

What I saw was a man of tremendous faith. He knew God could do amazing things. He prayed for what he wanted to happen. But he accepted what God gave him. He was quick to show both fear and faith. He confessed both doubt and trust. In humility, he spoke to another man in a way he likely never had.

The prospects of death had brought a tremendous gift—humility and transparency. They created an intimacy between two near strangers.

Years later as my grandparents aged, I was quick to find them alone so I could ask all the questions I wanted to ask.

  • “Are you afraid to die?”
  • “What do you regret?”
  • “What is your greatest fear?”

What I found was the couple who never spoke about such things were quick to open up about their thoughts, feelings, and fears. They were quick to speak about them when they realized they had the safety to do so.

My acquaintance who died many years ago had a good family. They were well-meaning. But they missed out on a great chance to learn from their father, grandfather, husband, and friend as he made his last journey.

They missed out because they confused denial for faith and acceptance for a lack of faith.

I have no doubt that God can do amazing things (for more watch: What Does the Bible Say about Healing?). Yet I believe most of the time, the faithful response to life is accepting when our prayers are unanswered and courageously walking the road of suffering with a deep trust in the sovereign plan of God.

Accepting what God has sent your way is not an absence of faith. It might just be the evidence of genuine faith.

For more, read: Healing, Faith, Sickness and the Bible

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3 Responses to Never Confuse Acceptance for an Absence of Faith
  1. Marshall Newcity Reply

    My greatest fear is not dying. It is not being the father or husband God intended for me to be.

  2. Robert Reply

    We do harm when we attach healing to faith. How many ill people have believed their friends’ well-meaning lie to the point they became discouraged?

  3. PB Reply

    What I’ve learned from my own personal experience is that everyone has their own way of dealing with a terminal diagnosis. I made the mistake early on believing that since I wanted to talk about anything and everything about the past, present and future that my husband would also. I assumed he wanted to know everything he could about his illness and every medical option out there. For the past few years, I’ve monitored him closely looking for any hint of the disease returning and almost panicking to get him in to be scanned and checked by the doctor, only to find out no it’s not a reoccurrence. Yay! This last time he sat me down and said “stop, please. I know what the cancer felt like and I’ll know when it’s back.” As hard as it was, I knew I had to follow his lead. He has chosen not to study his cancer like I have. For him, the journey is easier taking it as it comes. No awareness of what’s next. He’s my hero and the love of my life and I will respect his wishes. So I guess what I’m trying to say is support comes in many different ways depending on the person. Regardless what form it is…support means everything.

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