Recently I was talking with one of the thought leaders in adoption and orphan advocacy. She is currently putting together a keynote presentation for hopeful parents who have waited through extraordinary delays to bring children home via adoption. My friend is concerned about the effect that these delays are having. “There are families that are losing faith,” she told me.
My mind went back to my earlier days of a transition from innocence to the real world. My mother had taught me about a brave young man named Daniel, who refused do deny his faith in God, even when thrown into a den of hungry lions. Because of his great faith (I was taught), Daniel was spared. The lions didn’t hurt him. Losing faith, for Daniel, would have been catastrophic. Perhaps it would have been physically catastrophic, but I think that physical catastrophe would have been the least of Daniel’s worries had he succumbed to a temptation of losing faith. As I learned about the real world, I was greatly troubled by history that taught about thousands and thousands of Christians who refused to deny their faith, even in the face of personal peril. Guess what… Their faith didn’t provide a physical miracle. Though losing faith was not an option to these martyrs, the lions did what lions do; almost without exception.
Was a seven-year-old boy’s death caused by losing faith? Could losing faith be blamed for the deaths of so many Roman Christians? I don’t think so.
The history of my family includes a story of my great grandmother, who was affected by testimonies of miracles and one of the hymns in a worship service. People of the congregation had told of miracles that God provided to heal ailing family members. Lyrics to an old hymn included words about how with faith, you wouldn’t be troubled with the death of a child. My great grandmother broke down crying and left the meeting. You see, she had just buried a seven-year-old son who died of pneumonia. Was her faith not strong enough to save him? Did God love her less than other parents in the congregation, whose children were spared through miraculous intervention? Was a seven-year-old boy’s death caused by losing faith? Could losing faith be blamed for the deaths of so many Roman Christians? I don’t think so.
Two things in my life have pushed me to the brink of losing faith. Like my great grandmother, the first was the death of loved ones. The second is not unlike that of waiting parents who desire nothing more than to give a needy child their own home and family. For me, witnessing the plight of orphans, firsthand, seemed reason enough for losing faith. It appeared to me that God had forgotten the orphans warehoused in the vast orphanages where I found five of my own children. I didn’t understand how He could leave them there. Honestly, I still don’t understand.
As I witnessed miracles and heard of others, I questioned God’s universal love for His children. How ironic it is that if we are not careful, miracles can lead us toward losing faith!
Strangely, witnessing miracles that happened in our own adoptions is not what kept me from losing faith. If anything, the evidence of miracles made me more cynical. Why was God playing favorites? Wouldn’t the Perfect Father love all of his children equally? Why couldn’t parents who wished to give homes and families to orphans accomplish their goals? Why couldn’t children, who wanted nothing more than their own homes and families, be provided to waiting parents? As I witnessed miracles and heard of others, I questioned God’s universal love for His children. How ironic it is that if we are not careful, miracles can lead us toward losing faith!
It took far too long for me to learn that the most important miracle does not spare physical pain and death. It does not provide material things or even basic sustenance. In essence, there is only one miracle that matters; and that is grace.
Remembering that death and suffering can be temporary, while life can be eternal, can help to keep us from losing faith.
All of us experience pain. We understand that death will take friends, family members and even ourselves. All of these things will happen in time. Even if by miracles we are spared certain instances, or if we are divinely preserved in life for an extended period of time, days of death and suffering will come. Remembering that death and suffering can be temporary, while life can be eternal, can help to keep us from losing faith.
It is my belief that God manifests his presence and power by the use of miracles. Perhaps a Divine love can be read into that at times. Still, I do not believe that faith in God, or His love for us, are the only determining factors in our prayers being answered in the ways we most desire. When God stays his hand, and suffering or death are the result, He has provided a path whereby those catastrophic outcomes can be temporary. And that is the true miracle. Though no one can earn it, grace, which can eventually grant eternal life free from suffering, is the greatest and most important miracle.
Some of my writing has told of miracles I have witnessed, particularly in our adoption experiences. I understand that people of far greater faith than mine have prayed for miracles that didn’t happen. I know that there are those who are far more worthy than I, who have not been granted their most precious desires. I assure you that miracles in my own life had nothing to do with me. There are many who have far greater faith than I do. God doesn’t love me more. Instead, I believe that all miracles happen to provide the evidence we long for; that God exists and loves us. And such evidence should keep us from losing faith in the greatest of all miracles; the miracle that allows for eternal life; the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Your comments matter. Please scroll down and share your thoughts!
Read more blogs articles by John M. Simmons that are Especially for People of Faith
Return to John M. Simmons’ Blog
Ensure you don’t miss anything by signing up for Our Weekly Newsletter. This is all you need to be qualified for occasional giveaways like the Kindle Fire that Kristy Goulart won in July!