That said, I do not presume to know why God doesn't relieve my wife's pain or disability, and I routinely avoid discussions with those who profess they do. Examining all the cases of miraculous healings recounted in the Bible, it is interesting to note that God never used a formulaic approach. Some people recipients of healings had great faith; others just seemed pitiful and clueless. I remember the first time a bombastic "name it and claim it" minister pronounced miraculous healing over my wife while he himself wore glasses. The absurdity of the situation caused a moment's pause, while helping me realize two key principles:
Pain leads us to cry for relief.
If the discomfort seems manageable (such as eyeglasses), then we don't scream for help.
Thinking on these principles, I recall an event while in Ghana during a mission trip to provide artificial legs. Like a politician, I grabbed many hands, and entertained the dozens of amputees crowding into the clinic as they waited to see our team. Working the crowd, I made my way around the room when, out of my peripheral vision, I noticed one last person yet to be greeted. While still looking at the individual directly in front of me, I extended my hand to the small shape out of the corner of my eye – to greet the shy woman who stood conspicuously in the corner. Turning my head, with my hand already outstretched, my eyes immediately noticed the scars, missing digits, and maimed arm of the woman who clearly bore the ravages of leprosy.
Time stood still while I saw her questioning eyes, as she appeared to wonder if she was indeed welcome in the clinic. Although knowing good hygiene made me nearly immune to this disease, my first instinct was still to recoil. Then I remembered the cry of my maimed, scarred, and diseased soul, and my desperate need of a savior. I recalled how Christ not only welcomed me into His clinic, but into HIS family.
Taking the woman's hand in both of mine, I whole-heartedly assured her that she was welcome. After experiencing the amazing gift of salvation and adoption from God on my behalf, how could I do anything but embrace this precious, hurting woman?
Unlike the leprous woman I met in Ghana, many of us do not recognize the glaring reminders and awareness of our desperate state. Again, one rarely asks for rescue when unaware of peril.
From amputated limbs to poor vision requiring reading glasses, the human condition is still subject to this broken world. Maybe eyeglasses serve as the perfect metaphor, because we can't always see the bigger picture. The Apostle Paul stated that we presently "…see through a glass darkly." One day, God will reveal his purpose in all of this, and I am convinced that we will give Him the glory for things we currently cannot understand.
When faced with long term suffering, the absence of reprieve leaves us with a small set of choices on how we will live. We can run around screaming for a rescue, medicate the pain through sin and/or substances, or we can choose to live each day to the best of our abilities while trusting God for "strength for today – and bright hope for tomorrow."
Serving as a caregiver "since the Cold War," I've had ample time to make just about every kind of mistake possible. Regarding the small list of choices on how to deal with it, I've made all the above. Through it all, however, I have landed on trusting God with the harshness and ugliness of this broken world. That trust equips me to do the best I can each day, even when confronted with painful circumstances that cause me to have nightly conversations with the ceiling fan. Gazing at my own hands, I fail to see nail-prints, and that provides me with great comfort in realizing that those terrifying and heartbreaking things, as well as even the little things like eyeglasses, are not mine to resolve. That knowledge equips me to continue standing with hope, knowing that my rescue from a greater calamity than this present state is secure in the redemptive work of Christ.