Faith Perseveres

Daniel and Sarah

Sharing this article and what I originally wrote on July 30th about how faith perseveres.  While I did not know at the time that I had less then a month left on earth with my lovely wife, the message that I wrote below exactly 30 days ago is even more true now. Trials often shake peoples’ belief that God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, and all-sufficient.  Yet, I know each of those to more real today than I did even yesterday. Paul said in 1 Cor. 15 that if Christ is not risen then our faith is in vain and we as Christians ought to be pitied. However, Christ has risen again so we have absolute assurance of His promises of our eternal home and our own resurrection one day.  This trial has not shaken my faith – it has deepened and strengthened as a refining fire. (1 Peter 1:7) My grief and sorrow of loss is strong, but God’s grace is far stronger.

“So it is with faith — it grows strong with use and it dies with disuse. And the use for which faith was primarily designed was what? A new life of joyful obedience.” – John Piper

This is so very true.  Many people ask how we can endure joyfully in the midst of trials?  It’s because the Lord has been gracious and merciful to allow us to grow our faith over the course of our lives and our marriage.  When we rested in God’s love and sovereignty in the past during our 3 miscarriages or other major health challenges, it grew our faith each time.  We made a conscious choice then and now to preach the truth of God’s Word to us and to reject the fears and worries that inevitably come. That doesn’t mean we didn’t struggle to do that; we certainly did at times.  We would then call to remembrance all the blessings God has shown us and His saints throughout history. God has and will continue to provide for all our needs because our greatest need isn’t even health or anything else in this world; it’s becoming more like Christ and bringing glory to His name.  In our case God is orchestrating that through these trials to which we can submit with joyful obedience.

The Doctrine of Perseverance:  The Earnest Pursuit of Assurance

Sarah Stepped Into Eternity

This post was originally published on Facebook on August 28th, 2017 as I shared that Sarah’s earthly journey had come to an end.

Sarah stepped into eternity last night surrounded by family as I held her hand. The end was peaceful and we know most assuredly that although she is no longer with us, this is merely the beginning of an eternity of glory in heaven with her Savior! (2 Cor. 5:1-9)  I miss her so much already, but would never wish her back as she is free from her suffering in this sin-cursed world. I rejoice in the sure promises of God’s Word and her complete eternal security. The peace, grace, selflessness, humility, kindness, and complete lack of complaining that Sarah exhibited in these last 6 months as she dealt with these health trials, but especially the last 4 weeks, exhibited true Christlikeness.  She is and always will be a shining testimony to us all! Take a moment today to step back and remind yourself about the things that really matter from an eternal perspective.

We will mourn for our loss, but not as those with no hope. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. (I Thes. 4:13-14)  Sarah’s life verse was from Galatians 2:20 which says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” She lived this reality in her earthly walk and now perfectly in her eternal home.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8

How Do You Tell the World Your Wife is Going to Die?

Sarah Wedding Picture

This post was originally published on Facebook on August 9th, 2017 as I sought to be able to put into words the news that my beloved wife Sarah was headed home to heaven very soon.  It is both a testimony of Sarah’s salvation and so many of the lesson God had been teaching us that year.

How to begin… it has been over a week since our last update as we have sought to be able to put into words everything that has happened since then. The past week has been filled with countless consultations with the leading experts and most experienced doctors here at one of the best hospitals in the entire country. Sarah spent a week in the ICU while she was at most risk for not being able to breathe on her own. We praise God that her breathing has improved that although she does need oxygen, she can breathe and talk on her own. However, her overall condition has continued to decline.

It is almost impossible to describe everything that has happened this hospital stay. However, every day has brought more and more setbacks. She has been on IV antibiotics since admission on 24 July and and during this whole time she has made no progress against the infections while the pneumonia continued to spread dramatically. Multiple CT scans have shown that her right lung is fused to the esophageal perforation (2cm and growing) so it is continually being reinfected along with feeding the infected abscess in the right pleural cavity. The infectious disease team here described it as whack-a-mole against infections that no antibiotic can cure. Sarah has been aspirating into the lung so stomach acid and bile have irreparably damaged her right lung. Additionally she has developed significant pneumatosis in her colon which in her case is a predictor of a colon perforation. There are too many other complications to list as well.

The bottom line is there are no good surgical options left even if she were strong enough to survive an operation. In many ways the healthcare team expected that she should already have died so every day now is a true gift from God. We have been so grateful to have this time when family could come in to spend time with us.

After some wonderful discussions with the palliative care team and prayerfully evaluating every option, we clearly knew that God was leading us on a different course. Aggressive interventions have not worked all year long as Sarah’s body was not well to begin with this year and just has not healed the way it was expected to. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that doctors don’t have all the answers and every medical problem can’t be fixed.

As we have walked this trial of health challenges all year long, God has been working in and through us in so many ways. We have learned to rest in His sovereignty and control over every circumstance we have experienced and seen His amazing love poured out on us in ways we could never have known before. The Body of Christ through His Church has uplifted and supported us in innumerable tangible ways and my leadership at work has given me all this time to spend with Sarah. Trials have a way of helping you focus so clearly on what is most important in life and for us that has been to seek to bring glory to God in every way possible. We know that this sickness unto death is a way to shine His glory even brighter (John 11).

Several days ago Sarah was moved to the palliative care suite here so that she could be made more comfortable while their team along with case management does a full workup for her plan of care and needs. The current plan is to move Sarah back home later this week as we get everything set up for home hospice.

The past week has been filled with family coming to be here and it is such a blessing that we all get to have this time with Sarah. God has led and given us such amazing and abbundant peace and grace each and every day. It’s truly amazing to experience and we hope we can be an encouragement to others in the same way they are an encouragement to us. I am frequently asked how we are doing and I can confidently say that we are at more peace than ever this year. When I’ve been on the other side of these experiences watching other people go through them I would marvel at how they were able to bear up in the midst of such heavy trials. Having now walked through this experience for the past 5 months and especially the last 2 weeks I know so much more deeply the truth of 2 Cor 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

As Christians we can view death very differently. 2 Cor. 5:8 reminds us that when our soul departs our body it is present with the Lord. God saved Sarah from her sins when she was 20 years old so she can face death confidently knowing that her citizenship is in heaven where she awaits her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20) 1 Peter 1:4 also describes it as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [her].”

God can do anything and He could miraculously heal Sarah in a way that is unexplainable, but it seems His perfect will is to promote her home to heaven very soon. We will mourn for our loss, but rejoice for her as she enters into eternal glory. Psalm 139 has been a great source of comfort to us, especially for Sarah as we rest in God’s promises.

We are so thankful for all of the prayers, love, and outpouring of support we have received this year. So many of you have shared this journey with us and helped encourage us in ways all of you can never know. It is our fervent hope and prayer that our testimony will likewise bring glory to our sovereign and loving God and challenge you in many ways. Sometimes it is so easy to be focused on the here and now instead of stepping back to see an eternal perspective. James 4:14 reminds us that our “life is as a vapor” so we must use our time and resources wisely in light of eternity, treasure those we love, and rejoice in each blessing God gives.