Trusting God For Who You Are
Who has made man’s mouth? Who made him mute or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11)
If we have physical or mental disabilities or impairments, it is because God in His wisdom and love created us that way. We may not understand why God chose to do that, but that is where our trusting Him has to begin.
This truth is admittedly difficult to accept, especially if you or a loved one is the object of such disability. But Jesus affirmed God’s hand in disabilities. When the disciples asked Him why a certain man was born blind, He replied, “That the works of God might be displayed in him.”(John 9:3)
That hardly seems fair, does it? Why should that man suffer blindness all those years merely to be available to display God’s work on a certain day? Is God’s glory worth a man being born blind? And what about our own physical disabilities or inadequacies? Is God’s glory worthy of those also? Are we willing to take our physical limitations, our learning disabilities, and even our appearance problems to God and say, “Father, You are worthy of this infirmity in my life. I believe You created me just the way I am because You love me and You want to glorify Yourself through me. I will trust You for who I am.”
This is the path to self-acceptance. And we must continually keep in mind that the God who created us the way we are is wise enough to know what’s best for us, and loving enough to bring it about. Certainly we’ll sometimes struggle with who we are. Our disabilities and infirmities are always with us, so we have to learn to trust God in this area continually. We have to learn to say with David, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)
As I read this piece by Jerry Bridges, my thoughts turned almost immediately to our journey with our grandson Titus. I must confess that this has been perhaps the most difficult of things to trust God through. One of the things I really struggled with was the thoughts of my son and daughter-in-law who so loved this little boy and would have given anything to keep him and watch him grow up and seeing other parents who had perfectly healthy children that they didn’t want. I must confess also that being on this journey has also made for me the reality of the horror of abortions by choice more difficult to accept.
But in spite of the sorrow and the pain of loss and grief, I am also grateful for the ways God showed His glory and His love. I learned the deeper lesson of trust that goes far beyond faith. To believe God for an intervention or a miracle is easy in comparison to trusting Him to choose the outcome. In this journey, over and over God would answer my prayers with the words, “Trust me.” Now I have to say I didn’t want to hear “Trust me.” I wanted a clear answer. I remember standing in the hallway outside the NICU in Johnson City saying to the Lord, “Tell me what to prepare for, a baby dedication or a funeral service. The doctors had told us that Titus might not survive and the next 48 hours were critical. As I left to drive home(an hour and a half away) to get things necessary for Sherry and I to stay in Johnson City, I was in conversation with God. I was asking God to tell me what was going to happen for I felt it was my responsibility not only as a father but as a pastor to be prepared to help my family. As I kept saying, “God, I need a word and right now would be a good time for one”, I turned on the radio hoping that my soul would be soothed with music. And God spoke. O I don’t mean He spoke audibly. He spoke through the radio. My favorite of all hymns is “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. I had never heard that song on a contemporary station and I haven’t heard it since, but that day a contemporary band sang it. Because sometimes I’m hard of hearing when God speaks, after the song finished, through my tears I asked God again, “tell me what to expect.” And would you believe that within a fifteen minute span, they played the song again with an entirely different band. And so God said, “Trust me.” Over the course of those two years, I watched how God used this little boy. Though he never spoke a word, his life spoke powerfully of the love and grace of God. At his memorial service, I made the comment that in his short life, he proclaimed the gospel more than I had in all my years of ministry and all I would ever do.
There are so many stories of how God used Titus. Throughout all the surgeries, all the physical challenges of just trying to breathe, the fact that he could never speak or even show facial expressions due to his facial nerves not working, his life created opportunities for his God to be glorified.
One of my favorite stories happened on a Saturday morning as Sherry and I went to IHOP for breakfast. As we approached the door, we arrived at the same time as a black couple. I opened the door and we allowed them to enter before us. They and their family of about twenty were seated near our table. We discovered due to a sister that the gentleman who I had held the door for was celebrating his birthday. The sister asked the entire dining room to join and sing happy birthday to him. For Sherry and I it was a lift to our hearts and for a moment we shared the joy of watching this family celebrate a birthday together. As we left our table, I stopped by and wished him a happy birthday and expressed how we needed the lift of our spirits. We were asked the reason of our being in Johnson City and we shared about Titus. The family asked if they could pray for us. Naturally we said yes. What we didn’t know at that moment was that the man whose birthday it was was a deacon and a godly man. He stood up and the whole family stood. They placed Sherry and I in the center and they placed their hands on us and began to pray out loud as though they were at church. My deacon friend began to pray in tongues by the Holy Spirit. At that moment I begin to hear other voices join the group. I confess one of my thoughts was what all the other diner thought about all this so I opened my eyes to see. What I saw was even more amazing. IHOP that morning was filled with people of all ages and colors and I have no doubt of all denominations. Every table had ceased eating and conversation ceased and every head was bowed in prayer and not only was the family around us praying but quite a few others were praying aloud as well. What an amazing moment of glory God was given. I have no doubt that had Titus been born well and healthy that event would have never happened and God wouldn’t have been glorified as He was.
The second favorite story occurred in Knoxville. Titus was sent to the Children’s Hospital at the University of Tennessee for some pretty intense surgery to open his airway. After the surgery while he was in recovery, we took his parents along with the godparents to lunch at Calhouns on the River. Once again God intervened. Our waitress as she was bringing the drinks to our table stumbled and literally drowned Jessie, Titus’ godparent. She was very apologetic and as she was trying to clean up the mess, the incident opened a conversation with two black gentlemen who were seated at a table near us. Our waitress told us that she had served for over twenty years and had never spilled anything on anyone. She said that she had no clue why she stumbled. I kinda think maybe an angel stuck out his foot for God was once again setting us up. During the conversation the two gentlemen inquired our reason for being in Knoxville and we told them about Titus. And there went God again. They came over to our table and asked if they might pray with us. As we joined hands around the table and these two brothers began to pray, once again I was amazed that the lunch crowd at Calhouns ceased their conversation, bowed their heads and prayed together with us. In both cases I’m still amazed that God brought together total strangers from at least two different states and two different races. Nobody at either place asked about denomination or what each believed. Nobody noticed color or any other things that made us diverse. For those moments, God’s children joined together for a common prayer and God was glorified in a magnificent way.
Would my desire be that Titus was born healthy and that right now I could hold him in my arms and we could share life and time together? No question. Would I trade that for all the ways God has taught our family to trust Him, how God has brought us closer than ever before and created a bond between my children and grandchildren that often is amazing to watch? I must say not even in my pain of loss, the gain of trusting God and the proof of His love gives the true value to what Titus has taught us through his short life of physical impairments.
When Titus answered God’s call to come home, God gave us a vision of him running and playing in complete freedom. Gone was the respirator and the nerve damage. Gone was the struggle to breathe and to spend all his days in a crib. There can be no doubt that he is happy and complete and most of all he is now before the throne of God glorifying and worshipping God.
We have recognized that God gave us this precious gift even for such a short time so that we might learn to trust Him and that in it all He would be glorified.
So offer whatever infirmity, imperfection, struggle, challenge and inability you have to the God who created you that way and say to Him, “Father, take all I am, both good and bad, all my infirmities and impairments and use them and me so that my life may glorify you in this life and the one to come.
Dr. John Thompson