“Thoughts” or “Update on Chase 7”

Over the weekend, Andrea had asked if I’d come back to Ann Arbor on Tuesday to hang out with her in the evening. “I’ll probably be getting pretty lonely by then,” she said. I of course obliged, seeing the opportunity to love on her and spend the quality time with her I had been praying for.

Tuesday turned out to be, in her words, “probably the hardest day so far.” It wasn’t that we had received disappointing news on Chase or that he had regressed. Quite the opposite, in fact. He had both a morning and afternoon session of physical therapy that tuckered him right out, leaving him tired and restless the hours I spent there in the evening.

I guess he performed pretty well in those sessions. He’s getting strong enough to sit up and support his head on his own. He tracked stimulation (a bell ringing at his side) and started swallow tests. All doctors continue to be positive.

But it was an emotional day for Andrea. Up and down with positives and frustrations. Though Chase performed well, he’s also pulled his feeding tube out twice, necessitating him to go though the insertion process a couple times. She said she couldn’t watch the second time. And one of the doctors was quite late for a therapy session. By the time he got there, Chase had already become uncomfortable with his surroundings and was agitated, leading to an unproductive session.

Andrea is tired, but continues to cling to God day-by-day for strength. It’s all she knows to do. She misses the son she knew, but is completely incapable of bringing him back. That’s really frustrating for her and our entire family. We all miss “the old Chase” and pray daily that God will bring about complete physical and mental restoration. But at the same time, we acknowledge that in spite of what the future may hold for Chase, he will never be anything less than our son, nephew, grandson and cousin. He’ll be unconditionally loved by us all.

At the end of the evening, I was so happy Andrea asked me to pray with her. I don’t know that we’ve ever prayed–just the two of us. It’s so weird, because God is answering these prayers I have had over the past few months: for restoration in our family, for a stronger bond between Andrea and I, for priority shifts in our lives… But NEVER would I have asked these things come about at the sake of Chase having to go through such a terrible experience.

Trying to make sense of this all just hurts my head and heart. Below are some things running through my head–some of them silly, some legit:

As I just stated, God seems to be answering a slew of prayers through this thing–prayers that had been cast far before this ever happened. Therefore, God appears to be using the situation to bring about good works. Now, how should I swallow that?

– Does this mean he’ll bring things back to normal in Chase’s life after these good works have been established? or
– Has Chase’s health and quality of life been sacrificed for a greater good? What could be more good that a person’s health and well-being? or
– Is this a case of “Be careful of what you pray for”?

Claiming Romans 8:28, I’m confident the first thought is true: that what Satan meant for evil and destruction, God allowed to happen with one of the positive outcomes being good works in our family; and that God will bring about full restoration in Chase’s life.

The idea of Chase’s health being sacrificed for the sake of a greater good is rather disturbing to me. Some would probably renounce their faith over it. I’m not sure if it’s unbiblical or not; I just know it’s unpleasant.

“Be careful of what you pray for”? I’m not really thinking this–it just popped up. I’ve heard it before and basically consider it hogwash. God has our best in mind. If our heart is pure and motives righteous in our prayers, God won’t say “Oooops, you prayed the wrong thing. I guess you’ll just have to live with the consequences.”

But that leads down a different road–one that I and others have traveled to some degree or another: what if I wasn’t pure and righteous (not only in prayers, but actions). Could God be using this to get me back on track, making me indirectly responsible for Chase’s condition?

I certainly think it’s typical for all to do a soul check when something like this happens. And I think it’s crap; it’s the enemy trying to heap blame on our lives so we become self-defeating. Did God cause it to happen to teach us a lesson? No. Absolutely not. Did he allow it to happen, with ONE of the benefits being priority-shifts in many of our lives? Probably. What does this all mean? We don’t know now, and may not ever.

All we know now is that Chase is on the road to recovery–and it looks to be a long road. Good has already come about from all this and more good is certainly in store.

In my humanness–and I think I’m speaking for most of my family here–I struggle with having to “resolve” all this in the end. 50 years from now, when I look back on this all, will I be able to see the good out-weighing the bad? If Chase fully recovers, it won’t be as hard. If he doesn’t, it will be tough.

Certainly, there are loads of other Kingdom-benefiting intangibles that we’ll never know about. I guess that’s why God wants us to have unshakable faith in his decisions–that they are always for our good.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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