“Wrestling” or “Update on Chase 8”

So what do you think God does about faith that’s beginning to dwindle–that is holding on for dear life after two weeks of struggle, strife and head-on enemy assault? I sure hope he pours out his grace anew, because mine could use an energizer.

It’s hard for me to pin-point what gets me down when I visit Mott to see Chase. It certainly isn’t his progress. It continues to be gradual, but steady. By steady I mean if he continues at this pace, he might be back where he was in a year or two. That’s the reality we’re settling in for.

Right now he is still being fed primarily with a tube, though Andrea bought him some chocolate pudding and put some on his lips and tongue for him to taste. The speech therapist got him to make clicking noises with his tongue and he gave a physical therapist the best hi-five he could muster.

He laughed a lot today, but we were told that it might not all be legit, or because of happiness. I guess stroke victims who suffer brain trauma often cry and laugh uncontrollably because their emotions aren’t completely in check.

Chase’s exit from the agitated state has been a relief to us all. He seems to be done tossing, turning and moaning. It was so hard to see him like that. When Mom, Dad and I took him outside for a stroll in his wheelchair today, he wasn’t restless at all and seemed to enjoy the clear skies and brisk fall weather.

I guess one of things that often gets me down with this situation is all the faith grappling I’m going through. I just don’t know what to think. The Sunday School answer is to “trust God” and “put your faith in Him.” I’ve done that best I can, I think. It’s just hard to maintain that level of faith-intensity. Maybe the ability to keep rolling in high-gear is what separated the Biblical greats from the regulars.

I now find myself starting to guard my faith. I’m pulling back a bit, bracing out of fear of the unknown. I still claim Romans 8:28, but not with the confidence I did the first week. What does that mean? Is my teetering faith undoing the promise-claims I made on the way home from Virginia?

I know why I’m doing it. I fear disappointment. I fear the blow my faith would take if I laid it all out there. There have been things–in times of great spiritual growth–I felt God was telling me. They rang true in my heart even. So I put some faith and action behind them and followed them where I felt they were going. Some were dead ends. Those hurt.

It’s amazing how only a few disappointments can offset an endless list of promises kept. I can know through scripture that those things didn’t pan out because they weren’t God’s best for me. But that’s not easy to accept sometimes.

And it’s not that I’m starting to feel Chase is doomed and won’t recover. I think he’ll be fine. It seems to be more of a personal assault on me. After I sent the enemy and his lies away for a while, he came back with more heavy artillery. I feel like a freaking megaphone of doubt is being held up to my ear right now, with some punk screaming into it that my faith is weak and that I’m failing my nephew, my sister, my parents…my family.

When I was outside with my parents and Chase, I just looked at him for a good minute or so after we parked in the sun. I started getting so frustrated with the situation. Mom had just led Chase through the kid’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it…clap your hands!” She had to do it for him. Just two weeks ago Chase was running around, tearing the place up, having long since graduated from such a silly song. Now he was struggling to hold his head up.

And then the lies started flowing. Why was I frustrated? Was that a sign of weak faith? Should I not be joyful and thank God in everything? Did I no longer believe in miracles? Did I ever?

I kept fighting for a few more hours while I was there and then decided I needed to go to church. I needed to escape a bit. So, I cruised home at 85 and got to Westwinds at 6:02, just in time for the lead worship song.

I can’t remember the songs we sang. I just remember praying for the Lord to minister to me, to rain down and remind me of His love; to carry my burdens. And he sure did. I was in tears by the first song’s chorus. Peace washed over me, but only for a moment. Then anger rose within me–righteous anger toward Satan. Anger toward his desire to destroy us all and steal life and happiness. Anger toward his incessant attack upon my mind. I was just tired of it all and cowered at the thought of wrestling through it for the next year or two.

And then thoughts for the rest of my family flooded over me. The thought that probably all of them are facing the same battle I am ticked me off. As if my sister isn’t wrestling with enough physical and emotional drain from this all, to have a stupid demon assigned to poke and prod her faith with lies really pissed me off.

So this is the battle; this is real life. Good vs. evil. It’s the world John Eldridge says is actually more real than the physical one we reside in. And that’s becoming increasingly obvious to me with the way these inner battles influence me in the physical. My demeanor can change in an instant.

I guess I should bring this personal therapy session to an end. The moral of this story is that I would appreciate prayers for my entire family on this topic: the faith struggle this has brought upon us. May the Lord teach us to rely on him in all things and to continually run to him for the truth in all situations. May he be our strength.

Joel Maust

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

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