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I Beg Your Pardon
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Wendy Wippel

Country music filled my childhood home, including the 1971 hit: ''I Beg Your Pardon''. In it, Lynn Anderson goes on to proclaim, "I never promised you a rose garden."  Neither did God: Eve sinned, and our garden turned to pain and sorrow.  But yet aren't we somehow still surprised by that reality?

I really believe that the United States is a country on which God shed His grace. Particularly on those early settlers who reached these shores with a genuine desire to share God's love with these nations of people, formerly unsuspected people, who had never even heard the name of the Savior.

Writings of the pilgrims, formerly displayed in the museum at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, record their desire to share God's love to the natives of this new continent, as well as the redemption to be found in Christ.  My husband and I had the privilege of visiting this museum in 2000 with our children, and read the motive of the Pilgrims, not so much freedom of religion for themselves (as we were all taught in school) but the chance to share the freedom from sin and shame, available in Christ, to all of God's children.

I happened to return to that museum in 2011 with my two daughters, now actually old enough to read the documents themselves. But they couldn't read the documents themselves. Why?  They're no longer displayed.  It's now politically incorrect to talk about Jesus (much less redemption only through Him) at this point in time. No matter how historically accurate that might have been.

But I digress.

I really believe that the United States has enjoyed that special favor from God because of our historical honor of Him and widespread recognition of His Word as truth.

But because of that favor, we have also managed to make our lives comparatively untouched by the consequences of the fall.  Our lives, compared to the rest of the world, are relatively untouched by poverty. By polluted food and water.  We're America.  We don't have to fight on our own soil. We don't have famines.  We can easily cure or prevent the diseases that ravage less fortunate populations.  For the most part, we have the resources to make our lives tidy and predictable, pretty much free of disease or disaster.  Our day-to-day trials can seem plentiful: traffic, busyness, bills, etc, but in truth? If we're honest? These are really little more than petty annoyances.

But then, eventually, for pretty much all of us, the reality of the fallen world comes home.

That's kind of where my husband and I have been lately.  And despite I Peter 4:12, and despite the fact that we know God's really been kind of easy on us, truth be told we've been surprised by the fiery trial. 

It's been rough. 

Our daughters went off to school, and suddenly the house was empty.  Really empty. God plopped a job in my lap right about the same time, but it proved to be a hugely stressful transition.  But those were really just minor emotional struggles. Just the start.

What's really robbed our joy is that my hubby, a 6'2" former Marine who has always been our Rock of Gibraltar, has developed major degenerative disease in his spine, already requiring a fusion of two cervical discs, and creating four years of constant and debilitating pain in his lumbar spine.  This bear of a man (just barely 50) who as a Marine jumped out of planes and helped rescue victims of the major volcanic explosion in Hawaii (1984), who, through hard work and unshakeable integrity worked his way to top dog at his company (after starting at that same company 27 years before as a temporary janitor) is reduced to dragging himself in pain back and forth to work and sitting in the recliner in our living room. That’s pretty much it. 

He can't walk through the grocery store. Too much pain.  He can't drive more than to work and back, so no vacations.  (Legs go numb).  He can't sit in anything but a well-padded chair. Too much pain. (Wipes out  3/4 of the places we used to go out to eat.  Born with an ability to fix anything, he now can't mow the yard, can't change his own oil, can't do any of the things he used to enjoy doing for himself.  And nothing the doctors have done has helped. Our lives, so rich for so long, have been reduced to mostly pain and silence. 

When I did primate research, we had a cage that we used when we needed to get blood out of a gorilla. The cage had a second, inside wall that could be cranked back, decreasing the width of the cage slowly so that the gorilla was eventually pinned down, by the moving wall, against the back of the cage, allowing me to safely draw blood.  It wasn't inhumane, however, because the gorilla was only pinned down for a few minutes.

I feel like God has used that moving wall on our lives. But for us, it's now been years.

I've begged for God to lead us some green pastures and still waters.  I've pleaded for a fish instead of a snake, or some bread instead of a stone.

I've echoed the Psalmist:

"My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, “When will You comfort me?" (Psalm 119)

No answer.

Joe, the youth pastor at the first church we went to as a married couple had a barren wife, and they adopted two little boys whose mom had used crack throughout her pregnancies. The boys had a lot of problems and required the best efforts of both parents to raise. Then the wife died of ovarian cancer.  Joe super humanly did the job of two parents and raised the kids himself. (And they are fine young men today.) But Joe had a motto for life that has stuck with me: if money will solve it, it's not really a problem.

And how true that is.  You spend a lot of your life with kids stressing about money. But if money will solve something, it's not really a problem.

Real problems, money won't solve.  And that's where we are.

My husband had another procedure in a surgical suite today, and before the procedure, honestly, we were both really struggling to be hopeful.  The last two procedures haven't worked. In fact, they both made things worse. We were both afraid to hope, because "hope deferred makes the heart sick."

And our hearts are sick.

But in the waiting room, God brought Hebrews 11:6 to my mind:

"without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

It is faith and faith alone that God really wants (our works are filthy rags) and what, as a believer, can we say except to echo Simon Peter:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

We are, like my gorillas, pinned down.  We have nowhere else to go. So we say,

"though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

We have no choice.

It'll take about a week to see which way this procedure goes. And I'm putting together an arsenal of promises to cling to.  In the meantime, we're concentrating on Matthew 11:28 & 29:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

God didn't promise us a rose garden, but He did promise He'd be faithful.  And that's enough.

Wippel" href="http://www.omegaletter.com/content/?Bio_Wendy_page">About Wendy Wippel

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