Keeping the Faith, Even When It All Falls Apart

September 2, 2013 | Hope, Joy, worship | 49 comments

 

The news came like it often does: straight out of a clear-blue sky, like a thunderhead that wasn't on the radar.

Because the radar on Pam and Ken's life looked pretty clear:

They have been married 43 years, have huge hearts for ministry and have a bunch of grandchildren who adore them. (It wasn't long ago that Ken drove 45 minutes to return Piggy and Bunny so that his two granddaughters didn't have to miss a single night without their best sleeping buddies.)

But that one one word shows no deferential regard. You know the word --

Cancer.

It's the word that always lands like a thud in the gut.

On Tuesday, Ken received news that melanoma had migrated from his skin to his brain and lungs.

But that's only one piece of the bigger story. Yes: It's a shift in the plot, an unexpected twist in the story-line, an unwanted chapter in the book.

But for Pam and Ken, this is the place where faith isn't just spoken, but lived. It's the moment where we know that faith is more than a mouthed abstraction on a Sunday morning -- that it's the only fuel that will get us through the valley.

After the news sunk in, Pam announced it publicly on Facebook. This was the opening of her announcement:

"I just had one of the most precious moments of my entire life. I was sitting on the deck contemplating how my life and Ken's life have changed since Tuesday."

She continued, telling about that thunderhead overhead. Turns out, those thunderheads bring some of the most beautiful, gentle rains.

Because the telephone rang. It was her prayer group. Each woman took turns praying aloud into the phone for Pam and Ken.

"As they prayed, I watched the sun rise above the neighbor's house," Pam wrote. "Thank you, Jesus, for giving me this blessed assurance through this amazing experience."

She returned to the deck the next morning holding her cup in her hands, and later typed this to her Facebook friends:

"I was out on the deck again this morning with my coffee, reading all the pamphlets containing the word cancer. An Asian woman came down the bike trail right next to our house. I have often crossed paths with her on my walks and we would greet each other. She called out to me, "You walk today?" When I said "no," she asked, "Why not?" I ran out to her and briefly explained my husband has cancer. I was not even sure she understood what I was saying. Her response? "I pray for you," and she grabbed my hands. "You're a Christian?" I asked in amazement. And then she prayed to Jesus in her broken English for Ken and me.

Join me in praising God for holding me 2 mornings."

And then, on the third day, Pam returned to the deck as the sun peeked over the horizon. Pam wrote:

"I am on my deck with a cup of coffee again this morning waiting with joy to see what blessing God has ready for me."

This.

This is the mark of the truest saints. This is expectant faith, believing that God is good, even when life looks bleak. This is what can happen when everything breaks. And for all of us, something will break. We could limp around on fractured faith, or we could lean on the Reason for the hope that we have.

Christ is more than a crutch. He is the way for the broken and the bloodied and the battle-weary souls.

When the thunderhead appears overhead, I might be inclined to stay indoors and draw the shades. But maybe? Maybe I could go outside, and sit in the gentlest rains, expectant for the blessings, watching for "one of the most precious moments of my entire life."

I want a faith like that. I want a faith that is not the mouthed abstraction of a Sunday morning theology. Not some diluted joy based on circumstantial evidence. I want the joy that marked the life of a Savior. For the joy -- the joy! -- set before Him, Christ endured the cross.

I want the peace that surpasses understanding, the peace that pervades Heaven, and the peace that descends on places like backyard decks because I believe enough that a blessing will come. That God is the silver lining on every cloud.

I want to live eyes-wide-open, with expectant joy like Pam, who lifts her cup and her heart "to see what blessing God has ready for me."

 

Friend where are you today?

Are you on the deck, waiting for the blessing? Does it all look rather hopeless? How can we pray for you?

Or, perhaps, you the one who could pick up the phone -- or walk to the backyard deck of a friend -- to be the blessing under the thunderhead? If you're in need of prayer, let us know. Or if you feel led, please pray for the person who is sitting on the deck today, right here, or in your neighborhood.

by | September 2, 2013 | Hope, Joy, worship | 49 comments

49 Comments

  1. Kelly Greer

    Faith is sitting on a back deck in St. Louis and lifting Pam and Ken in expectant prayer. God is able!
    Hugs to all,
    Kelly

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Faith is … Faith IS!

      Linking hands with you, Kelly … from Iowa down to St. Louis and over to Pam and Ken’s deck in Nebraska. A circle of trust and faith.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes! I am in awe that her first sentence was: “I just had one of the most precious moments of my entire life..”

      Now, I know that Pam would not want me to idealize her. But I really think this is such a beautiful picture of what it means to worship and give thanks “at all times” and in all circumstance.

      So grateful she let me share her story.

      Reply
  2. David

    That is such an affirmation and “kiss” from God, I love hearing stories like this. It really encourages me and makes me realize how ‘small’ my problems are. Pam and Ken, you will be prayed for! Thanks for sharing your story, and your faith! and thanks for writing it with such clarity Jennifer. On a side note, that is an AWESOME coffee mug, you should share a link if there is one!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      A “kiss” from God. Love that.

      So, I tried finding the mug online, and couldn’t locate it. I got it in 2005. Bottom says it came from Abbey Press.

      Reply
  3. Constance Ann Morrison

    The blessings Pam experienced on her deck are now multiplied because she shared on Facebook. Now you have widened the circle–like ripples on a pond.

    “. . . the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3,4

    I will share this with my women’s prayer group.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Perfect verse. Thanks, Constance Ann.

      Reply
  4. Katharine Barrett

    Oh, this is like a stream of encouragement for me today. This morning I was asking The Lord what it looks like to always be in place of giving thanks, and joy that is found in Him! Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Katharine… You are living this one, aren’t you? In your own way? Sending you love and prayers, my friend. God frequently places you on my heart.

      Reply
  5. Brinda VanLeuven

    What a wonderful reminder to me this day that God is the God who takes care of me each step of the way in the journey He meant for me to be on. I need wisdom and knowledge for the days ahead.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Praying for you, Brinda, that God gives you the wisdom and knowledge that you’re asking for. Agreeing with you in prayer.

      Reply
  6. Darnly Motter

    Oh yes…practicing the presence of God through it all. Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You are welcome, Darnly. Glad you’ve dropped by.

      Reply
  7. aljung72

    I had the shades pulled today but I’m going to life them right now and look out the window expectantly. Thank you for your encouragement today..

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh, friend … I get the pulled-shade thing. I’ve been so inspired by Pam and Ken, and their willingness to step into the light and *be* the light. Thanks for dropping by.

      Reply
  8. Lea

    What an awesome post of encouragement! I know so, so many folks with cancer right now and I will join you and the others in prayer for Ken and Pam. May the Lord make His presence real in their lives more and more each day.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for praying for Ken and Pam. I know they will appreciate all the love and support they are getting, from complete strangers, yet united in Christ. Thanks again.

      Reply
  9. Ro elliott

    I am sitting at a friends house while 4 of the 8 grand kids sleep….their mom leaves to take care of her husbands business because her husband needs help ……so he finds himself in a psych ward…..but this young mom recounts to me all the ways God is good….how she is pointing out to the kids how God is the God of details…..she looks for God to show up each day…..finding light in the middle of this dark valley. Gods grace is truly amazing!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Inspiring! I can’t even imagine, Ro. Glad you are there to be her friend. You are such a dear-heart.

      Reply
  10. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    I’m under the deck so I don’t get struck by lightning (there was lightning this morning–lightning without rain). However, two dear Christ-loving friends talked me up & out today. So, there’s that. Back on the porch with black tea and the squeeze of two full limes. (Kind of a tea-inspired virgin margarita.)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oof. The cloud has been so slow-moving, Megan. I wish I could be there with you. And if you didn’t want to sit on the deck? I’d sit under it with you. I hope you know that.

      Reply
  11. Jessica

    What a blessing this reminder-post was to me. I am the one hiding in the house and drawing the shades. But that’s not REALLY what I want – thank you for the reminder. Even if I feel like I am falling apart, He isn’t.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That last line in your comment? A life-line for anyone hurting. Thank you, Jessica.

      Reply
  12. Stephanie Hodgson

    (((((Jennifer)))))! This story is such a great reminder that when we are weak, we can be strengthened through our faith and in prayer. I am praying for Pam and Ken. Praying, too, for the dear soul who encouraged Pam that one morning by praying with her, and sending a prayer of thanks that Pam and Ken’s story encourages all of us and helps us to remember the most important things in life. I just sipped a raw honey, lemon and raw garlic with distilled water tonic, sprinkled with cayenne red pepper and turmeric spices, and sitting next to a window with a view of a Rhododendron that earlier today I spotted a Cardinal flitting from branch to branch. Jennifer, may God bless you for your words and this beautiful story.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      God is so faithful. And if I live with my eyes and heart open wide, like Pam and Ken do, I can see Him so much better. I want to live expectantly like this. So glad you’ve come by. I had to read your beverage ingredients a few times, and can’t imagine what all that would taste like in one glass! 🙂 … Tell me more.

      Reply
  13. birdiecutair

    Beautiful! Since I don’t have a back deck, I’m inside in the air conditioning on my birthday praying for Pam and Ken. I picked a sunflower today to take to my daughter and wish I could send one to Pam and Ken, too. A hug and a smiley bring God’s love to you both. (((( 😉 )))))

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I know that Pam and Ken will appreciate your prayers. Thank you so much!

      Reply
  14. Norma

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful example. Pray that I would cling to Jesus in the midst of a vicious storm (rather than closing my heart to His healing touch).

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Dear Lord, I bring to you Norma’s requests tonight. She’s in her own storm right now — right in the middle of it. I don’t know the details, but I know that You do, Lord. We know that You are capable of calming storms, Lord, and we ask you, in faith, to do so. Protect her heart, Lord, that she wouldn’t close it to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      Reply
  15. Another Esther

    Today is a day that should cause my family and I great fear. Fear has been planted and the enemy tries to get us to believe there is something to fear and feel hopeless about. But thank you, Jennifer, for saying God is not a crutch. That hit home. The expectancy of Jesus’ love and mercy hit home. God is not a crutch but a cat h-everything. Wenot use Him to lean against, but He becomes the way we stand up straight. Too often I fall prey to believing God is best for hearing my tears. And while it is true that God binds up my broken heart, I must have that expectant joy on Him. The willingness to trust and believe His promises.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m so sorry to hear about fear being planted in your life. You’re an Esther, my friend, here for such a time as this. Believing in faith with you, dear-heart.

      Reply
  16. Karlene H

    Jennifer, Thanks for the beautiful story about Pam and Ken. We go to the same church and they are both active in the ministry there. We were so sad and shocked to hear about Ken’s cancer. Pam & Ken are a wonderful couple with a strong faith and have the joy of Jesus in their hearts. They walk the walk of faith in their daily lives. Many people care about and are praying for them. Thanks for praying for them too!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Karlene. Joining your church family in prayer.

      Reply
  17. Leah Adams

    God has amazing ministry for Ken and Pam through this. He would never waste such a wonderful attitude! Please keep us updated on them. God bless them!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Leah … I’ve been working through your Bible study, and have loved so much of what you say about leaving a legacy. Ken and Pam are living that story so beautifully. Thanks for stopping by and for praying! Loved this: “He would never waste such a wonderful attitude.” That’ll preach!

      Reply
  18. Anita Hunt

    Oh Jennifer… I love how we can join hands in prayer around the world, as we fix our gaze on the Hope of the world.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Indeed!

      Reply
  19. Karrilee Aggett

    I am praying… believing… trusting – for him, for her, for them… for you! Oh how we so often want to step back, when all the while He is calling us to Lean In!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for praying, Karrilee. (P.S. — Best use of the phrase “Lean In!” Preach it!)

      Reply
  20. Mom

    I will be praying for Pam and Ken . Thankful see can already see God’s hand. I will pray she keeping seeing God in all things So hard at time to keep holding on to the promises while realtiy seems to different. Easy to start to slide in a downwards cycle

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I know they will appreciate your prayers! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  21. Elizabeth Stewart

    This one…I read it, then came back and read it again. This is what Ann Voskamp would call an ugly/beautiful one. An ugly, ugly thing like cancer and the beauty of God seen in those suffering through it and in those “angels” who called or happened by to pray. Praying to the God of miracles with them.

    Reply
  22. Being Woven

    Powerful and ever so beautiful to feel God in our midst through Pam and Ken. And these two hands of prayer are lifted in South Texas to link with others. Thank you for sharing this as I am encouraged and share the timelessness of God’s Providence.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    Reply
  23. Sharon watson

    Jennifer….thank you for your love and supper for a brother and sister in need of prayer. Your words are so encouraging and loving. What a true Inspiration this sweet sister Pam is! I draw such strength from her faith as I face some non-melanoma face cancer. Looking to God daily as we walk in faith that we are in Gods hands and He loves us so much!

    Reply
  24. Cynthia Swenson

    At the risk of sounding callous or indifferent to the grief & pain that we go through (been through some of that myself lately!) , is it okay to point out that our ultimate reward is to see Jesus face to face! Nothing in this world should compete for that joy. I don’t want to lose sight of these precious promises & I pray someone finds this thought as encouraging I do right now. The best truly is ahead! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

    Reply
  25. rkrumpe94

    I have a friend who is waiting for that call. We are anticipating the “C” word but praying for the “M” word. A miracle. No amount of anticipation or preparing will soften the blow. So we pray for strength to put our faith into action. Amen to every word here! Love, Rachael

    Reply
  26. Mindy

    Praying for your friends even as their faith has encouraged me so today. He truly is the way for broken, bloodied and battle weary souls and I pray I could stand as strong during such a battle.

    Reply
  27. Faye Kroese

    Faith is sitting in the rain knowing at some time the lightening flashes and the thunder bangs so loud it shakes the floor. It’s sitting through that with the peace that NOTHING can blow you totally away because God, in His grace, has you firmly tethered to Him. He is quietly whispering in your ear “Be still and know, I AM GOD”. It is meeting Him there and letting yourself be molded by Him and letting Him use you for His purpose. Never easy, always a blessing. Thank you for pointing this out through Ken and Pam’s story. I will be praying that even in the coming days that peace and willingness always frames the fear.

    Reply

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