Whenever everything is falling, it is easy to look at Jesus and shake our head. Come close and listen as friend and mom and bridge-maker and old soul, Abby Perry, speaks to our doubts in suffering while bringing us full circle to being sure of only one thing – Jesus. I’m so honored to welcome Abby and her imperfectly brave story.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Over the last two years, I have prayed Simon Peter’s question dozens of times. Usually in song form, humming along to a tune by Ross King, which puts the words to a melody – “to whom shall I go if not with you, Lord?”
Some days, I have prayed this question with affection for Jesus burrowed deep in my bones, with full confidence of His goodness, like a lovesick bride who swoons, “there is no one for me but you.”
Some days, though, more days than I care to admit, the words have dripped a tad sarcastic, as though I am saying, “I guess I’m stuck with you; I guess it doesn’t get better than this.”
I don’t particularly enjoy sharing this with you, divulging that my weaknesses have trickled into my prayer life time and time again, too often as accusations rather than confessions. Even more than that, I don’t like knowing, don’t like acknowledging, that my faith is this weak sometimes, that it gets hazy and gray and causes my mind and heart to say, “Are you serious, Lord? This is what you have for me?”
Maybe I should back up. Almost two years, my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our second child. A few months later, we learned that he had clubfoot, a birth defect that is typically quite solvable early in life. After he, Gabriel, was born, after weeks and weeks of leg casting and surgery and braces and painful tests, we learned that Gabriel’s condition is more than clubfoot, that he has a neuro-genetic disorder resulting in lack of reflexes or motion in his feet or toes, a clasped thumb, and possible progression later in life leading to further motion limitations or sensory loss.
Does the sarcasm make a little more sense now?
As the days, weeks, months and now more than a year have passed, I have wrestled with the Lord. In my mind, I have been like Jacob who said, “I will cling to the Man and will not let go without a blessing.” “Where are You?,” I have wondered. “Do you see what is happening to my life? Do You see what is happening to my son? Do I see the gifts you have given me? Yes. But sometimes those make this even harder, because if you have the goodness and power to give me kind gifts in the midst of suffering, then couldn’t you have prevented the suffering from happening altogether? Of course You could have. But You didn’t. You let it happen. I am angry, I am hurting, my child is hurting. And I feel stuck with You.”
And then I wait for Him to convince me of His goodness. Sometimes He does, and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes I don’t really wait.
But in the moments when I am listening, when the Spirit is testifying and I am soft, gentle enough to tune into His declarations, He tells me exactly what Simon Peter knew of Jesus, what He said to Him just after He asked, “to Whom shall we go?”
Simon Peter says this, my heart says this in its surrendered moments, “You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
My pain does not evaporate.
My son is not healed.
My heart feels the familiar ache as we walk through hospital doors.
My soul still grieves as children Gabriel’s age learn to walk and he cannot yet stand.
But I have something to remember, something to which I can affix, something that gives me a way to think about that Man to Whom Jacob clings, gives Him form and substance before me. He is the One with the Words of Life. He is the One is whom I have believed. He is the Holy One of God.
And the feeling of being stuck shifts a bit, just a bit; it becomes a feeling of being hemmed in, behind and before, His hand laid upon me. The sense of uncertainty at His goodness shifts a degree, just a degree; it transforms into wonder at His mystery, at how little I know of Him and how somehow that is comforting. So I will press in all the more, aware that more days when I am unsure of Him are yet to come. But He will not change; He Who is the One with the Words of Life, the Holy One of God. And I will go with Him.
Abby Perry is an old soul, better in writing. She’s a wife to Jared and mother to Owen and Gabriel. In 2016, she is recording her first full year of observing the Christian/liturgical calendar on her blog. Abby also writes on her family’s journey amidst the realities of Gabriel’s neuro-genetic disorder, listening to the Spirit in the midst of suffering and social issues. She is engaged in the ministry of her local church, orphan care and bridge-building racial reconciliation efforts, as well as serving as a part-time Program & Communications Coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Connect with Abby on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.