The Long Road Home
Chuck and Sharon Betters
Faith Principle #1 Biblical faith is believing that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3
In a home filled with the terror of an alcoholic and abusive father, a place where there was little food and even less laughter, my mother would sometimes speak to me about Jesus. Alone in my bedroom, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I gave my heart to Christ. In those difficult years, I would often promise Jesus that, when I grew up, I would work hard and make enough money to help children who were too poor to buy clothes and food, I would abolish all alcohol, and I would make it so that daddies were never allowed to hit mommies.
Sometimes, when it seemed I was the particular target of Dad's rage, I thought that maybe Jesus was as angry with me as my father was. Why else was life so hard? How could a loving God allow fathers to hurt their children? Terror and resentment eventually replaced my childlike love for Jesus. As an adult, I looked for security in marriage and children and, after my daughter's birth, I finally felt like I was in control of my life.
The birth of my gravely ill son, Dean, however, changed all that. Dean was born with lymphangioma. This disease disfigured his face and led to numerous complications, including constant infections, fevers, an obstructed airway, and fourteen surgeries. My husband, unable to accept our "imperfect" child, deserted us. After three years of hearing doctors tell me they could not diagnose my child's problem, I knew that time was running out. In desperation, I contacted a children's hospital and was referred to Dr. C. Everett Koop. After just one hour with him, I understood my child's rare birth defect. Dr. Koop also made it clear to me that the treatment process would be long, expensive, and difficult. At the time, all I could think was: "how much harder can this get?"
Even as I tried to deal with Dean's poor health and uncertain future, I struggled in support my small family; I often wondered how we would eat from week to week, how I would pay for Dean's mounting medical bills. After years of pain and misery, I could bear the strain no longer. I wanted to end my life. The long years of unresolved anger, fear, and depression had finally pulled me into deep despair and thoughts of suicide. Then, from somewhere deep inside me, I remembered my mother telling me about Jesus. I began to pray, "Lord, if you're really there, if you really love me, please help me. I'm so tired. I just can't do this anymore."
Suddenly, I felt the weight of all my troubles lift as the love of Christ surrounded me. For the first time in my life, I experienced real hope.
Though none of my circumstances had changed, I knew that God had met with me in a supernatural way. Soon after that, Dr. Koop asked me several pointed questions about my faith, and he went on to share with me how I could know Jesus was with me during these difficult days. Thus, It was through my son's illness that the Holy Spirit brought me back to Jesus and through my son’s caring physician that I would begin to learn how to live for Christ.
On another day, Dr. Koop showed me a room full of sick infants. I was horrified to learn that children with similar diseases were being put to death by abortion. I soon realized that God had sent Dr. Koop to prepare me for a special mercy ministry. Shortly after that discussion with Dr. Koop, I eagerly accepted the challenge to help start a Crisis Pregnancy Center. At the time, I did not know I would one day serve as its Executive Director. I often think about my childhood dreams of helping unloved and hurting children and their mothers when I see the women and children whose needs are being met through this ministry.
If the Lord had not given met the life I had as a child, would I still have the compassion I feel for others today? If the Lord had not given me a critically ill son, would I even be walking with Christ today? Would I still cry at the sight of a handicapped or sick child? And if He had not led met to meet Dr. Koop, who taught me about Jesus and His love for children, would I now be ministering to hurting people experiencing crisis pregnancies? Would I have had the privilege of seeing even my own father receive Jesus into his heart just before his death?
Years of heartache taught me much about myself and about my Savior that I would never have learned otherwise. How thankful I am that He did not give up on me even during the time I gave up on Him.
Excerpted with permission from Treasures of Faith, Living Boldly in View of God's Promises, pages 7 – 9.
In His Grip,
Chuck and Sharon Betters
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