'The Waiting Room—60 Meditations for Finding Peace & Hope in a Health Crisis'

Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage  ·  Feb 21, 2020

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."—James 1:2-4, NIV

On the first day of August, I had jotted a note in my prayer journal under my son’s name: “humility and gratitude.” It’s not that he isn’t a generally humble and grateful twenty-two-year-old—but really, what twenty-two-year-old couldn’t stand to grow in this area? (Or what fifty-two-year-old couldn’t grow a little, for that matter?)

This practice was nothing new; it’s what I do. I anticipate or observe character issues in my children, and I begin asking God to work on it. But when our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor two days later, I wanted to take my prayer back. I prayed something like this:

In the first place, God, I didn’t want him to have to suffer to gain this humility and gratitude. In the second place, I didn’t want to have to suffer in order for my son to grow more mature. In the third place, I didn’t really mean that prayer.

But God firmly showed me that there are no “takebacks” on this prayer; furthermore, perhaps there were some areas of my character that could benefit from such a trial. God wasn’t content to let me remain unchanged. Instead, He was committed to sanctification.

Sanctification is a big theological word that refers to the process by which God makes His children more like their Savior Jesus: more holy, more mature, more complete. Of the many lessons Scripture teaches about sanctification, two lessons particularly apply here:

  1. God saves us with the purpose of making us more like His Son.
  2. Whether we like it or not, God often uses suffering to help us grow and mature.

I am a feeble and sinful parent, but I still scribbled a prayer in my journal because I wanted our son to be mature and complete, lacking nothing. God did not scribble when He engraved my name on His hand. He nailed His Son to the cross and wrote my name with Jesus’s blood. Such are the lengths to which our faithful Father has gone to make us, His precious children, mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Excerpt used by permission of the author.