Hope and certainty

When you turned on the kitchen faucet today, you didn’t wonder whether the water would flow out. When you went to bed remembering what you had to do in the morning, you were planning for tomorrow. We all exercise faith every day in the little things we do. It is a belief system of sorts, a kind of faith that we call on without realizing it. But what do we do when we need a supernatural kind of faith?

The week before Christmas, my son’s home caught fire. An electrical short in the wiring sparked into flames about 4 a.m. He and his wife awoke to the smell of smoke and the horror of burning walls and ceilings everywhere. They scrambled to awaken sleeping family members and holiday guests, getting everyone out of the house.

Taking a head count on the lawn, my son panicked when one of the children was missing. He raced back into his burning home. Moments later, in a halo of flames, he stumbled through the front door, collapsing onto the cement walkway, alone.

Someone had already called 911. Fire trucks were screaming their way to the house as the ambulance arrived. The police were already there. A trauma helicopter set down seconds later in a nearby bank’s parking lot. Everyone was accounted for, including the missing 4-year-old who had escaped with his mother through a back bedroom window. My son Greg hadn’t seen him in the darkness, clinging to his mother.

Paramedics feverishly worked on Greg as the helicopter rushed him to the burn unit 30 miles away. My daughter-in-law sped to the trauma hospital in a borrowed car – hers was on fire in the garage. Firefighters continued to battle the blaze that would ultimately consume the entire house, destroying everything in it.

In an instant, lives were forever changed.

The phone startled me awake. I barely made out the words “bad fire” and “Get here as fast as you can … house burned down … Greg badly hurt … he won’t last much longer.” I lived 3 hours from the hospital.

My knees buckled. The room spun. I tried to breathe as my heart pounded and my stomach tightened.

When I heard “third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body,” all I could see was the face of my 5-year-old grinning at me, his blonde curly hair sticking out of his baseball cap. “Dear God, not my baby.”

My faith? I put my head between my knees to keep from passing out and cried.

I have no memory of the route I drove, what time I left home, or when I arrived at the hospital. I vividly remember crying out to God to give me the faith of Abraham when he was asked by the Lord to sacrifice his son Isaac. I desperately needed the kind of faith it took to be willing to give up the child God had given to Abraham and his wife Sarah in their old age. Could I trust God enough to say, “My son is Yours; do with him as You will”? I didn’t think so. That required supernatural faith. This was my only son. So I prayed.

I read to Greg from the Bible day and night, as he lay in a coma, tubes and bandages everywhere. Trusting he would find comfort in them, I prayed aloud the promises of God and imagined Him speaking to my son as he slept. I prayed 24/7 for the faith I needed to be strong for Greg, and to surrender my will to God’s plan.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” God gently brought me to the place where I was sure that what I hoped for was His will to be done, whatever that was. And after twelve days, He took my boy home to be with Him in heaven. I am certain of that, because Greg was a follower of Jesus Christ, and that is God’s promise to us as believers.

Throughout life, we are faced with disappointments, heartbreak, grief and loss. In the midst of it, we struggle and reach deep into ourselves for faith and strength. Next time, don’t reach in, reach up with the expectation that God will give you what you need. When you do, He will pour more faith into you than you ever imagined possible. That faith will give you supernatural strength, and it will fill you with inexplicable joy as you become sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.

Criss Bertling has a marketing background and is currently the communications director and director of women’s Life for Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, where she has served for nine years.

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