December 1995 marked the greatest adversity of my life–when my faith was challenged with an intensity that I never could have imagined. Two of our children were involved in a horrific car accident. In a mere moment, our daughter was seriously injured with a broken clavicle, broken ribs, collapsed lung, and seriously broken pelvis. After a week in the ICU, she spent the next seven weeks flat on her back in traction, then in a wheelchair, then in physical therapy learning to walk again. But far worse, her beautiful best friend Erin was instantly killed at the tender age of 16 as she and my daughter sat hugging each other to keep warm in the back seat of the vehicle on that frosty night.
Yet even during the most intense ensuing grief I could ever have thought possible, it never occurred to me to doubt God Himself. He is, and was and will always be. That was reality. But it was the issue of His Sovereignty that I wrestled so deeply with, for a year at least. I knew that God “allows” circumstances to happen… but how had He lost control over this one? Had He? I doubted my own understanding of God, and I doubted what I had perceived should be the fruit of several decades of faithful living for Him. Frankly, I felt like I’d been violated– all this time, I had assumed that if I lived before Him in obedience and faith, these kinds of things were not supposed to happen.
Yet even at the very core of my struggle, God continued to give precious glimpses of Himself that brought the amazing, blessed assurance that He was there with us, and He was Sovereign, even though there was so much I didn’t– and may not ever– understand.
One of these came in the form of the poem that follows here. When I was finally convinced to travel the one and a half hours home from the hospital for a brief rest, after not leaving my daughter’s side in the ICU for days, I found this poem on my bedside dresser. After all these years, I have still not been able to find out who put it there. (I would have suspected an angel, except that there was a spelling error in it.)
This morning, I dug it up again to give to a friend I was meeting for lunch, who is grieving the recent death of her son. Adversity, pain, and grief– to some degree or other– are an inevitable part of life. Yet even in the deepest times of adversity, when our faith is shaken down to its simplest and most basic premise, we cannot doubt the Hand of God. His grace is truly amazing– and never more than in the darkest, most difficult times.
“I Will Not Doubt” written by Annie Johnson Flint (born in 1866, died in the mid 1930’s):
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand that never fails
From ‘seeming’ evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Yet will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
“I trust in Thee!”
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from that still, white realm above.
I will believe it is an All Wise Love
That has refused those things for which I yearn.
And though sometimes I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain
And troubles swarm, like bees above a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached through anguish and through pain.
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses
The greater gain.
I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith.
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale,
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To cross the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
“I WILL NOT DOUBT!” so listening worlds may hear it
With my last breath.
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