The Line Between Faith and Lack of Concern
Okay. Some might think it weird, but over the past few weeks, much of which I have spent lying flat on my back contemplating my ceiling in absolute boredom (I was put on bed rest by my current ob-gyn for spotting), one of my main worries has been my plants.
Yes, my plants.
How are they doing? Are they getting enough water (my mother and sister are not very reliable assistants in this area)? Are they getting infested with pests – read: spider mites – as a result of not getting enough water? Are they happy? Have any of them started spiking/blooming/pupping?
I’m well aware that tillandsias are among the toughest plants in existence, and that they are also particularly successful and drought-resistant in the wild. I also know that we’ve had some really heavy thunderstorms recently, whose strong winds ensured that my tillies got plenty of beneficial rainwater. But these are my babies!
E has been doing a pretty good job since I decided that we didn’t need extra help (mother/sister), and he’s done a round of up-close inspections to check for pests. He’s also offered to bring them over to me in small batches so that I can take a look myself, but so far I’ve unfortunately been feeling too tired or irritable or nausea-affected to take him up on it. I’ve observed him watering them a couple of times and felt significantly less anxious about their well-being, but it’s not the same as leaning out that window and personally ensuring that every single one of them is in top condition.
It’s not entirely clear to me whether my preoccupation with my plants is entirely down to my passionate love for them or if it’s influenced by a subconscious need to deflect my anxieties concerning my not-so-easy-so-far pregnancy (and I’m only seven weeks along!). Maybe I’m in denial. …Actually, since I’m actually writing a whole post on the topic, it’s clearly the latter.
We all navigate faith in slightly different ways, I guess. Sure, we all know at least one church-instilled description (e.g. “faith is trusting in the inherent goodness of God instead of your feelings”), and some of us can parrot scriptural definitions (e.g. “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1, AKJV). But how does faith work out in real life, when you’re not dealing with things that could conceivably or arguably be psychosomatic or hallucinatory (e.g. feeling the Spirit’s presence, speaking in tongues, seeing visions, getting “slain”), but with a medical professional’s unsmiling face and discouraging words, packets of drugs, and bloodstains?
Even financial troubles and financial blessings aren’t as difficult to deal with where faith is concerned. After all, it’s not really a miracle per se for family members and close friends who know of your plight to feel moved to give you some cash – the aggregate could very well be more than enough to solve the problem, and then ta-dah! God has favoured and blessed me with provision!
Like I always say, though, there’s no point arguing about faith healing with someone who’s actually already been healed, because there’s really no point to the argument. He’s already healed, and he knows it, and the medical evidence of it is there (unexplained, duh), and how are you going to refute that? And I know what I’ve experienced before: situations where my faith was not disappointed, and where coincidences had clearly crossed the line into the realm of the uncanny. I know that my God is faithful, and I know that His love is real and present, and I know that He provides – abundantly and to overflowing. I just haven’t been tested (or haven’t tested Him?) in this area yet.
I look at my plants and I see that they’ve indeed gone on to spike, bloom and pup. I look at the plants around me, in my estate, in my office building, on the streets, and I see that they all continue to flourish, growing flowers, fruits and seeds in their season. I see the birds and the stray cats and dogs and the pesky rats and moles multiplying freely. I know that women in lower income brackets as well as in poorer and less developed places overseas, without access to the level of medical care I have, are successfully bearing children. I know that in many places, even though they struggle with overfishing, excessive hunting, poaching, habitat destruction and pollution, millions of creatures and plants are still carrying on their life cycles more or less effectively.
In most cases, given the right environment and nutrition, reproduction occurs naturally and effortlessly – and the wrongness and problems are more often than not the result of humanity’s self-serving actions.
Everywhere, at every moment, the first divine commands and blessings ever given on earth are still being obeyed and still manifesting, often with predictable and taken-for-granted results:
Genesis 1: 11–12 (AKJV)
And God said: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth”: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1: 21–22 (AKJV)
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
Genesis 1:24–25 (AKJV)
And God said: “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind”: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1: 27–28 (AJKV)
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Note also that after the Flood, when Noah and his family were getting ready to set out and rebuild human civilisation from scratch, God reiterated His initial blessings and commands:
Genesis 9:1, 7 (AKJV)
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
I wake up in the morning and believe that gravity is still in operation, that my lungs still require oxygen and that Earth’s atmosphere still contains liveable amounts of this gas. I get on the train and the bus and trust that thermodynamics work the same way today that they did yesterday. I eat and drink, believing that these substances I ingest are indeed what they appear to be and contain the nutrients they are supposed to contain, and that my body functions using these as fuel. I go to sleep at night trusting that my heart and lungs and everything else will continue to function without my conscious assistance or supervision, and I trust that I will wake up the next day.
That’s basically how the plants and animals live, isn’t it? We were made to function this way in a world that was fashioned and designed to work by the various laws and theories that we are still discovering and refining our understanding of. Are we not all living by faith, in different things and at different levels and to different extents, at all times?
I have been given a command to go forth and be fruitful. And what He has called me to do, He also equips me to carry out (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:21). Children are a gift and a blessing (Leviticus 26:9, Psalm 115:14, Psalm 127:3, Psalm 128:2–4). For us who stand on grace ground, having been made the righteousness of God in Christ, the Old Testament promises that none shall miscarry or be barren in the land are “yes and amen” in Him (Genesis 28:3, Genesis 49:25, Exodus 23:25–26, Leviticus 26:9, Deuteronomy 7:12–15, Deuteronomy 28:11, Deuteronomy 30:9; Romans 3:21–24, Romans 5:17, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:20).
And so I am not spending an indefinite period of time lying in bed, although the medical expert I’m currently seeing keeps insisting that that is all I am good for right now (with threats that not complying will result in disaster). I’m still working, though I’m monitoring my symptoms and being careful and conservative in my movements. I’m not yet able to wear a smile all the time (feeling ill and waging a constant mental battle will do that to you), but I’m not going to panic and scramble to obey the edicts of science – I’m going to follow my instincts and I’m going to walk by faith.
And I’m going to have this child.