A few days ago we had a miscarriage.
As we were waiting for the ultrasound to confirm what we suspected I missed an opportunity for evangelism, and it sparked another idea in my mind.
While we were sitting in the waiting room, cuddled together and obviously distraught, I noticed an elderly East-Indian woman watching us. Eventually, she stood, walked over to Janis and bent down to grasp her hands.
“Are you ok?,” she asked.
Through tears, Janis nodded. The lady then gave Janis a big hug and said: “I’ll pray for you.”
Later, as I was standing in the hallway outside of the ultrasound room the lady walked past and inquired about Janis. By this point, I knew from the length of time that she had been in the room and the fact that the tech had not called me in to hear the heartbeat we so desperately hoped was there to be found, that the news wasn’t good. I shook my head and explained that we had lost our baby.
“Oh,” said the lady, looking truly empathetic. “I was praying for her.” She sadly moved on down the hall.
It was at this moment that I realized I should have asked: “Who are you praying to?” We live in an area of Toronto that has a large East-Indian population that may be Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Christian. This was a good opportunity for me to explore that line of conversation and talk about the one true God. But I missed it – and even that isn’t my point this morning.
I began to wonder how the conversation could have gone differently if Janis had emerged from the ultrasound room with good news. It’s likely that this lady would have claimed a victory for her God and the power of her prayers. I wondered what my reaction would be.
If the situation was reversed, I certainly would have made exclamations about the power of prayer and sought to make it an evangelistic moment. So, what if our baby had been saved at the moment that a stranger had made prayers to a foreign God? How would that experience have impacted my faith in the God of the bible?
My conclusion was just this, the same truth that has been taught by many a bible-believing, God-fearing preacher: you can’t base your faith on an experience. If the sentence: “I know I am a saved Christian because … ” ends in anything involving an altar call, hands raised at a concert, a vision, infant baptism or some other ritual, you are trusting in vapours.
Recollection of an experience is tainted by emotion, time, perspective – it’s not a concrete thing on which to base your hope for salvation. Experiences can be invalidated or destroyed later leading to crisis. For the Christian, our sure and certain hope is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, His perfect life and the righteousness imputed to us. We have the daily experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have the evidenced growth in our spiritual lives as we read the Word and pray to our Father. In our wake, we leave a trail of good fruit produced by walking in faith through the good deeds prepared for us before time began.
Our faith is not in a single moment or experience, but in the God who made all things and ordained all experiences. He is sure, lasting, unassailable by time, emotion and perspective. It is a faith that can endure loss and in doing so seek His glory.