Putting Faith in Shoe Leather

by Melanie | March 21st, 2013

RRM Putting Faith in Shoe LeatherI know that God can, has, and will take care of us. I have seen the healing hand of God protecting and providing for us through every heartbeat, every breath, every moment, every day of the year. I know that God will be our strength, our fortress, our mighty rock – but do I believe it? My father fought Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three years ago. When he was diagnosed, he had a tomato-sized tumour between his lungs, and spots of cancer in his lymph nodes, liver and spleen. The oncologists at Duke only gave Dad a 55% chance of making it until June – 6 months. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to preserve my Father for a while yet, and Dad’s had two and a half years of clean scans. This week, though, his oncologist called with some disturbing news. He had been looking over the results from Dad’s last panel of blood tests, and they showed a higher level of a specific antibody that might indicate a return of Dad’s cancer. I’m struggling with my emotions again – I can barely stand the thought of losing my Dad. I have faith, but now it’s being tested.

My football coach often finished our team devotionals with an exhortation to put “Virtue in shoe leather”. It’s easy to talk about faith; it’s that much harder to walk in it. It’s easy to trust until we think our lives and happiness depend on it. A theologian said “We may have atheistic hearts without atheistic minds.” We can easily have a solid knowledge of something, based on experience and fact, yet still doubt that truth in our hearts. Is not that doubt evidence that we are short changing God’s power in our minds? Is it evidential of our thirst, our lustful desire for control – that we can’t stand the thought of placing our full trust in God because that equates to an admission that we can’t trust ourselves to take care of it?

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, once posited an idea that later became famous as “Pascal’s Wager”. Christianity seems like a collection of half-truths and fairy tales on the surface, he argued, but it makes logical sense to believe in it. After all, the Atheist has nothing to gain if he is right, and everything to lose if he’s wrong; conversely, the Christian has nothing to lose by being wrong, but everything to gain of he is right. True, merely deciding that it’s better to bet on God’s existence doesn’t foster true belief, but Pascal suggested that through that conscious decision to believe, and the constant affirmation and repetition of the idea the soul could be led to true belief. Thus, a man might become a Christian when he could have never brought himself to that point through regular paths. While I might disagree with Pascal’s stance on Salvation, I would suggest that his theory has everything to do with learning to trust God.

I think back to how I felt that spring three years ago when I thought my dad would die. My emotions swung from fear, to panic, to depression, to quiet hope. I felt like I was further lost than ever before, but somehow also closer to home. As a Christian, I knew that we had nothing to fear from death. If my father died, we would just be apart for a time, and he’d be in a far better place. For me, there’s no doubt about what will happen at the end of this mortal life – and absolutely nothing to be afraid of. It might sound selfish, but I was never afraid for my father; I was afraid for myself. I knew that whether the Lord chose to take him home at that time or not, that Dad would be okay. I was afraid that I wasn’t man enough to step into his place, to help provide for my family, or to hold my family together. I was afraid that I would be tested in fire and rather than come out purified, and tempered, that the heat and pressure would melt my resolve and destroy me. For one of the first times in my life, I really understood that I was being faced with an obstacle that I could never overcome by myself. I was a young man, barely old enough to work a part-time job, scared for the future, and overcome by doubt and fear. Yet, looking back, I see how God carried me – and my entire family – through that time. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.God used my weakness to show his power and complete a work of providence and healing in my father’s body and our family. During that period of stress, I learned a lot about responsibility, problem solving, and most importantly, trust.

Now, our future is once again filled with doubt and uncertainty. My dad is scheduled for a scan and appointment with his oncologist tomorrow morning. It’s been far too easy to let my overly-active imagination lead me down a depressing path of worry and fear. It’s right to be concerned, and to take all the logical steps indicated to remedy the situation – that’s why Dad’s having a scan tomorrow – but it’s wrong to let legitimate concern turn to paralyzing fear. There’s a lot of wisdom in the wartime poster the British Government created for distribution in case of a German invasion during WWII. In disaster/emergency response classes, they teach that the most important thing is to stay calm and focused, then isolate the problem, and respond appropriately – to Keep Calm and Carry On. So, now, when questions about my dad’s health are frantically awaiting answers, I still have a responsibility to stay focused on my duties. I know that, ultimately, the Lord will continue to provide for us, but my faithless heart still doubts. So, following Pascal’s advice, I’m repeating the assurances of Scripture that God will provide for and care for his people. As I feel alarmed or worried about what the test may show tomorrow, I find myself bringing the events of Dad’s earlier bout with cancer back to mind. I may have trouble trusting in my heart, but my doubts can be assuaged by remembering how God has taken care of me, time and time again. I have seen the healing hand of God, and I have no reason to doubt that whatever happens will be a part of His perfect will. Whatever tomorrow brings, be it life, death, or any other thing, I will trust in God. I know that there is nothing which is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I’ve probably talked long enough about doubt and uncertainty. It’s time to put faith in shoe leather. 


“I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun   

 My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;

 But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son   

 Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;       

 And having done that, Thou hast done ;                   

 fear no more.”

~John Donne: A Hymn to God the Father


P.S. — Please pray that we would receive an accurate (and hopefully clean) report back from Dad’s scan.

UPDATE: This afternoon at Duke Dad’s oncologist told him with joy that the scan had come back with no change — there was no sign of the cancer returning! This was a special blessing because the antibody found would have indicated something very bad IF the cancer had come back. Please join us in praising God and rejoicing at His mercy today! We are inexpressibly grateful for your prayers!

Matthew Henry Young

(Hal & Melanie’s Son)

Matt at Geneva (c)2013 John Calvin Young

37 Responses to “Putting Faith in Shoe Leather”

  1. Praying for you and your family! Thank you for your encouraging words!

  2. Thank you for allowing us to bear a portion of this burden with your family. We are praying for the Young family.

  3. I’ll being praying!

  4. We will be praying.

    Matthew, your writing is inspiring and gives me hope. I have a little boy, only 3 years old, who has given me a lot of trouble lately. I am hopeful that he will grow to be a young man with faith like yours.

    May His peace that passes understanding be with you and your family always.

  5. Praying for your family. God is God, and is our strong tower. In the good and difficult times both, HE is the same. Provider and sustainer, He pours out His blessing to those who call on His name.

  6. We are praying for you!

  7. Our heavenly Father above gives us strength, wisdom and so much more. I know he is with you and your family. You have such a heart and your Dad must be so proud of you. I’ll be praying for you.

  8. Praying for you and asking various prayer chains to add your family to their list.

  9. Praying for your dad and your whole family. Asking God for a clean scan and His perfect peace.

  10. We’re all praying hard for your dad and all of you== sending lots of love!- The Parente Clan

  11. May God’s peace and grace wrap you securely as you wait. May the test results bring reason for rejoicing and a new chapter to your testimony of God’s healing power.

  12. Matthew, what a fitting bunch of thoughts. You and all of yours are in our prayers. We will look for a report as soon as you are able……”Keep calm and carry on”…….and know we are keeping calm with you. Grace and Peace.

  13. Thank you Matthew. Hal , I pray that God will continue to keep you in His care and see you through this rough time. I pray that God will bless Melanie and give her unbelievable strength and courage and wisdom. I pray for the children to all have Peace and true Faith. Love you all so very much. You all are such a treasure to me.

  14. Praying for your dad and your family. God bless you all. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Lord we ask for mercy and grace in this time of need. We pray for a clean report and strengthened faith and hope in Your word. Grant the peace that surpasses all understanding and that can only come through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

  16. Praying for all of your hearts to be strengthened and your faith increased. I am praying for Hal right now!!!! Thank you for the ministry your family has had to me just through the internet!

  17. Praying for Hal and the entire family!

  18. Thank you for sharing with us and I pray for strength for you and your family during this time.

  19. Matthew, please convey my love to your parents and siblings. I’m praying for you all. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  20. Praying for you all…Matthew thanks for sharing your heart and concerns…Mr. Hal…May God wrap you in His tender loving arms and watch over you to keep you…Praying for an accurate and good report back from scan tomorrow. Love in Jesus and prayers, Mrs. Nancy

  21. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll be praying for all of you. If you want a natural and highly effective cancer protocol let me know and I can send you some information.

  22. You are a man from within your Father’s spirit. He has sharpened your sword. Be thankful & greatful you were given such blessings in life. The rest is yet to come. Leave the “worry” up to God for in our weakness he makes us strong.

    Hug your mother for me, Holly.

  23. Matt, my friend, this was beautifully written…I can relate to your fears/trust, though my emotions were definitely not as fully thought-out since I was only 12 when my mom was diagnosed with cancer.
    We will surely keep your dad and all of you in our prayers.

  24. Thanks Kelsey!

  25. Dear friends, May I pray for you? Dear Heavenly Father, I remember when I received my diagnosis of cancer, and how that night my mind went wild before anyone else knew and prayer chains had been activated. Please help this dear family to take their thoughts captive to the Lord Jesus Christ. Please press in with a palpable sense of your presence, and fill them with that joy in the midst of crisis and sorrow which is unexplainable, except for You. Dear Father, please make Hal’s scan clear. Smart, capable, skilled medical professionals have seen things before which You have made disappear, and we ask you for this now. We praise You in advance for what You’re going to do. For what You can do, for Who You are, and for the Love You’ve shown to the Young family and how You’ve used them, we praise You. We pray for comfort and peace and for a mighty working in their lives now. Hal and Melanie and family, we love you, and we’re praying for you. Sending bear hugs to you now. Lots of love, the Gunn family

  26. We are praying with you ! May God ease your fears and bless you all once again with HIS mighty grace…Erik and Marian Soderholm

  27. Praying for all of you.

    Love you,

  28. praying!

  29. Praying indeed. Your family is such a blessing to all and a beacon off hope in these days of trial.

  30. Your family is always in our prayers! MUch love

  31. Praying for your family today.

  32. The Kellys are praying in Sutter!!

  33. Praying for all of you and that God will be glorified as you all walk through this.

  34. This is good. I am praying for your family. I needed to read this myself. Thank you!

  35. Hallelujah! We serve a mighty God!

  36. Praise God for the clean scan!! Thank you Jesus!

  37. I will pray for God to keep pouring His Grace into you and your family.

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