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Living by FaithLiving by Faith

Living by Faith

Often, we do not realize what we have put our trust in until those things have failed us. As Convivium contributor Dan Chook Reid navigates his cancer diagnosis, he and his family forgo fear and embrace risk, discovering how God stretches and strengthens them.

Dan Chook Reid
5 minute read

This piece was originally published on Dan's blog.

But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” - Mark 5:36

To some extent, all of us live by faith. Whether we are putting our trust in our investments, a partner, a business plan or a new diet; all of us rely on things in a world where we have little control. In small ways or in critically large ways, we all put trust in things for a sense of security or out of necessity. Often, we do not realize that we have done it or are even aware of what we have put our trust in. It is often in those moments where those things have failed us that we realize we have relied on them.

In many ways, Melody and I are moving more and more into the unknown. We are needing to trust more than ever before. As I recover from surgery, we are grateful to be through this round of cancer treatment and look ahead to what may lie ahead. As we do that, we are less certain than ever what the future may hold.

It is difficult to make plans. We have no certainty regarding my health. We cannot know if my cancer will return in a manner of months or if it will be years. Doctors speculate but have been clear that they have no idea what might happen and how long we have until the cancer may come back. In many ways, our family needs to seize each moment, reach for big goals, seek to maximize our impact, and invest deeply into relationships. We do this while being humbly aware that at any point we may be facing a cancer diagnosis again and ensuring that we have spent quality time with each other and the kids.

Even though each time I receive a CT scan we face the hard reality that my cancer may have returned, I do not want us to live our lives paralyzed by fear. We press ahead, not knowing what is next. We become cognizant, again, of the topic of trust and where we are putting our security. We try to be faithful to the lifestyle and values that we feel God has invited us to pursue and need to help each other believe that He will be good to us. So far we have consistently been taken care of. Why doubt that this experience may be change in the future?!

Throughout this experience, I realize that I really value risk and not just choosing safety and security. Somewhere along the way, the message that Jesus leads us out of complacency and into a grand adventure has gone deep into the very fibre of my bones. I am not looking to settle, go into cruise control and watch the days go by. As we look to the road ahead, I continue to orient my life to decision-making that causes me to rely on a higher power to help me, that forces me to engage with my own weakness, and stretches me. Like a skydiver relying on the past successes of her parachute reliably guiding her to safety that empowers her to boldly jump from the plane again and again; my past experiences of venturing into the unknown have caused me to believe that taking risks and living in a manner where we need God to show up and meet us is essential for my spiritual growth. Through this season of prolonged suffering, I am increasingly aware of my finite nature and my utter dependence on God in even the smallest things.

In summary, I believe risk can help deepen one’s faith. Stepping out and risking creates opportunity for learning, even if that means failure. However, when taking a chance goes well, it brings joy. Furthermore, when we see God meet us in our need in some beautiful and profound way, it provides a tangible experience we can rely on in times of doubt. As our faith grows, it can encourage us to say yes to the next set of risks, that is as long as we do not give in to the temptation to just check out or grab a bag of chips and watch Netflix until our brain turns to mush!

As I face my mortality and my fears again in this season, I am more determined than ever to live a life where faith is required and risk is the norm. As we discern next steps in terms of my employment, fear says that I should choose something safe, secure and stable. Fear says that I should only plan short-term and shy away from investing in new relationships. Fear says that I should travel the world and live selfishly, accumulating experiences for myself that somehow I deserve or am entitled to (though I am not opposed to making some phenomenal memories with Melody and the boys). As I consider all these things, the option of starting a faith community in the downtown of Ottawa continues to resonate. In lots of ways, I do not know if it is wise to start a new thing but I do know that we would need God desperately and that it could bring joy. At the end of the day, I am not in control. I have no way of knowing the future or what may happen. I have little ability (besides eating healthily and exercising) to save my own life or extend my time on earth. I can however, trust in one greater than myself to lead me and guide me. As I do that I trust that if his character is truly good and full of love, that I and the ones I love will be okay. Hopefully Jesus’ teaching is true when he says that a little faith can move mountains.

As you read, do you agree? Do we all put our faith in something? Is it wise, responsible or healthy to consciously choose to orient your life where you need the very thing that you are trusting to be true or you would end up on your face? I feel that as one who has chosen to follow Jesus, there is no other option. If God is not who he said he is, I am screwed. I may as well keep implementing his words and teachings, discovering if it is true. He has not let me down yet! What have you put your faith in?

Thank you to all of those who have supported us so beautifully in this last season. Melody and I have felt incredibly loved and above all else, we know we are not alone. Thank you for the food, the cards, the gifts, the cash, the visits and the encouragement. We are blessed beyond belief.

“One of life’s difficult assignments is living with uncertainty. To leave the future in God’s hands without demanding a detailed road map requires unusual trust. I believe “faith” involves making a decision to trust God and place my future in his hand. It’s acceptance of not knowing, of not being certain of everything but of being absolutely confident of him. Doubts can exist, but they don’t affect the decision to trust; they only affect my emotional capability to FEEL confident all the time.” (Everyday Strength, Randy Becton) 

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Dan Chook Reid 

Dan is a husband, father, and pastor living in Ottawa Canada. He and his wife live in community with 5 others in the Glebe. He loves his neighbourhood and actively volunteers with his community association and local YMCA.

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