John Piper said we advance through life with a limp. My neighbor walked that out literally and spiritually.
I’ll never forget the day Tom calmly told me, “I need to have my foot amputated.”
Tom explained his achy heel harbored a treatment-resistant bone cancer. Soon he endured the painful processes of surgery, stump care, strength training, and relearning to walk.
As Tom waited for his prosthesis, I wondered what encouragement I could offer. He and his wife trusted Christ implicitly. They had experienced God’s faithfulness in marvelous ways when they fled to the U.S. after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. What could I say that would truly make a difference? I prayed for a word of knowledge from the Lord.
It came from Luke 17:5.
Context: Jesus had just warned His apostles about upcoming temptations and what to do when they came. Interestingly, they didn’t ask Jesus for strength to withstand the trials. They asked Him to increase their faith.
Why would God give me that verse when Tom and his wife already had so much faith to begin with? Answer: a message embedded in the words.
In Luke 17:5, the Greek word for “increase” (prosthesemi) means to “join together for a purpose; to lay beside or annex something to reach a goal.” That’s exactly what Tom’s prosthetic foot would do for him: join to his leg below the knee so he could walk again. (Who knew that particular Greek word would become our English “prosthesis”? Well, God knew.)
The apostles essentially asked Jesus to give them a prosthesis for their faith.
When I shared that with Tom, he considered it great encouragement and used it as a conversation starter for sharing the Gospel with friends and hospital staff.
During Tom’s ordeal, I was critically ill and going through other upheavals. God asked me, “Do you truly take Me at My Word? Do you still believe I am good and want to bless you beyond your imagination, regardless of your circumstances?” And the toughest question of all: “Can you say with gratitude, ‘God is enough’—when all else is stripped away?”
Tom’s walk encouraged me to press closer to God.
Tom had a prosthesis. And prosthetic faith.
That taught me three huge lessons:
(1) We can’t engineer or add to our faith. We must ask God to do it for us.
(2) Prosthetic faith isn’t a one-and-done proposition. We continually need to ask God to enlarge our faith. Lay more tracks. Annex more footage. Add on to what’s there so we can reach the goal of fulfilling God’s plans for us.
(3) The more we lean on God’s prosthetic faith for us, the stronger our walk with Him will become.
Dwight L. Moody says true faith is weakness leaning on God’s strength.
Tom walked that out. Literally. When he first learned to use his prosthesis, he was too weak to lean his full weight on it. But, as his strength grew, his faith in his ability to walk again did too. He regained the strength to take short hikes with his wife. Yet he still walked with a limp.
Living with a limp lets us live beyond it—somehow unleashing blessings God wouldn’t bestow on us otherwise. We may see that only in part this side of heaven, but we can be certain of its truth. As our faith grows, it fully persuades us that we can walk with strength and confidence whatever path God lays out for us.
This is the third anniversary of Tom’s homegoing … a loving reminder to ask God for prosthetic faith.
Tweetable: God grows prosthetic faith in us to help us live beyond our limps.
(Adapted from Lana’s article that originally appeared in Christian Devotionals January 18, 2020. Article written with permission and love from Tom’s widow.)