Our youngest son Jack, who is now almost 8 years old, suffered the first eight months of his life with colic and acid reflux. Although he wasn’t severe enough to be considered “failure to thrive,” he was on the cusp. He couldn’t keep anything down, and cried in pain all night long, unable to sleep more than 2 hours at a time.
Needless to say, my husband Jeff and I failed to thrive at that point as well. Our sleepless and worried world was truly rocked. All of the modern medicines and diets Jack was prescribed didn’t alleviate his suffering at all. I have never researched anything more thoroughly in my life, and tried to control every little thing that was put in his little body, but it just kept getting worse.
I was at the end of my rope, the end of my solutions, and really at the end of my ability to do much of anything besides cry. The solution needed to go beyond me, into the hands of God. My supermommy-ness wasn’t cutting it anymore.
We at Desire Street have witnessed this phenomenon with so many leaders, and have all experienced a time ourselves, when a “failure to thrive” occurs.
We go along for quite some time, are very productive in our activities, and sometimes see signs of “moving the needle.” But, after a while, things begin to surface. Sometimes it shows up relationally, sometimes in communication, sometimes operationally in the organization. And over time it becomes clear, our skill set can only take us so far. And we begin to fail to thrive. The success of our own talents and ideas stop working, and great struggle occurs.
So what if I told you that, in order to thrive, you have to actually experience this “failure to thrive”?
Think about a moment of significant failure in your life. Before you failed to thrive, maybe you believed in your call more than you believed in your identity in Christ. Before you failed, maybe you believed in your training or spiritual gifting more than you believed you are grafted into Christ. Before you failed, maybe your passion wasn’t rooted in God, and you were unable to withstand the wind of change and conflict.
When you experience a failure to thrive, go to God with your pain and questions, and allow him to dig into your soul. Then the path to thriving can begin.
Desire Street exists to partner with leaders in developing thriving and sustainable urban ministries. Yes, we guide leaders in how to start up an inner-city ministry. Yes, we assist leaders in putting “preventive measures” in place to help them become strong and sustainable. But we cannot prevent failure to thrive. That’s in the Lord’s control. What we can do is encourage a leader when this moment occurs, and help them move from “failure to thrive” to “stability”, and eventually “thriving”, by helping them open their eyes, and discern the message that God is delivering to them.
Back to Jack. It was amazing how many people surrounded us in prayer and walked with us during that time. One of these prayer warriors helped me discern in my own heart the grip I had over the situation, and helped me to gently let go and trust a new path of healing for Jack. She led us to a Christian doctor who softly and harmlessly adjusted various places in Jack’s body, and in two sessions he was healed. Today you would never know he struggled. He is boisterous and rambunctious and all those good words that describe a typical 2nd grade boy.
But if you ask Jeff or me to recall those days, a shutter goes down our spines as we remember how much he and we really did suffer. Along with that shutter, an unfathomable peace also comes over us. God healed Jack. Not my research, or whatever special food we gave him. God. He delivered the miracle through a prayer warrior and a praying doctor. And to Him be the glory.
Miracles take place after we release our hold on situations we can’t control anyway. Sight was given to the blind man after Jesus asked him to ask for his sight. The Lord sometimes leads us to the end of our own so-called brilliance, so we can fall into His arms, exhausted and done, and then does He does His most magnificent miracles on our hearts.
That’s when the thriving begins!