Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Fog of Faith

Photo by Tobin Rogers
It is very early in the morning as I peer out my window at the Chesapeake Bay. The scene is unusual as I notice the air is calm and the familiar lights of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel are no longer visible. I know in my mind that the 20-mile long monumental structure is still out there but a dense and eerie fog has rolled in, obscuring it from view.

An involuntary yawn rolls over me and I am alarmed by a sensation deep in my gut. I've felt that before... when my liver was palpably swollen with multiple cancerous growths. I test it by taking another deep breath, then simply lean forward and there it is once more. Further self examination reveals tenderness high in the epigastrium. Yesterday, there was no such discomfort.

Here I thought my opponent was on the ropes, when he comes bounding back to land a punch in the gut. So now I begin to doubt, and the confidence I had regarding complete healing begins to erode. I ruminate on the "what if"...

John the Baptist knew what I am talking about. (Luke 7:19-21) He has introduced the world to "The Lamb of God", he has heralded in no uncertain terms the coming of the Messiah in the person of this carpenter from Nazareth. Now he is in a dark dank dungeon, his head about to be separated from his body, when he sends a message to Jesus: "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" I can imagine his honest misgivings.

How does Jesus respond? Does He castigate him for entertaining such doubts? Without condemnation, He simply instructs John's disciples to "Go and report to John what you hear and see" and then sings his praises in superlative terms: "Among those born of women there is no one greater than John..." Jesus' response to doubt: "Remember my words; contemplate my miraculous deeds."

Interestingly, He does not rescue John from prison, nor lobby against his mistreatment, nor intervene at his beheading. He points him to evidence that his mission (and his faith) was valid and not misplaced. He honors John's honest doubts with assurance that he is beloved.

Frankly, I was expecting the fog... this fog of faith, this crisis of belief. If there were no fog, the faith would go untested. The pain in my gut is real. The contest is not yet over, but I will not be in terror of the mist. Whether the fog clears or not, I am confident the bridge is still there. I will listen to His remarkable words and take encouragement from His miraculous victory over death. And I am assured of His love.

May you be as well,

PS -- please see Linda's most recent blog entry on Courage and Surrender to get a very insightful perspective on faith from the standpoint of the spouse of a cancer patient.


  1. Dear Dan, as i listen to your words it reminds me of what i was sharing with you about last saturday on my way to Richmond where i was faced with failure of my walk, it seems that the closer we get to our ultimate goal of bringing others to the feet of Christ we are discouraged by our human-ness for lack of a better term. Then out of nowhere we get the encouragement from our loving and faithful Savior. I remember our last face to face how i was sharing with you about my question of "yeah but how long? i have been battling this for decades, how long before i see complete victory?" i want you to know Dan that i am so much more encouraged and at peace because of your lessons. Jesus Christ is so real and soooooo in charge. Much love and prayer goes out to you and Linda.

    john quain & family

  2. Dear Dr Crabtree, I just wanted you to know that I have been one of your followers on your blog. You are in my prayers everyday and you and your family are truly inspirational. God bless you and your family during your journey.

    Robin Falk

  3. Dear Dr. Crabtree,

    It's so easy for those of us who are not walking in your shoes to tell you to keep the faith. It is obvious that you are faithful, but it understandable if you have a hard time seeing the bridge for the fog. What I find so amazing is your ability to help us by your writings. You find a way to say just the right words at just the right times. You are putting your gift to great use. Thank you for sharing your faith and your cancer story. I hope you get as much out of positng your blogs as we do reading them. You are an inspiration!

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful servant, Dr. Crabtree. Thank you for sending him to share in our lives. Lord, I ask you to pour out your love to Dr. Crabtree to give him the strength to heal completely and to continue sharing his story and his love for you. Lord, I accept your will -- whatever it is that serves you and fits in your plan for us. I ask this in the name of your precious son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    In constant hope,
    Jenny Richards

  4. Hey Doc, I pray for you just as you have done for me when I was so sick.
    I miss seeing, but I wish you and you family the best.
    God Bless you!

  5. Dear Dr. Dan,
    Mikey and I have really been praying for you. I told one doctor that I believe in miracles, and I still do. I know God will see you through, and we want you to know we love and miss you.
    Love, Kaye

  6. Dear Dan, what i have to share with you is a miracle, as you know i have been struggling with a personal demon of anger for soooo long. Tonight when i driving back from Richmond it was business as usual except no matter who cut me off, or what rudeness was displayed to me it did'nt matter. I have been praying for this for soo long, and it was the bigggest high i have ever experienced. Even the hard music did'nt bother me, i was actually feeling sad for the the Dj's and the musicians because of their anger and frustration and hatred, and their scoffing of anything pure in their lyrics. it was amazing! System of a Down, Suicial Tendencies, Disturbed, all sounded the same, it was amazing! i actually felt sorry for them because they don't know Jesus, all i could think of was Praising Jesus, I kept Praising Him, over and over and over again. The more i did it, i felt it! it was Real! nothing mattered at all except the Praising. I firmly believe that i never ever would have felt this if it wasn't for you and your painful journey. By you sharing your poetry and joyfulness and horrific body changes i relaize that nothing matters except Christ! these past couple of weeks has created a calm in me that i can't discribe. I firmly believe that Christ has given me you and your words as a vessel that has created a new life inside my cold and hollow body. I know nothing matters except Christ and bringing others to Christ. Thank You Dan, i just wanted you to know your journey has changed my life.

    john quain

  7. I heard a song once that said something to the effect of, "When your faith is weak, you can borrow mine." I often believe God gives me faith times two when I'm praying for someone. And I'm praying for you!!!

    Kristen (Hawley) Stapp

  8. Dr. Crabtree, I could not put my feelings into better words than those posted by Jenny Richards (whom I have not met.) Her words and prayer are so fitting. I check for a new blog several times a day (yours or Linda's) and eagerly await new information. As so many have said, Thank you so much. You may never know how many people have been helped and their christian walk enriched. My prayers are with and for you. Donna

  9. Dear Dr. Dan,

    my name is Achim, I am from Germany, 27 years old and a friend of your brother Don. He told me about your blog and I decided to leave this short message.
    At first, some words to who I am: During their time in Germany Don and his family lived in Kleinsteinhausen and in those days became good friends with my parents. Since I was a small boy in those days, I called your brother “Uncle Don” – and still do so. Even if I haven’t seen him for years, I try to sustain our friendship via email. So that’s story.
    You probably met my mother. Her name is Inge. She is a blond lady, 50 years old and was in the United States for Patti’s and Carrie’s wedding (or at least at one of them).


    As we both don’t know each other, I hope that it is “ok” for you that I write these lines.

    I just would like to say, how amazingly impressed I am by your strength and your faith. Me and my family want to let you know, that we pray for you and your wonderful family.

    Good thoughts and prayers from Germany!

    Achim Rohr

  10. Dan, Uncle Bill here. I have tried to post comments, and have no idea if I was successful. My concern is the progression of your treatments and their success. Seems, every time I write, you are headed for another procedure. "type the characters you see in the picture above" ?-what purpose could that possibly serve. Oh well....