I sat on the floor in a room full of friends that suddenly felt like strangers.
I felt naked, stripped, as they all looked intently at me; waiting for me to continue on.
It was November 13, 2014- the day before my birthday.
It was also November 13, 2014- the day before the neurologist appointment that brought to light pieces of the Lord’s plan for our family.
I had not yet shed one tear. I was in such a state of denial that my brain could not even begin to fixate on the truth of what was happening, and, “Everything will be fine” and, “It’s nothing serious.”
“I just…” Lump in my throat bigger than an avalanche.
“I guess you should pray…” Silence.
“I just don’t want this to be happening and I don’t want anything to be wrong!” The avalanche, out from within, poured out on the floor. My shoulders were shaking from how violently I was weeping; and suddenly, I had no control over the fact I felt naked and stripped, nor did I care anymore.
Our small group did all they could- gathered around me and simply prayed. Some prayed for healing, others for peace. The miracle in that moment was that the tears stopped, I took a deep breath in, and pulled it together in a matter of minutes.
I still feel like that same avalanche stays somewhere inside. It has yet to come out as powerfully as it did that night, despite many, many more appointments, hards and deep-seated griefs.
From that point forward, I spent at least six months begging God to heal our girls.
Little did I know, He was doing something much greater.
He was healing the souls of many through their sufferings.
As time has gone on, He has performed a larger miracle than pulling my emotions together that night on our living room floor.
He has transformed my desires, given me new eyes, so much so that my prayer has changed.
I no longer pray for earthly healing for our girls. His Spirit within begs for much greater things.
I simply pray for God to continue to use their little, glorious lives to make Him known.
This prayer He has answered according to His perfect will- yes, yes, yes.
The remainder of this post is going to soothe the hearts of those who have walked it and step on the toes of those who simply don’t want to see it.
Believe me, there are truths in God’s Word that I, point blank, don’t always like hearing.
Submit to your husband.
Put others’ needs before your own.
Love your enemies.
Make internal beauty the focus, not external.
These are hard things; things my flesh writhes against.
He asks that I hear them anyway.
So today, I am praying you would open your heart to meditate on a few things that I believe God desperately needs His children to soak in.
As a Christ follower, what is your prize?
Now, the Sunday School answer is clearly Jesus Himself.
Yet- do we live like this? Do we pray like this? Do we desire this for the people closest to us? More of Him and less of ourselves.
And- are we willing to walk through the suffering in order to attain the prize?
Most “Church people” would be quick to say yes to this one- but is this the culture we have set up in our communities?
More often than not, in our small group, I find us praying for the wants of our flesh rather than the perspective of the Spirit.
We pray for earthly healing. We ask for disease to be taken away. We want the miracle that we see on this side of heaven instead of claiming the truth that the true miracle is that whatever we are walking through- if it involves suffering, sin, or death- was ultimately destroyed at the cross.
Do we want to spend our “meantime” asking God to make us comfortable and safe and happy during our short days here; or do we want to spend our “meantime” asking Him to make us more like Himself?
Scripturally speaking, isn’t our ultimate goal that the nations would know Him? That His name would be known and souls would be won- not bodies fixed or earthly comforts attained?
“We know that for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose, all things work together for good.”- Romans 8:28
This becomes our silent mantra when trials appear. It was mine. I remember journaling, so confidently, that He was going to work out our girls’ suffering for His good. And He has. He continues to. What I didn’t take into account then that He has given me the grace to see now is that His ways are so completely different from mine.
Friends, I want to tell you that I will pray for healing for you. And from an eternal perspective, you can bet I will. I will storm the gates of heaven and intercede on behalf of your soul- so much so that when it comes to whatever trial God has allowed to come into your life, I will simply pray that you see more of Him in it all. This isn’t exactly the prayer warrior many of us desire. Yet, if the goal- if the prize- is more of Jesus, and if His ways are not our ways, then it would seem that the loving prayer is always going to put God in the center and our temporary circumstances to the side.
Do I believe that God performs miracles?
Absolutely. If I didn’t, I would not believe He was Sovereign and Almighty and as Other as He is.
Yet, taking on an eternal perspective, I just want to suggest that maybe we should pray less for trials to stop and more for us to see Him in the trial.
More of Him, less of me.
For my friends who have lost parents and children and siblings and friends- He is working for the good of those who love Him.
For those whose infertility has not ended in a baby, despite many prayers for that to be the case- He is working for the good of those who love Him.
For the person whose cancer has not or did not end in earthly healing- He is working for the good of those who love Him.
It is not because He loves some more or some less. It isn’t because they had more people praying than you. It’s certainly not because your faith was too weak. No. We will never know the why’s behind His choices on this planet; but what we can know is this: He is good. He is Sovereign. He loves us fiercely and if you know Jesus- eternal healing awaits.
Joni Eareckson Tada says it this way, “Sometimes God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves…anyone who takes the Bible seriously agrees that God hates suffering. Jesus spent most of His time relieving it. But when being healed becomes the only goal-‘I’m not letting go until I get what I want’- it’s a problem.”
Maybe the miracle you need to ask for is the one that could be performed in your heart- the one that says, “Though you slay me, yet I will praise you”. (Job 13:15). The change of heart that, despite sheer pain and emotional toil, chooses to cling to the Savior.
Which is harder- saying, “God is so good!” when the suffering stops; or trusting, “God is good” when it continues?
I can promise you this- because Ally and Bailey Grace’s special needs, Hugh and I have an eternal handicap to God that we are forever grateful for.
It’s not always easy. Some days- like yesterday-are really, really hard. I spent a lot of yesterday crying. I was frustrated with the seizures, stressed out with our medications, discontent with my day, and mainly just stomping my feet at God and His plans. It was simply a bad day. But God. He carried me through it. And you know what?
Even our worst days on earth are worth it for the promise of the prize of eternity with the Lord. He is worth it.
Today, may the words of the Psalmist be true in each of our lives- may we, “Put our hope in God” and may our hope not be in what He does but simply in who He is. May we trust Him to be God and believe that He will always offer us limitless amounts of Himself and know that is enough. May external circumstances and desires be trumped by internal transformation and Godly fixation on His glory and His glory alone- no matter what His answers to our prayers might be. He is faithful in all things.
He is our Prize.
All glory to Him and Him alone.