Ever prayed for something REALLY HARD (whatever that actually means) and it didn’t happen?
Ever think you heard a crystal clear message from God, then turn around and walk right into a brick wall?
I found myself in that place a couple weeks ago. And I wasn’t alone. My family had joined my sister Danielle and many of her close friends in prayer for a man we didn’t know. Jim. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But our Savior defeated death. He healed the sick. And He told us that we would do greater things than He had done while He was here. So Danielle and I, along with so many others began to pray. Personally, I prayed with more faith and confidence than I ever have before. And so many amazing things happened. Miracles happened. God gave amazing messages of power and faith to Jim and his family and to Danielle. And to me.
But Jim kept getting worse. It’s ok. We know the darkest night comes right before the dawn. God won’t share His glory—maybe He’s waiting until ONLY He can get the credit. I’d be ok with that. At that point, I actually stopped praying. Not because I didn’t believe anymore. Just the opposite. I stopped because I believed it was already done. I had a pretty strong assurance of that. I actually couldn’t pray in the Spirit anymore. To continue felt faithless. Like I didn’t believe Him. That was weird for me, but I trusted God with that.
Two days later, Danielle let me know that Jim had died.
I have to be honest. That confused the crap outta me. And I didn’t accept it because I felt like God had given me a different script. No improv, God!
It helps to have trustworthy brothers and sisters in Christ to be able to lean on when your legs wobble. Big props to Clemmy, Frank, Nikki, Melinda, Christopher, Lisa, Rick, Eric and Bellami. You guys listened to me and let me vomit all of that doubt and confusion in a safe place. You were the body of Christ to me. Thank you.
Conversations like those helped. I was encouraged to know others had wrestled with similar circumstances. And I felt like I was getting at least closer to where God wanted me on this, but I knew I was still totally missing it. Something was really off. I knew I was on the wrong track, but I had no idea how to get off or how to get on the right one.
And of course, I wasn’t the only one. Danielle took a few weeks to process Jim’s death, and the other she sent this email out to those of us who had prayed. It didn’t answer all of my questions, but it helped me. She gave me permission to include it in this post.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a place like the one I’ve been in lately, but if you have, I hope Danielle’s wisdom and faith and perspective will help you too.
Praise the One who has saved Jim from deathHi friends,Yesterday I was watching the weekend I had held my breath and waited for, fall apart, hour by hour, as plans were canceled and the snow I usually love, carried tears and anger with it. My heart has been a hurricane of emotions the last 2 weeks and I was looking to the 24 hrs of worship at church Fri-Sat and all the other big church services planned for the weekend, to renew my spirit and give me some answers on the storm of questions inside.We lit candles, put on worship music and soaked in truth and as I watched the snow falling with the glow of the street lights I thought about the beauty and grace of each snowflake. My mind turned to a lesson we had taught in Kingdom Heroes at church last month about how people, like snowflakes, are each made beautiful and perfectly unique, set apart and special, and that we are known to our Creator, that He called us by name before we were formed. And the quietness of peace began to wash over me, as I stared out the window, and let the truth that God sees me and all my confusion and emotions, I am known and seen and loved by Him, fall on me like the snow.Many of you have played that 3 question game at our house, “Whats your favorite color? favorite animal? and favorite part of nature” My answer to the last question has always been laying in deep, freshly falling snow at night. I love the way all noise is drowned out in that place, as you let the cold snow land on your face and watch the individual flakes float down. I love the way everything is reflecting moonlight and you can see even in the night…those moments growing up I felt wrapped in security, and peace that is hard to put words to but comes out in a smile of being completely present and knowing that right there in that quiet snow everything is good. There’s nothing but peace.That’s how I felt last night watching the snow that first was hurting my heart turn into its own gift with new truth and old memories from God.And thats what the last 4 months have been like.This journey with Tara, her family, and her Dad, Jim, has been tremendous in 1000 ways. If I had to count the ways God moved and worked and brought beauty I would go on and on but sometimes even in that truth we don’t find the comfort we are desperate for.I wanted to send a follow-up email because I know God is still moving and teaching but I promised myself 2 things, I was not going to say the Christian answers that make my own heart groan when I hear them, even though they are true, because they don’t seem to touch the pain of what feels like an “unanswered” prayer, and I WAS going to Thank Jesus and praise Him because He is always and forever good and wonderful. But only when that worship came from a deep, endless, genuine place in my heart.And yet all throughout the last 2 weeks the truth of God’s goodness has led to worship, so powerful it makes you sing and laugh and dance in the face of death.There have been nights with clenched fists and tears that hold so much pain, there has been fear, and question after question, but He is there in all of that confusion too, and day after day He speaks truth, He unravels more of Himself, more of His love, more of what He did, more of what He is still doing, and your faith suddenly has the chance to become real. What seemed like faith before, praising and trusting despite the circumstances getting harder and harder, now takes another step as you learn, God is good, and that doesn’t depend on any situation, or any action, it is just Him. It’s who He is in Himself.You can’t be too surprised that there were a few of us praying and believing for a physical resurrection, because once you believe in the impossible, how do you put a limit on it? Only God knows His plans and designs so why not just ask Him to do what He wants.I don’t understand it all. In fact I don’t know if I understand anything. But the peace comes in knowing I don’t have to, to know that God is good, He loves me, He loves Tara, He loves her family, He loves Jim, and He loves all of you guys.We sing “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior” and here I am deeper than I planned or wanted to be and yet it’s here, that I learn the heart of God in such a way that I feel like I must be His his favorite. I told God many times in the last 4 months, while praying for Jim, “don’t lead me down this path only to end up crying myself to sleep again,” And yet somehow, even though there have already been multiple nights of tears, I know that I would do it again and again and again because He is there the whole time, teaching and loving, There are 12 people that were healed at church the night we were in Seattle praying for Jim, there’s a man we met in a coffee shop who’s leg is healed, there is faith growing in hearts all around, there’s all of you on this email and what you thought and prayed and learned through it, God broke the fear and intimidation that was keeping me from praying for my own dear Aunt Joan who was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in December, and He freed me to pray healing for her with all my relatives on the email…Oh I love Him so much! I’m so thankful that He is letting me part of Jim’s story. I am thankful for Jim and his faith and love and strength that wrapped his family in comfort and me with them. I am thankful for Tara and her family letting Hannah and I be part of such a raw and intimate journey with them. How can I not love Jesus?! How can I not love Father God?So lastly, wanted to send this song. There are many that are dear to me right now but this is the one I want to send, because on Sunday February 8th, we sang this in church and Hannah and I, on opposite sides of the auditorium were both singing with Jim’s name in the song. We didn’t find out till late that night, but that Sunday morning was Jim’s first morning in heaven.Alive forever!Wow.“Praise the One who has saved Jim from death, He is God! He is Good! He is Jesus!”I love you Jesus.I love you all, so muchgoodnight everyone. Thank you for reading.“Let go my soul and trust in Him the waves and winds still know His voice” – It Is Well“Steady heart that keeps on going, steady love that keeps on hoping, steady faith that keeps believing, lead me on” – Steady Heart“Whisper my name, so only I can hear
Call to my heart, chase away my fears
Stand up in this place, fight for the one you loveWon’t you come surround me, so I can rise above.” – Explode My Soul“I stand with so many questions but you hold all of the answers, and whether this side of heaven I know you are the Healer.”“Finally ready now, to close my eyes and just believe that You won’t lead me where you don’t go.” – We Danceand on and on…songs come to life in our life…