And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 KJV)
My family knows that praying I will thank God “in all things”. By this I mean that I thank God that he works all things to bring good, even though all things are not good. The origin of this was in 2008. We were on a wonderful vacation in Colorado with my brother and sisters. Yet, every time I prayed that year, the Holy Spirit would say “rest in me”. My response was puzzlement, because I already did, or so I thought.
Then in 2009, I lost my job of 18+ years. No worries, I thought, headhunters have been after me for years, so a month, 6 months at the worst, and I’ll be employed again. Two years would pass before that happened. During that time, my pride was humbled as even local gas stations and fast food would not hire me. God provided for us: help from family, particularly my oldest sister; yet, again and again I’d be amazed at how people would come up and give us some money and I’d protest saying that we were fine. They would insist and then it would turn out I’d made a mistake on the bank account or some unexpected expense would occur. Then after countless resumes, job applications, on site interviews, phone interviews, even an email interview—all fruitless, a phone call came out of the blue. A former coworker wanted to know if I was still looking for work because there was an opening at the university. A month later, I was on the job. God carried us through that time, teaching me to look to Him day by day, for that day.
But now I’m looking farther back to 1979, when my mother died of cancer. This rocked me to my core and I was angry at the Lord for 20 years. You see, we had been taught in church that believing prayer is receiving prayer. Much prayer went up for mom and she had gone into remission. Then, after a few short months she had a seizure. I knew what this meant–the cancer was in her brain. Doctors confirmed this and said she had 3 months to live. I prayed constantly, asking the Lord to heal her, asking him to take me instead, anything but let her die. That 3 months seemed to stretch out so long that it seemed far longer, it seemed that surely mom was being healed, God was going to heal her…but in 3 months she had died. I was deeply angry, angry at God, angry at the family doctor who misdiagnosed the cancer as arthritis for so long, angry at everyone. Bitterness filled my heart and I vomited it out all around me.
This bitterness continued even into our marriage. In 1999, our marriage was in dire straits because of my anger and bitterness. And then two things happened: the Holy Spirit convicted me and broke my anger; and Lisa unexpectedly became pregnant with a baby boy. God healed our marriage, saving it, and part of the way he did it was sending Christopher. It was not an easy pregnancy. Doctors told us Christopher was a Down’s syndrome baby, severely mentally and physically handicapped, and strongly pressured us to abort him. We prayed, and the Lord healed Christopher of any trace of it. Chris still had issues as a baby–he was born with a telescoping bowel–it would hurt him so badly he would cry and scream in pain inconsolably for up to an hour or more. It was heartbreaking to be around. The Lord slowly healed him of it and healed our marriage–Christopher was His gift to us.
And now Christopher is gone. Doctors told us that even if he survived, he would be severely handicapped, mentally and physically, neither capable of walking or talking. As in over 40 years before, much prayer went up for Christopher, and for a time he seemed to be holding his own, possibly getting slightly better. During this time, I had been praying constantly in the hospital chapel, and had asked the Lord to show me something, anything. He sent a man, whose name I can’t remember, to come comfort and strengthen me. This man prayed with me and said the Lord told him to come tell me that He heard my prayer, that my son’s salvation is assured, and to encourage me to keep praying. Tears of joy came. Surely, this meant my prayer for Chris’s second miraculous healing would be answered. But he slowly slipped away, then went suddenly. At 10:30 pm on Feb 29th my oldest son, Matthew, flipped his ball cap around, grabbed Chris’s hand, and said, “Come on little brother, let’s rally!” Chris was gone shortly after.
And now here I am 41 years after the first time, feeling the same temptation to anger. Anger at God, anger at doctors, anger at everyone. But, then I remember: “all things”. All things work together for good. All things are not good things. This most assuredly is not. But the Lord is good and I am not. The Lord is God and I am not. The temptations come, the sorrow threatens to overwhelm, but God’s love is far greater than either. I know this to be true.
You see, because although my dad died when I was 5, my mother when I was 13, I have never been an orphan.
I know my Father and his love for me.