We Don’t All Get the Miracle (for my friend who is facing death)

glasses-1004311_640We don’t all get the miracle.

We know this. We know, because we’ve lived on this planet, that not every prayer is answered the way we want, that not every Christian lives a rosy existence this side of glory, that some of us die young despite every intercession.

It doesn’t sit well, though, does it?

When God’s faithful ones endure relentless trial, when they suffer, when they don’t receive the check in the mail or deliverance from the sword or cure from the disease or rescue at the last minute, we don’t handle it well. We weep, we plead, we rail, we protest, we agonize, we go silent, we grieve, and we ask questions. Why, God? Why Holy Father? Where were you for this daughter? Why did you not protect this son?

Did we not pray enough or correctly? What if we’d had more people praying – does that make the difference? Was it to teach some sad lesson or because of someone’s sin? Were you busy on that day when my loved one fell, when I needed a positive diagnosis, when the gunman came to my village? I know you love me but, perhaps there are children you like more. Is that the key?

We believe in miracles. We’ve witnessed them, read of them, taught of them, told of them. We know you are God Almighty and there is no other. Your power is limitless, your love boundless, your mercy endless, and your peace flows like rivers, but I do not sail that river today. Today in this room, my loved one learned her days are few, my parents were killed before my eyes, I was taken captive and sold to strangers far from rescue, my grandfather was unjustly sent to a labor camp, my daughter learned her husband was unfaithful, my son lost his child. I am in the valley of dry bones and I hear no rattles. All I feel is the heat of death and loss rising from the sand at my feet and I fall to my knees, pounding the earth with my pain, why, why, why?

But, inside we know.

We know we reside in a fallen world where our own sinful choices poisoned our fruitful existence and that all will not be set to right until Jesus war-953246_640comes again. We know this is true. We live on the greater truth that Jesus has redeemed us for eternity. One day this life will be a small square on a larger quilt.

We know that if every Christian received a miracle, if you answered all our prayers just as we desired, if you spared us from every earthly suffering, people would come to You for the miracle and not for You. We’re here for the Life, for Jesus, for the wonder of You in all your glory and we trust You. If the way to your great heart is through this suffering, we will follow knowing You will never leave us nor forsake us. None of us suffers in vain.

We know that You can use us for your glory alive and free, captive and imprisoned, or even after we’ve died. We know this because we’ve heard the voices of others who followed You through torture, disease, and martyrdom. We continue to learn from them – how to suffer, how to press into Your great heart in the darkest hour, how to pray, how to live in the shadows, how to love under duress, how to die well. And with this knowledge, our loved ones comfort others, bring the lost to You, further Your kingdom, strengthen their own faith, and wear us on their hearts until that day we are reunited forever.

sorrow-699608_640We know that if do not receive the miracle, it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It doesn’t mean you love us less. It isn’t a sign that we’ve failed in our faith. Your dear cousin lost his head. Your disciples were martyred one by one except for John who labored in exile on Patmos, no small suffering to witness the martyrdom of many. You sent your own Son to this hard place to die. When we do not receive the miracle, we are not deprived because we still have all of You, Jesus. With us in life. With us in death. With us forever more.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—  who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection.

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—  of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:32-40sunset-50494_640

When we do not receive the miracle, we find that God has provided us something better. On this side of glory, we cannot imagine anything better than the miracle but when it does not come, we step into the True Life of Him – and that Life can never be taken from us.

On the other side, our suffering will fall from us like rags, all memory of our captivities, diseases, and torture will fade in an instant, and with the first intake of air in glory we will exhale every why we uttered on earth, for we will be home and the adventure will just be beginning.

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17 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. This will a powerful post to share on the fb wall still open for my niece, Jennifer, who lost her battle with cancer leaving her 3 children orphans. Orphans because their dad died just past his 40th year as he was buried alive at a construction site a few short years before Jennifer passed away. The kids are struggling. My sister is struggling. Another niece, Leah, lost her husband to a sudden heart attack at 50. He also left three broken hearted children behind. Your message is just what they need. It’s one of a deeper faith and future hope. I appreciate your heart, Lori, and the way you honor the gift you’ve been give. Thank you and God bless.

  2. Sandra Lovelace says:

    Amen.

  3. Cyn Rogalski says:

    Yes. He will not leave us, even when we don’t understand; can’t comprehend Your timing.

  4. robin luftig says:

    Very insightful, Lori. Through my own experiences, it’s been incredibly difficult not asking the dreadful question, “why”. A book that helped me through a dark time was Steven Furtick’s “Sun Stand Still”. It changed my life.

    Praying for your friend.

  5. Anna says:

    I have persevered through the untimely suffering and death of a brother and the slow, graduale fading away over years of a mother I still care for but the worst is the unexpected twist of the knife, the backstabbing betrayal of a “Christian friend” whom I was trying to encourage and help through their time of personal despair. I cannot smile, nor talk. I would gladly trade places with someone who is about to lose his head..Better for both of us.

  6. Carla says:

    Casting Crowns sings a song that has brought me such hope: “Even if the healing never comes/And life falls apart and dreams are still undone/You are God, Forever Faithful One even if the healing never comes.” God is putting together a peculiar people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood that will stand with the martyrs, showing the world there is more to life than comfort and safety. The glory that awaits us cannot be measured. The Wisdom of God will show us this–I pray we are smart enough to listen. Good stuff, Lori.

  7. Cathy Gohlke says:

    Tears came somewhere near the beginning of your post, Lori, and are still streaming. Not for me. I’ve lived long and experienced and live the miracle of His love and mercy day by day. Amazing, amazing and undeserved grace. But for loved ones and for those around the world suffering things too horrible to name . . . I no longer ask, “Why?”–even for them. I know there are battles seen and unseen and I know that God grasps all–He’s not on vacation– and from the viewpoint of eternity, something I cannot approach. I don’t blame Him for the horrors we’ve brought on ourselves, or for our broken, diseased world, or for the fallout we each walk into.
    What you said, “When we do not receive the miracle, we are not deprived because we still have all of You, Jesus. With us in life. With us in death. With us forever more.” This is what I pray for my dear ones–to know Him, to trust Him, to let down the walls of fear and unbelief and to step into Life with Him–that is healing for all eternity, and makes all the difference now.
    Thank you, Lori. You’ve blessed me today and reminded me where my heart burdens belong.

  8. Anna S. says:

    Reading this again brings deeper meaning for me. When my brother was dying in hospice 4 years ago this month I sent out regular emails to his friends and witnessed to all the miracles God was doing on my behalf to help me help him. Now my 94 year old Mom has only a few days or so to live and I have been sending a weekly email out to 12, mostly different friends. It is important that people, especially Christians, learn that death must be walked through hand in hand with Jesus just like the most happy, Wonderful parts of life. If we trust in God’s best for our lives it is absurd to think our prayers will always be answered in the way we think we want. I am closer to God for having been a day by day caregiver the past 4 years. We are spirit and soul living in a temporary tabernacle of flesh and blood. This world is NOT our home. We are just passing through. Death has no victory unless the world is more important to us than the Word of God which promises a glorious life everlasting through the shed blood of Jesus. Christian writing markets seem to prefer “happy endings where man’s efforts at praying well enough are rewarded by longer temporal life.” Yes I too have seen God perform temporal miracles. But fallen man makes a grave mistake when he elevates these miracles above God Himself. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart. To lean NOT unto our own understanding. That means pray yes, of course, but walk by faith not by sight. And love not the world even the things of this world. They are just props on the brief stage of our temporal life.

  9. Pam Glover says:

    In my recent experience the pain was barely tolerable, and even though I knew the promises, and had experienced joy in trial in the past, I felt no sense of the sweet presence of Jesus. I felt I at least deserved that, and maybe expecting Jesus to be the consolation prize is so warped He withheld His presence.

    I’m still processing the “crisis”, grateful for physical relief but spiritually confused.

  10. Doris Campbell says:

    Thank you so much for this, another beautiful message. You had a God-given gift and I’m so thankful you are sharing it. I love your new book, about half way through savoring as I go. Blessings,

  11. Doris Campbell says:

    PS…my post should have read ‘You HAVE a God-given gift.’