When Friends Lay Dying and School Children are Shot Down

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My friend and your sister in Christ, Kate Hinke, entered hospice care this week. She has lived for Jesus, passionate about furthering God’s kingdom on earth and representing Him well in every aspect of her life. I wrote this post earlier this summer when she let me know the cancer treatments weren’t working. It’s here again today because others facing similar trials have found it touched them, It’s here because school children were shot in South Carolina. It’s here to ask you to pray for Kate and her family in the weeks to come. – mercy and grace, Lori

We 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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1 Comment

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  1. Kim Wilbanks says:

    A good word and very timely. Just spent a few days visiting with a cousin/friend/brother-in-Christ who is in experimental treatment for his cancer.