For the past two weeks I have been working on another post about prayer. However, the events that have taken place in my life over the past two weeks have not allowed me the time or mental concentration it takes to write the things I want to share with you.
I spent last weekend celebrating my son’s 7th birthday. We had a fun-filled weekend. I sent up many prayers thanking God for allowing me to have seven years with such an amazing little boy. We returned from our trip on Sunday afternoon exhausted but sometimes the exhaustion is worth it!
Then I awoke Monday morning to a phone call. My cousin’s husband, Don, was in the hospital with heart problems. As I always do I sent up prayers for his speedy recovery, wisdom for the doctors, and strength and comfort for his wife Sharon (my cousin) and their adult children. Since they live near me, I was able to spend the evening with them in the ICU waiting room. Things looked good. Serious but stable. I left to go home and prayed all the way home for their family. My husband and I prayed together before I headed to bed.
That’s how our family rolls (when I say family…I am talking about a circle of 13 cousins and their families…the number has gotten so big I don’t even know how many of us there are in our ‘family.’) I have seen miracle after miracle occur in our family because we are a family that prays. Cancer has been healed. Broken hearts mended. I had no doubt that God was working and indeed Don would be out of that hospital and able to finally put the finishing touches on the log cabin he and my cousin Sharon are in the process of building together. I believed. My faith was strong enough to move mountains……
Yet, the phone call came early. Don had passed away in the night. As it always is with the death of someone you love, I was in shock and disbelief. We prayed. We believed. We had faith. This shouldn’t have happened.
I have spent the past week doing things that no one really wants to ever have to do. I drove to the local airport in the late hours of the night to pick up Sharon’s twenty something year old daughter-in-law. Sharon’s son had been able to get on an early flight so that he could race home to his mother. I helped Sharon’s daughter proofread Don’s obituary. Something a 29 year old daughter should never have to do…type up her daddy’s obituary.
This morning I sat reading my Bible. I asked God ‘why?’ Why had our prayers for healing and protection not been answered?
Honestly, deep in my mind and heart I already knew the answer. My theology is well grounded. I know all the Scriptures that will answer this ‘why?’ question. However, I still needed to ask.
I felt that I should share this with you…it is something I read this morning in one of my favorite theology books from seminary, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. Since I don’t think I could word it any better myself, I will just include an excerpt from this book. If you have a lot of theological questions, I would encourage you to purchase this book…it is a little technical at some points, but I feel it is one of the easiest to understand theology books that I have ever read.
Why did Don pass away even though we prayed? Let me share Grudem’s words with you…
“Sometimes we think that one solution is best, but God has a better plan, even to fulfill his purpose through suffering and hardship. Joseph no doubt prayed earnestly to be rescued form the pit and from being carried off into slavery in Egypt, but many years later he found how in all of these events “God meant it for good”
When we face unanswered prayer, we join the company of Jesus, who prayed, “Father, if you are willing remove this cup form me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done” We join also the company of Paul, who asked the Lord “three times” that his thorn in the flesh be removed, but it was not; rather, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). We join the company of David, who prayed for his son’s life to be saved, but it was not so he “went into the house of the Lord and worshiped” and said of his son, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:20,23) We join the company of martyrs (those who die for their faith in Jesus) throughout history who prayed for deliverance that did not come.
When prayer remains unanswered we must continue to trust God, who “causes all things to work together for good” (Rom 8:28) and to cast our cares on him, knowing that he continually cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We must keep remembering that he will give strength sufficient for each day (Deut. 33:25) and that he has promised, “I will never fail you or forsake you” (Heb 13:5; cf. Rom. 8: 35-39). [pp.391-392 Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem]
I have no doubt that the Spirit of God is working even now to carry out His perfect will that He used my cousin Don to accomplish. Don was a teacher and football coach and lived out his faith to the young people he worked with on a daily basis. Tomorrow morning the church will be packed with former and current students who will hear the Gospel preached and see a family (the family I am blessed to call my own 🙂 ) praise our Heavenly Father admist the pain of death.
So my friends be encouraged by this ponytail princess whose eyes are swollen from all the tears and whose heart is aching because of the pain. God is in control. He is still working all things together for good. And joy will come in the morning. That is why I pray.
Now, go order Wayne Grudem’s book. You will not be disappointed!