The last two weeks have been difficult. A beautiful, talented, dynamic 17 year old girl from the church where we had served for 12 years did not recover from an injury incurred from a skateboarding accident. As friends of the family and her former youth pastor, I was asked to speak at the service. She was an amazing young woman. I shed more tears in the last two weeks than the last five years. Almost 700 grieving teens, parents, and family members arrived seeking to find comfort and answers.
In the hospital, Haley’s parents and I, holding on to Haley, prayed for almost an hour on our knees weeping, crying out to the Lord of Heaven and of Earth for His healing touch. I recounted all the healings I had personally experienced and those recorded in the Bible. I believed He would answer.
I wanted God to perform a miracle. I wanted everyone to see God at work. I wanted all to know and experience, without any doubt, she was healed because of His power and compassion. “For your glory,” I prayed over and over again.
I don’t know why He chose not to heal Haley. God doesn’t always answer prayer the way WE think He should. He has chosen to heal lots of people. Why not Haley? After all, Lazarus was dead for four days and He brought Him back to life! He is able.
I found comfort in Jesus’ own words, “In this world you will have trouble, but do not be afraid. I have overcome the world!” (John 16.33) Death truly is our enemy, but we don’t have to fear or wonder: HE HAS OVERCOME DEATH! (John 11:25) We don’t live in a perfect world. We aren’t in heaven yet. Difficult times will come, yet Jesus promises to be there in our midst. As Jesus was returning to Heaven, he said, “I will be with you always. Even to the very end.” (Matthew 28:20)
Haley really knew this was not her home. She was just passing through. She lived every day to the fullest. She learned to trust Jesus; in the good and in the bad. I don’t have all the answers, but I trust the Lord, too: in the good and in the bad.
Her parents knew if given a choice, Haley would run to Jesus for a new adventure, not back to them. They realized, “Our worst day was Haley’s best day!” There is such comfort in knowing your loved ones walk with the Lord.
When your family’s prayers aren’t answered the way you would like, let these words encourage your family. God hears. God cares. God is with you. Keep praying as a family. Lead your children to experience a God that is real and active in our lives. Keep record of how God works for good, even in the difficult times. We can have confidence and comfort in knowing He is God.
Jonathan & Carrie
PS. If you haven’t received a text from us with weekly encouragement and updates, just text us at 321.223.1163 with your name and church.
Just preached on prayer last night Jonathan. Heartbreaking story of a girl that I might even have been in contact with over the years (through Radius). I’ve been to too many of those teenage funerals. Just awful. Certainly a new perspective though…a different perspective for the youth that you know was a follower of Jesus Christ though.
I comment on your post though because of the proximity to the message I JUST preached. I did my best to answer the question of unanswered prayers…why it seems that prayers had a role in helping my father be healed from Cancer, while prayers seemed to NOT make a difference in healing a friend’s daughter’s cancer. I don’t know why or how prayers work, I just know that we’re supposed to. So I do. Hopefully as passionately and faithfully as you did with her family. I know that despite how this turned out, you’ll continue to do the same in similar circumstances, resting on His Words of overcoming this world and all the death that it brings. Love ya brother. Keep doing God’s work. I know you will.
Thanks Kevin. I always look forward to reading your comments. You are always encouraging. I know God always hears our prayers. Even though they may not be answered the way we think they should (or hope), we need to (I’m striving to) have the faith, to trust that even though there are tragic situations, God is with us, God knows best, God cares and ultimately, God’s plan is going to prevail; He wins in the end.