Recently a memory surfaced of a time I met a friend for coffee. Sipping cappuccinos with extra foam, we chatted about all kinds of things. Communication with her had always flowed effortlessly, so it didn’t take long before we were lost in warm conversation. Mid way through our time together, she asked me to pray for a family she knew. The husband and father of this family became critically ill and he had to stop working. My friend wept as she talked about him and his wife and their two young children, as if their story was her own. I laid my hand on top of hers.
“I can’t imagine what his poor wife is going through,” I said. “If that were me, I’d curl up in a ball under my bed covers and never want to come out.”
“Oh, she is strong,” said my friend. “You would marvel at how she’s going through this. It’s amazing…her faith.” She smiled through her tears.
“I can’t even imagine.” Sorrow coiled around my mind like a snake. “Let’s pray.”
Unexpected tears came and my heart ached, like it had broken into a million pieces. I sat quietly after we finished, still holding my friend’s hands. In the silence, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” I let the sacred words roll around in my thoughts.
“This is why she is strong,” I said, speaking of the wife. “This…” I waved my hand back and forth between my friend and me, and then wiped a tear from my cheek. “Our prayers…right now…we’re helping to lift her burden.”
A sense of joy encouraged me as I recognized the holiness of suffering for others in prayer. That revelation is forever etched in my heart.
We’ve all lamented over stories of illness and loss. Sometimes our stories begin with sudden heart-wrenching news, and we are taken down by some foreign pressure squeezing our chest half to death. Other times, we are gradually ushered into infirmity and gently weaned from what we call normal. How ever stories of pain are written into our lives—they change us, and I believe that is one of the things they are intended to do.
It’s impossible to round up all of the accounts ever lived and told, and I am certain that this world—apart from God—is not equipped to hold the sum of them. Just one instance holds the potential to devastate us forever. Yet from generation to generation, through tremendous fear, disappointment and anguish, humanity endures. Only by God’s great love.
I have lived through what could have been my own life-shattering story—my husband’s battle with stage four cancer. I was bewildered that I did not want to crawl into a hole and hide. People prayed for us and God responded by giving us amazing peace, though I was left scratching my head.
“Maybe I just don’t get it, God…Maybe I’m in denial,” I’d pray, wondering why I wasn’t in a panic over what was happening to us.
Then one day the Lord spoke again, “I’ve given you My peace. It is a gift. And now you want to give it back because you can’t explain it?”
The Lord’s question demanded I search my heart. Did I need to know how things would work out with my husband before I could accept His peace? The depth of my faith in God Himself was being challenged, not a hopeful outcome of my circumstances.
Would I choose to believe God for His peace that stretched beyond my capacity to grasp, without answers or explanations? Even if other people (and the devil) called it foolishness?
This kind of peace makes no sense, and because it doesn’t require us to understand it, it’s easy to think it isn’t attainable or even real. But when faith rests in who God is—period—God’s peace comes. All other pseudo-peace falls away.
“God, I want Your peace. I want You,” I said, vowing to never question it again.
I can’t explain God, but I can tell you that He gave me greater security and contentment in His faithfulness and sovereignty then ever before. (More of what I cannot explain.) And I couldn’t deny that He moved people on our behalf—even some we’d never met—to love us and help bear the heaviness of our load through prayer when Rick was sick. “Why us, Lord?” I’d ask, but I quickly realized it wasn’t about us. It was about Him. It is always about Him.
And like the prayers my friend and I prayed for that precious family God loves so much, we were able to rest in His peace in spite of the outcome.
Dear friend, if you are facing a hard thing and “what if’s” are haunting your thoughts and suffocating your hope, please know there is another way.
Ask faith-filled people to pray for you—to help carry the weight of your suffering, and give God full control of the outcome. He is who He says He is—the great I AM, the eternally constant Father, always good and always present. God is our ultimate burden bearer, and He blesses His people with supernatural peace that refuses to bow to this world’s afflictions. His love for us is that unfathomable, and attainable.