The Five Hardest Words You May Ever Say

My phone pings and I look at another text update from my sister-in-law.

My brother David, who is two years younger than me, my brother who is strong and fit, my brother who is faithful and kind and always has a great sense of humor, has cancer. Stage 4.

And day and night we, his home team, in the bleachers and on the bench, pray for healing. For relief from unbearable pain and nausea, for strength and courage.

We are a family of Jesus-followers with a long heritage of belief and a sound-track of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.  We trust in a giant of a God. We know without a shadow of a doubt that our God is powerful and loving and can heal David with both hands tied behind His back (so to speak).

In the past two years one of our closest friends was healed from Pancreatic cancer. Unheard of. A miracle. Another close friend died of Pancreatic cancer. Both were faithful, both trusted the goodness of God and the power of prayer.

So what do we do with that as we walk with David through this fiery furnace? How do we pray with total faith and hope for the kind of healing we want for David while acknowledging that, for whatever crazy reason, it may not be God’s will to show off?

I think the hardest thing we do is to join Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in being “if not” Christians. 

In Daniel 3 these three guys refuse to bow down to the idol the king has erected and are threatened with death in a fiery furnace. Here’s their response:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

“…even if He does not…” Five of the hardest words ever.

I think sometimes we’re afraid if we say those five underlined words that somehow it may “jinx” our prayer – as if it discounts our belief that God is truly able. Like a loophole in our God-contract.  Instead, I believe it demonstrates a deeper more authentic faith than a name-it-and-claim-it-praise-Jesus plastic deal.

Instead, we’re saying although it’s hard, we trust in a God who is good even when we don’t understand. We will worship Him because He is God and we are not.

Friday, May 8th was David’s birthday. He got out of a week-long hospital stay on Thursday. I flew down to Chicago to surprise him and because the God we serve is able to heal him completely, this is what I gave him as a gift.IMG_3523

Last Thanksgiving, just before he was diagnosed, we ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot together. I told Dave it’s my prayer that he will run it with us again this year, and I wanted to give him a costume to look forward to. 🙂


The costume is our reminder that God is able.

But what “if not”? We pray…

  • Lord may we see Your goodness and faithfulness regardless of what happens.
  • May we thank you for daily glimpses of Your grace and provision.
  • May those around us see an authentic relationship with You that will make them curious about the faith that carries us.
  • May we grow more in love with You and more like You on this journey together regardless of the outcome.

The other day I got a text update that started “God is good…” It included an encouraging specific answer to prayer.

I look forward to the day when I’ll get a text saying “God is good…David is completely cancer-free”. But even if not, God will still be good and we’ll keep running.




  1. I was eager to read this blog post after John gave us a backdrop in his sermon this morning. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. True and lasting wisdom, Laura. Take this cup from me, but Your will be done. GODSPEED!

  3. Dear, Dear Laura,
    Sending you thanks for your insight, love and faithfulness!
    Sending prayers of comfort, support and encouragement for David, his family and friends. I pray that wisdom and compassion surround his entire medical team and the Divine Healer guides.
    Have a safe trip; thank you for being you!

  4. “…even if He does not…” Five difficult words. Yet, as you skillfully explain, these are words of faith.
    When my husband became ill – lingering in apparent limbo for a long time but he was really getting sicker every day “in limbo” – and then he died, we had to reckon with this. The prayer ladies in our church criticized us and said we did not have enough faith.
    My husband responded with Acts 7-8 (Stephen not delivered and the church grew) and Acts 12 (Peter delivered and the church grew). So, let God decide and take the glory, he said, and we need to find another church. That was that.
    I suppose we looked like cowards or losers or of weak faith. Like some of the folks of Hebrews 11. It is not pretty to go through.
    God bless you and your family, Laura. They are fortunate to have you with your strong faith and deep understanding on the journey. Bon courage.

    • Wow.You have really walked this road with faith, Jodi. Thank you so much for sharing your heart-breaking experience with us. I pray you are in a church that is a safe, healing, and encouraging faith community for you, even as you grieve.

  5. Joining you in prayer Laura for your brother David.
    All things in God’s time.

  6. Laura you are a wonderful big sister! If David is anything like my “little brother” I bet he plans to fight with everything he’s got so he can wear that turkey suit and run right close to you to embarrass you and make you laugh! What a gift our families are. My prayers are with all of you for strength , patience and healing.

  7. Thanks for sharing about David. I have such great memories of him from TCU. Give him my love and tell him I will be praying for him too in this difficult journey.

  8. In your words, intermingled with the pain you must feel, an unflickering candle of faith still burns strong and serene. Thank you for sharing your journey of hope .Long and strong may you trust in healing and the deep, wide love of Jesus!

  9. Laura,
    Been meaning to contact you since our visit is Chicago. It was a sweet time of prayer with you, Dave and Susan. You all are so much on our hearts these days. I have walked a similar road with my sister in years past. So we pray, hope and trust with you all.

  10. So well said Laura. We are praying for and thinking of our dear friends daily….believing in His power to heal, restore and transform.

    • Thank you so much to both of you, Doug and Pam! It was such a gift to get to pray with you in person in February. What an awesome God we serve who knits us together in love.

  11. Beautiful and true, Laura.

  12. Dear auntie Laura, you have always shown kindness to all. Your faithfulness to God shines everyday. David is blessed to have a sister with such great faith and I hope God is on his way to deliver healing and we just need to persevere a little more in prayer. But ..even if he does not… let His name be worshipped forever.
    Am joining you in this prayer for healing.

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