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.
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.