For the majority of my life I have held onto the belief that there is a God, that He cares for us and orchestrates everything that happens in our lives. A lot of people have given up on God because they cannot see Him, cannot hear Him or He hasn’t answered their prayers. People die in horrible accidents, of painful diseases, some of these are children. So you wonder how could there be a God, how could He allow these things to happen? God has plans for everyone, and sometimes those plans involve leaving this earth sooner than we might want. In our grief we are often blinded by the reasons for these things happening. In 2005 my sister was hit by a drunk driver and suffered severe brain trauma. She would lay in a nursing home, in a vegetative state, for almost six years before passing away of a kidney infection. That event, coupled with my Dad’s cancer coming out of remission the same year, was devastating to my parents and me. But I handed it off to God, I said to myself, “I have a life to live, I can’t be burdened by these things – I have no control over this, I leave it in God’s hands.” I prayed my sister would recover, but she never did. It’s at times like this that people get angry and say, “How could God let this happen? Why isn’t He answering my prayers?” and just quit on God, saying He doesn’t exist. But it is in these times that having a relationship with God is incredibly important, because that helped me through the loss of my sister, the loss of my father to prostate cancer and the loss of my mother to a massive stroke. All in a two year period. Most people would have just been crushed by that kind of loss. If it hadn’t been for my relationship with God, regardless of how unstable it was at times, I doubt I could have handled it. God does answer prayers, but not always in the way or for the things we want. This year I found my biological family. We found one another through a DNA site called 23andMe. This past October, I traveled to Kansas City and met my Mom and two sisters for the very first time. God knew I was reeling from not having a family, He graced me with a family that is my own flesh and blood. I praise Him for that blessing – my biological mother, sisters, and family are awesome!

In March I was suffering from deep depression because I had been unemployed for a time and my savings were nearly gone. In January I started praying to find a job. But God wanted to see if my faith would hold on, so he took me to the brink of losing everything. When I held onto that faith he then blessed me with a job beyond my wildest dreams. I am Lead Designer for a company called Omnilert, I am a salary employee, I get to work from home, I get health insurance, a 401k plan and all the other perks that come with a job. Yes, God didn’t answer my prayer right away, He wanted to see if I would lose faith and just walk away. I didn’t.

Just a week and a half ago my biological uncle, whom I got to meet during the family reunion, was rushed to the hospital with a 12″ tear in his aorta. My elder sister texted me about it as soon as she heard the news. He was given less than a 10% chance to survive the 12 hour surgery. I was feeling very sad and worried that I would never get to see him at next year’s reunion. I posted a prayer request to our church’s singles ministry Facebook group, and also texted a guy I know in the campus ministry to ask them to start praying. Pretty soon an email went out from the leader of our singles ministry, to people who may not have been on the Facebook group. I was praying like never before, I even broke out my song book and sang a hymn for my uncle. I stayed up almost all night waiting to hear the news. Around 3:30 AM, I got a text that he was out of surgery and they wouldn’t know for another 24 hours if he would be on the road to recovery or would have complications. But he beat the 95-98% mortality rate! Prayers were being answered! Within a couple days it became clearer and clearer that my uncle was going to recover and be on his way back home. Yesterday I got the news he had been moved from the ICU and into his own room, and that he may be going home as soon as the end of the week. Again, God came through in amazing fashion, in this case.

But what if my uncle didn’t survive? What if our prayers weren’t answered? What would have been the result? The thought of him dying was very prevalent on my mind after getting the news that he was in emergency surgery. I knew in my heart that everything that was happening was in God’s hands, there was nothing I could do except pray. If he died I would have to accept that as God’s will and deal with the emotions. If he died, my faith might be shaken, but not lost. I know that people have these things happen and they don’t survive. The prayers that go out, don’t get answered. The reason is God has a plan, he is orchestrating everything and one person’s death could be the catalyst to bring one person, two people, many people, to him. Everything God does has a purpose. So if my uncle had died, I would fly out to the funeral, I would be in a state of mourning for him, and I would be there for the family. But I would also acknowledge that this was God’s will and that my faith must not be shaken by it. If anything I should hold all the more onto my faith to get me through the loss. If I hadn’t had a relationship with God when I lost my sister, my father and my mother – I can tell you with all honesty, I would not be here right now writing this. My volatile nature would have exploded in a shower of grief, depression and ultimately suicide. But that faith in God kept the cork in the bottle, and told me: Yes, I am the lone survivor of this tragedy – which means I must survive and flourish. I must do what my parents would want me to do, to succeed and be happy, living everyday to the fullest. I must be here because God needs me here. I may have only a short time, I may have a long time, but in that time I must worship God, live everyday as a disciple of Christ and survive, succeed and prosper.

So the next time you wonder if there is a God, because you can’t see Him or hear Him, or your prayers go unanswered, think about what I have just written. Yes, you can’t see Him. The only physical proof He exists is the bible, and for some that’s not enough. But He does hear your prayers, He knows what is on your heart. He will answer you when He feels the time is right. One analogy I like to use for prayer is this: A five year old girl tells her parents she would like horse riding lessons for Christmas. Now her parents know this would be a bad idea. Because they want to make sure their daughter is safe and doesn’t come to harm – they don’t give the little girl the horse riding lessons. Clearly the little girl is deeply disappointed, because she doesn’t understand that riding a horse is out of the question for a five year old. Many years later she gets a horse and learns to ride, becoming one of the greatest horse riders the world has seen. She got her wish, but much later than expected. God is our Father, and like any good parent He wants us to be right with Him. Sometimes granting a prayer could result in someone falling away from Him. Sometimes we just aren’t ready for what we’re praying for. Or, sometimes, God is orchestrating something awesome out of tragedy. The question you must ask yourself is, what would happen if this prayer was answered? Would it result in something good for God, or something good for you? Because while we may glorify God and thank Him for an answered prayer, as time goes on we lose sight of that moment. We go back to the daily grind, back to our sinful natures, and God is forgotten – only to be remembered when something bad happens again. Make God a part of your life even when times are good so that He can be part of your life when times are bad – and get you through the storm.

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