Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping Your Faith When God Says "no."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding" - Proverbs 3:5

Do you ever wonder why you don’t get some of the things you have prayed for? Do you feel like God has let you down or is not listening? Do you believe God answers all prayers? I have had several people ask me about my faith through all this, all so I thought I would share what God has taught me about the above questions. I want to reveal the secret of my peace.

First of all, let’s set the stage with some truths.

- No, I don’t want Johnny to die.

- Yes, this is the most traumatic experience I have ever been through.

- Yes, Johnny is the love of my life, who I fell in love with the moment I met him.

- No, peace doesn’t magically flow to me automatically.

- Yes, I work hard tending to my faith each day.

- Yes, I believe God answers all prayer.

- Yes, I believe God knows all things including what is best.

- Yes, I believe anything is possible with God.

Johnny and I live in a moment frozen in time right now. Our world is one of lazer beam focus directed to one priority – getting through each day, one day at a time, and hanging on to our faith with all our might. Every day for Johnny is a battle against pain and nausea and trying to get an appetite. Every day for me is a mission of taking control of our worlds so Johnny has nothing else to worry about but achieving the above objectives.

At first our battle was long range goals to reverse the cancer. Together we fought tooth and nail going to extreme lengths to try anything we could find to help the oncologists. We had tough times and we had good times in between. Now it is all tough times. The latest patch he wears for nausea has not worked all week.

The last meal Johnny ate was last Sunday. I fixed him turnip greens and pork chop and hoecakes. Every day since then he eats less piece of fruit a day. Last night he “got a wild hair” and thought he felt hungry. He sent me out for food.. By the time I rushed home with it and set it before him he had a frown on his face. “It’s gone,” he said. He tried to eat a few bites anyway but had to race to the bathroom to throw it up.

He gets weaker and weaker as he eats less and less. I know he’s lost more weight but he won’t weigh anymore. It depresses him. We are waiting to get the next CAT Scan on Tuesday and meet with the oncologist to review the results and decide whether or not to continue with the last chemo or contact hospice.

Johnny has tried to keep fighting on through the pain and nausea, but now with the way things are progressing, I think he is reaching that point of being ready to change his focus to quality of life rather than quantity of life. He knows his time is limited. He wants to truly live every moment while he is here, and enjoy the time he has left, as comfortably as possible.

Back to the question now, of keeping our faith with the outcome looking bleak. One might ask, why did God not answer our prayer for healing? As we have marched onward in “Johnny’s journey to victory,” we knew the greatest victory was being one with, the same as, and in tune with God’s will. We know that GOD heals and it is God’s call. Because God has a plan for each of us, that does not end when our time here on earth is up. It is a plan for all eternity.

The victory that we march towards each day is one of letting God control our destiny. Yes, we have our preferences of how we would like it to be. Yes, we express our opinions to God and request our wills be done. But, the bottom line is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He sees our bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

I can look back in the last year or two, at the things God said “no” to us about, and see how His “no’s” were leading towards our greater good in the events we are now experiencing. One “no” came when we prayed for our business to continue thriving. Circumstances forced us to close the business and retire early. Johnny was diagnosed six months later.

Also, I was going to start teaching. I had applied for a special program in the school system that was looking for retirees who wanted a second career to teach. I was really excited at the prospect and made it through the first cuts towards selection. But in the end I didn’t get it. I was really disappointed and had a hard time understanding God’s “no” on that one. He knew I always dreamed of being a teacher and I would be a good one! (Or so I thought.)

One month after my last school board interview, Johnny was in the hospital. Everything worked out for good. I never would have been able to juggle having a full time teaching job and going to school to get certified simultaneously with this journey. God knew what He was doing when he said “no” to that prayer request. God knew Johnny would need me more than ever.

The greatest victory is not losing our faith during this journey. Instead, individually and together, our faith has grown so strong that we can truly come to understand what “that peace that surpasses all understanding” really means. We have learned to trust God NO MATTER WHAT. We trust Him because we love him. We KNOW His name. We KNOW we are not alone. We know this journey is for His greater glory. We know he is using us to light the candles of faith in many people who are on this journey with us.

So finally, here are the answers we have learned to the initial questions I asked. I know why we didn’t get some things we prayed for. I believe God answers all prayer – just not necessarily the answers we were hoping for. I know God is always listening to us.

What is it you have prayed for that you are not getting the answer you expected? I encourage you to keep trusting God even when He says “no.” Everything works together for good to those who love God. We must believe His answers are always in our best interest. He is always pushing us towards the destiny we born for. In between our birth and death on this earth our purpose is to discover Him, know Him, honor Him and love Him with the same unconditional love that He loves us with.

Keep trusting Him no matter what your circumstances. Keep listening to Him as He whispers to your heart. Keep walking forward to the victory that waits for each of us, which always comes with surrendering ourselves to His divine timing and order for our greatest good. You might not get what you want, but God will give you what you need.

Beautiful Blessings!



Elizabeth Bowdren Photography said...

Wow I gained so much from this blog entry. Thank you for continuing to write.....

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever heard such a testimony on the purpose of adversity, it was so well put, and genuine. Thank you.

All my best, and happiness to you!

Laura Lu said...

Amen! thank you for testifying of our Great God. continuing to pray for your precious family...


Laura Lu said...

you've really been on my heart today. i just want you to know that i am praying for today!

{annie_loo} @ The Farrar Four said...

How appropriate for me today as I have just miscarried my first baby. Mrs. Renee, you are truly an inspiration to me and your words mean so much to me everytime I click over to your blog. I pray that as you keep the faith you will be encouraged along the way. I know the path is grim, my road looks pretty dark right now too, but we do have to put our words into action and BELIEVE that God is in control and that HIS ways are better than our ways. Thank you so much for always laying it our fresh for us. Your words are so encouraging! Still praying for you and Mr. Johnny!

Much Love!

Lyndsay Almeida said...

i just wanted to let you know that i've been praying for all 3 of you this morning. specifically that "the peace of God which passes ALL UNDERSTANDING will guard your hearts and minds."

Charlotte Wedding Photographer - The Schultzes said...

This post touched my heart...truly.

Rebekah said...

what a beautiful testimony you have! thank you for not only sharing your own life experiences and your journey holding God's hand, but thank you for exhorting & encouraging the rest of us to follow His will and to be encouraged when God says "no" to our prayers knowing that His gifts are perfect & in His time. Thanks!!!

Terrica with Fabuluxe™ said...

You are forever in my prayers. I love you both and thank you immensely for the gift you gave to the world in Scarlett, your own personal romance and your continued strength and faith.

Anonymous said...

you continue to remind me of the goodness of grace and the richness of faith. your story reaches farther than you'll ever imagine. thank you!

Beautiful Moments Photography said...

Big hugs to you, Scarlett and Johnny :)