In two days I'll be undergoing a very serious and complicated surgery that, from the human standpoint, terrifies me. Not many people can go into any surgery without any fear, but a surgery where they have to open up your skull to remove or "make room" for a tumor wrapped around your optic nerve? A craniotomy with tons of risks? It's scary.
Yet somehow, I'm not really worried about it. Somehow I feel pretty at peace. Initially I was in complete shock. I was unable to really speak and my body shook from the nervousness. As it sunk in, and we shared the news with family and then later with all our support and "family followers", I was covered with a complete peace. A peace that I knew could only come from Jesus...
As I began to speak about this peace to a friend, I was asked how in the world I could still have peace from the Lord when he didn't answer our prayer and how I could trust a God who doesn't answer prayer. It was an honest question and one that I've had to ponder for a couple days...
So. How do you trust a God who doesn't answer your prayer? How can you still have a peace about a situation when you have no idea what the outcome may be?
It's truly difficult to answer. We had hundreds if not thousands of people praying for me over the last few months. As I endured 6 weeks of daily radiation and the absolutely horrific and painful "rare" side effects from the steroids, people prayed for me. People prayed for my tumor to be shrunk or to disappear. I prayed this prayer. Our family prayed this prayer. When radiation was finally over and symptoms from prior to radiation began to reappear, we had people pray fervently that the swelling of the eye and the headaches returning were from the tumor shrinking or disappearing. When I underwent another MRI to show if radiation had done anything to the tumor, people prayed the tumor would be gone. I mean, again, HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS of people had been praying for the tumor to be gone. It had to be, right?!
So when we found out last week that the tumor was still there, and not just that, but that the tumor had not done a thing, we were obviously very disappointed. Along with the tumor not shrinking, we found out my vision had gotten worse, I had gotten more blind spots in my vision, my retina was damaged, my cornea was damaged and my optic nerve was even further compressed. We didn't realize how serious the situation was until we met with the neurosurgeon 2 days later, who said something like this can't wait and surgery needed to be done ASAP. We assumed we had a month or so. We didn't realize he meant 5 days later...
So... Back to unanswered prayer. Did God answer our prayer and our kids' prayer and the thousands of other prayers that were prayed on my behalf? No. He didn't. At least not in the way we had planned. My tumor hadn't shrunk. My pain hadn't gone away. The radiation didn't work. Is it disappointing? Yes! Is it frustrating? Absolutely? Was I angry? You bet...
But just because God didn't answer those prayers doesn't mean that he is not a God who listens. That he's not a God that doesn't answer us when we cry out to Him. You have NO idea how many prayers He DID answer while I underwent radiation. You see, while going through the radiation and my head being strapped to a table for 15 minutes everyday, I decided I'd spend that day in prayer. I fervently prayed that entire time every single day for all the prayers people asked me for over 6 weeks. It was a time I spent fully one on one, with no interruption with the Lord. I prayed fervently for friends, for people I didn't know, for health, for marriages, for finances, against difficult things like depression, divorce and cancer. I prayed and prayed and prayed. And you know what? I have gotten COUNTLESS responses near the end of my radiation where God answered the prayers. Where marriages were restored, cancers were gone, finances were suddenly better, and health problems were healed. There were times where I wasn't sure exactly what to pray, but prayed for what the Holy Spirit laid on my heart. And would find out the next day that that exact prayer was needed at that exact time. SO many times where God proved He was listening to my prayers.
I'm sure some are wondering "Well why didn't He answer the prayers about you?" I really don't know. But what I DO know is that He IS a God who answers prayer (and sometimes His answer to that prayer is different than we hoped for). I DO know that He IS a God that cares for His children. Sometimes His answer to prayer takes time. While my tumor hasn't shrank yet, whose to say it won't shrink eventually? How do we know that God doesn't have a better plan? How do we know that God doesn't plan to use this horrible tumor for something SO much greater than we ever imagined? While I AM disappointed that the tumor is not gone and I am sad that I have to undergo this surgery, I am most thankful to have that hope in Jesus and that no matter what the outcome may be, God is there with me. That God is good, despite the diagnosis. And for now, my prayer is that God will use this for something great. That He will use this for something so much better than we can even fathom or imagine.
He hasn't shrunk the tumor, but do you know what He HAS done for us? He has given us the best support system ever. He has given us countless amounts of people who pray daily for us. He has answered our prayer for financial stability as we've been so blessed by countless amounts of people who have given to us financially which has allowed us to not worry so much about medical bills and travel bills. We found out that Michael will have to take off this entire week to be with me in the hospital. And because of all the health issues in our family, he has used all his sick and vacation days (which doesn't renew until July) and will have to take the week off unpaid. We were worried, but I said we would be okay and God would provide. In just the last week since sharing the news of the upcoming surgery, we have been given almost the exact amount of Michael's paycheck. For 4-6 weeks, I will be unable to cook or clean or do much of anything. I was worried about how I'd be able to do it. But my sister and mom will be stepping up majorly to help and we've gotten a bunch of people on standby, ready to help with anything needed. Along with this, we are being blessed with giftcards for gas and giftcards for food for us after surgery because I can't do anything for 6 weeks. And in addition to that, my sister set up a mealtrain for us for every other day for 4 weeks and within 2 days it was filled. Our church has rallied behind us and yesterday we had dozens of church members and elders surround me and my family to pray for us. It was amazing and I'm so absolutely grateful to have a church that has such huge prayer warriors!
We are so grateful to each of you who have supported us and are continuing to support us on this long and difficult journey. Thank you for showing us that even if the tumor hasn't shrank, God still is answering our prayers. Through each of you. Days when we can't pray, you're covering us. Days when we worry about finances or a bill, in comes a random donation. He has answered our prayers and given us such a huge support system and we are SO grateful...
Please continue to pray for us this week... Tonight Michael and I head to Miami and will stay in a hotel so we don't have to wake up super early where we're able to get one more good night's sleep and we can get one last date night, before all the chaos begins. Tomorrow I meet with the orbital surgeon and then in the afternoon I will be admitted to the hospital as they prepare me for surgery Wednesday. I will be in the hospital until Sunday. Please pray that the surgery goes well. Please pray that the kids do okay with Mommy and Daddy being gone for so long. Please pray for them to be covered in a peace that surpasses all understanding. Please pray that God uses this situation and that He gets glory throughout it all!
continuing to pray... love you all!ReplyDelete
I know he didn’t answer the way you hoped, but he answered prayers with “trust me” I am in this with you.....despite what is seen, I am working in this and you can trust me!” God answers prayers. We just need to surrender our fears, and unknowns to HIS perfect plan....His way, and in HIS time. I believe He is lovingly holding you close and carrying you through every moment....He needs you to surrender your perception and expectation of how he should work, and let Him show you HIS great healing power and unbelievable love, mercy and grace.ReplyDelete
you are right that the tumor did not shrink and also The Lord did not shrink. He always answers prayers just not always the way we want. His answers are yes, no, and wait. But one thing he seems to always do no matter what His answer is and that is "give peace that is so hard to explain." You have it!!!!! You know He is right there with ya!!!!! He will carry you!!! I remember having that same peace going into brain surgery. It was hard to explain to others but believe me others are watching you. 1Peter3:15 There is so much we will never understand this side of heaven but it is nice when we really sense His peace right here and now with us.ReplyDelete