I was given a life lesson as a gift on Mother’s Day. It was a glimpse….a reminder, that the heart has the capacity to be crushed with devastating news, yet can still rest in hope, while encouraging others to do the same. As our church pastor (who is in his early 40’s) shared his health prognosis, the obvious and immediate reaction was to be disheartened. Logically, we know that bad things happen to good people….but surely this could not be happening to this man, this family. As he talked and cried about telling his children this heartbreaking news, my heart clinched. These are the type of fears that cross all boundaries in humans.
I thought back to a couple of years ago when this same pastor preached about bucket lists. He spoke about the big dreams we have in life and how his own mother left his family when he was a child to pursue Hollywood aspirations. When discussing his own dream bucket, he convincingly revealed, that he was living his dream. He was leading this church in the west valley of Phoenix, he married his beautiful wife, and together they were raising their 4 young children with Christ in the center of all they do. Hands raised, with a big smile on his face, he said he desired only to lead an imperfect church, filled with imperfect people to reach out and show the world the perfect solution to its hurts. So, for a long moment there, I wept. I weep still today for all reasons that are selfishly human in keeping everything just the same, especially when they seem to be working for good.
Yet, here are some random highlights of what Pastor Greg said after revealing his health condition:
“I need healing and I am asking for it. If God says no, till my last breath, I will honor him. God’s glory will be shown in my story. I don’t fear death in any way because I know the promise he’s given me, and I trust him. Twenty years ago when I accepted Christ, I made Philippians 1:20-21 my life verse, and it reads, For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. I am the most blessed man on the planet, but the greatest promise I have isn’t how long I live, but the miracle of salvation that I have already been given. I need a miracle, but I’m not alone in that.”
Wow. And so, we–the emotionally spent congregation–leave the service, encouraged and hopeful because it is true, we all need healing of some kind. Who among us doesn’t need a miracle in some part of our life? Faith is believing that healing still happens in very small and very large ways. Eventually the answer to physical healing will be no because we all will die. However, yet again, I am reminded that perhaps it is the process that we go through in difficult times….when we are in need of healing….that God wants us to practice so we can grab on to him. It is the prayer and surrender. It is encouragement, kindness and love to each other. It is the reexamination, building and forgiveness in relationships. It is affirming what you believe to be true and responding with urgency and purpose. It is fervently asking for a miracle and awaiting an answer. And asking again and again until the answer is clear.
Asking for a miracle today….for Pastor Greg….and for us all.