Dark unfamiliar roads stretched through the town of Durham, North Carolina on the morning of December 21st, 2015. In the predawn stillness, two of my siblings and I navigated a route toward Duke University Hospital over nearly empty streets.
We spoke softly, not knowing exactly what the day would bring, and tried to ward off the chill in our hands and hearts.
Just a few short miles away, our youngest brother was being prepared for an intense, high risk brain surgery none of us wanted him to face, and we were determined to wake before the sun to show up with love, prayers and support.
A cloud of questions and uncertainty hung in the air. One we carried together, but knew the strength would ultimately have to come from a much higher power.
Thinking back on that day, now more than a year later, I vividly remember how hard I prayed (and still do pray) for a miracle. I wanted God to unleash an abundance of healing and make everything better again.
Maybe you can relate?
When facing difficulty, it’s normal to desire that God swoop down and fix the problem on our terms or deliver a solution we believe to be the right one. And it’s not always easy when He doesn’t show up the way we asked Him to.
But could it be that He’s calling us to slow down and recognize the detailed way His hand touches our lives, even when it’s not the hoped for answer?
Upon reflection of that cold winter day in North Carolina, I can say without a doubt, God showed up. Not the way I asked Him to, but in beautiful ways I did not anticipate.
Like the time a stranger, who knew nothing of what I was facing, sent these words hours before news of the surgery came:
“If God is on our side, who can be against us?”
Or the unexpected artwork and voice of encouragement from a beautiful six year old girl that brought my siblings and I to tears in the spacious hospital hallway.
And the sure, steady way God’s hand gently guided the surgeon’s, bringing an expected four hour operation down to just over two.
And the precious friends and family who drove hundreds of miles to be with us, putting their own needs aside to offer love and support.
Each experience carried God’s signature, allowing me to know, that even in the darkest night, we are surrounded by expressions of His love.
With time comes light and perspective, and God alone knows what each of us needs to change from what we are to who He wants us to be.
Sometimes, we may pray for victory – and God calls us to surrender.
We may ask for healing – and He offers hope instead.
We pray for the pain to lift – and He supplies fresh strength to carry the burden.
We may ask for an end to suffering – yet He sends down comfort for the battles we must face.
It’s not always easy to understand, but perhaps God is calling us to press beyond the veil of our own desires, and truly know He is near, in the good times and in the bad.
And I dare say there is nothing more beautiful than the kiss of Heaven woven intimately through our earthly struggles.
I don’t know the hardships you face, but I encourage you to consider three questions when clouds hover on the horizon, and I will try to do the same.
Even in seasons of darkness, what unexpected blessing can I embrace with gratitude, knowing it is an expression of His love?
While in search of God’s miraculous power, may I pause to recognize the whisper of His abundant presence?
And though His answer doesn’t align with my desire, can I still find Him close through the provision of His sufficient grace?
These answers may not come easy, and on earth, I believe difficult journeys will always be par for the course.
But the good news is, we don’t have to walk alone. And if we move forward with open hearts, God may show up in beautiful ways we never could have expected.
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