Few people realize or know that before my career in motherhood I had a very brief career as a Registered Nurse. School wasn’t my favorite, but I knew it was a means to the end. The end being a career that would achieve financial independence. So in high school, when choosing a future vocation and schooling path, the answer seemed obvious and simple. Become a nurse.
It would be fair to say that I was never genuinely passionate about becoming a nurse or working as a nurse. I do love people and I enjoy taking care of people, but I know I lacked the passion that most nurses bring to their career. I enjoyed science growing up and blood didn’t make me nauseous. I knew I could get my associate’s degree in nursing, saving time and saving money. I also realized that I could get a good job anywhere in the country or possibly even the world. These were the deciding factors. Practical, yet lacking heartfelt desire.
When Robert and I got married, we moved to South Carolina for his medical residency program. I worked as a nurse in a newborn nursery and while I enjoyed my time there, I knew that wasn’t where the Lord desired me to be. I became a stay at home wife, before I ever became a stay at home mother. For quite a while I struggled with the shame of working hard towards something that I ultimately gave up. Why did I ever spend the time, money or energy working to become a nurse if I wasn’t going to actually work as a nurse? I learned then to trust God with my present and my future. I learned to find my identity in Christ and not a career or title.
I learned then to trust God with my present and my future. I learned to find my identity in Christ and not a career or title.
Though I haven’t worked as a nurse in many years, I still see so many of the benefits of my training. When Robert talks about medical ailments or certain aspects of his job, I understand, mostly, what he is talking about. When my kids have been sick or gotten hurt, I usually have an easier time remaining calm. I no doubt make an awesome bed and have perfectly mitered sheet corners. All of these small and seemingly insignificant things came from a past long ago as a nurse.
In the horrendous events of February 24th, I came face to face with the sovereignty of God. I found my daughter lying unconscious, called to her, checked her pulse and almost immediately began CPR. I didn’t have time to think about it in the moment, but later realized it had been more than ten years since I had performed CPR. I can also say that having to perform chest compressions on your own two year old at home is vastly different than performing chest compressions on a stranger in an emergency room where you work.
Ten years ago when I performed CPR on a stranger in a hospital I did not cry out to the Lord to save him. I admit, I’m not sure I even offered a silent prayer on his behalf. I’m not proud of that, but I confess to the reality. This time, when staring death in the face of my precious baby, I not only offered heart felt prayer, I cried out and begged for God to save her. I pleaded for a miracle. It would seem the miracle didn’t come.
I pleaded for a miracle. It would seem the miracle didn’t come.
To date, no one has told me, to my face, that the problem was a lack of faith on my part. Although I have heard that argument plenty of times throughout my life and even in the months after my daughter’s death. If I believe the Bible to be true, which I do, then this is clearly not the case. Matthew 17:20 says, “He (Jesus) replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” I feel confident that most of my Christian life and most certainly on February 24th I had faith at least the size of a mustard seed.
I have seen the Lord move in magnificent ways through Scripture and even in my own life. I am not a cessationist, meaning that I don’t believe that miracles are a thing of the past and only belonged to the early church and the apostles. So the question is, why didn’t the Lord perform a miracle when I pleaded for Jane’s life? The answer was simple and revealed to me a couple of days after Jane’s death as well as a couple of days before her death.
Why didn’t the Lord perform a miracle when I pleaded for Jane’s life?
On Friday, February 21, just three days prior to Jane’s passing, a friend sent me a link to a Francis Chan sermon. Francis Chan, like usual, offered well communicated, convicting and encouraging truth. He also tends to hit on a lot of subjects and this instance was no different. I could tell when I finished watching that I had not gotten out of the message the same thing that my friend did, but something else stood out to me glaringly. It was the idea of how determined we are as humans to preserve our life. He spoke of a man who asked for Francis to pray for his healing. The man was a Christian and had cancer. When Francis asked why he wanted to be healed, the man replied that he hoped to live a longer life, seeing his adult children get married and ultimately living to see his grandchildren grow. I sat in my chair and critically thought, “wrong answer”. Thankfully, Francis Chan showed far more grace and presented truth to the man in a much more loving way.
Humans are determined to preserve their own life.
The problem with this idea and notion is that miracles are all about us, when in fact miracles are all about God. Wayne Grudem defines miracle for us in his book Systematic Theology. Dr. Grudem says, “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” Awe and wonder, bearing witness to God. Do I believe that God could have chosen to revive Jane? Yes. Do I believe that the miracle of raising her from the dead could have provoked awe and wonder bearing witness to God? Absolutely, but I’m afraid He wouldn’t have actually received much if any credit for her life.
You see, I knew almost immediately what the response would have been had Jane been healed and come home with us that evening from the hospital. Inevitably, people would have been thankful for her healing and grateful that “it all worked out”. But people would have also pointed to the fact that I knew CPR. People likely would have praised the first responders who arrived at our home in minutes. There would have been relief in the doctor and medical staff’s skills at the hospital. Unfortunately, I don’t think there would have been much mention of the God who had healed her. We probably wouldn’t even be talking about it now, seven months later. I think this is what would have been other’s response, and if I’m honest, it might have been my response too.
Since God did not choose to raise Jane and heal her, did He forgo His own glory in the situation? Absolutely not. I genuinely believe God has received more glory and acclaim through Jane’s short life on this earth and even in her death. As a mother, that is hard to say. As a follower of Christ, I know it is true. I have a desire for the Lord’s name to receive glory and honor. I desired that even the day Jane died. I would have loved for God to cause awe and wonder, bearing witness to His name through the miracle that could have transpired through healing, but that was not His way and I have to accept that. Isaiah 55:8-9 confirms this truth. “For my thoughts are not you thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I genuinely believe God has received more glory and acclaim through Jane’s short life on this earth and even in her death. As a mother, that is hard to say. As a follower of Christ, I know it is true.
While I certainly asked for God to miraculously heal Jane on that Monday afternoon with an honest heart, pure faith and right motive, there was another honest and heartfelt prayer that had been prayed over Jane’s life. The prayer came from Scripture and was uttered by her own father every night when she went to bed. Robert would lightly stroke Jane’s hair and pray, “May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. May you sow good gospel seed for Christ.”
Until losing Jane, I hadn’t even realized how many plans and dreams I had for her. Some were never meant to be and some we have already seen come to fruition, even just a few days after her death. God has blessed, kept and shined His face upon Jane. He has been gracious to her and given her peace. We also know that through Jane’s life and even in her death good gospel seed has been sown. We have heard stories of the impact of Jane’s life. We have heard how the hard reality of her death has sparked awe and wonder in the Lord. Personally, as a family, we have been able to bear witness to the truth of Christ through the story He has given us to tell.
Who else could raise beauty from ashes? Of who else could it be said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) Only the God of miracles is capable of such wonders.
Only the God of miracles is capable of such wonders.
It was not wrong to pray for God’s healing of Jane. Just like it isn’t wrong to pray for the healing of many. But ultimately we have to accept the miracles that God does choose to perform. We have to check our heart and our motives when we present our requests before the Lord. We have to ask ourselves if we are really in the business of life preservation or if we want to see awe and wonder that bear witness to Jesus.
We have to ask ourselves if we are really in the business of life preservation or if we want to see awe and wonder that bear witness to Jesus.
Someone gifted me the book Be Still My Soul edited by Nancy Guthrie a few days after the funeral. It is a book composed of many different authors and their writings on suffering and the problem of pain. The entire book is filled with difficult and edifying truth, I would highly encourage it. One of the readings is from D.A. Carson and is entitled Dying Well. He tells a story of a woman who was in his church and was dying of cancer. The church came together to pray for her and her healing. He says that many confident and mighty prayers were prayed and then it was his wife’s turn to pray. His wife, who had almost lost her own life to cancer twice, prayed, “Heavenly Father, we would love it if you would heal Mary. But if it is not your will to heal her, teach her to die well. She is going to die anyway, and so if the time is now, teach her to die well. Give her a joy of the Lord. Give her a heritage of godly faith, with one foot firmly planted in heaven, so that her husband and children will be stamped by it, and will look to Christ. We don’t ask that she have an easy time, but ask that she be so full of grace, people will see Christ in her.” Carson went on to say that you could have heard a pin drop in the room.
The writing was both encouraging to me and horribly convicting. Just like the Francis Chan sermon I had listened to just three days before Jane’s death, I was confronted by my own selfish desires for God to abide by my will. It is not an easy thing to pray for God’s will be done and truly mean it. It certainly is no easier for me now to pray that way. While I don’t think it is wrong to pray for healing and miracles, I have been convicted of how little I think of the Lord’s place in my desires.
Instead of praying “God, be with or bless them or heal her” with an after thought of “if it be your will.” Shouldn’t I really be praying, “God you are great and your ways are higher. I desire for your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Use me and allow me to be part of making your name know. If you would be so gracious to heal this person, I would be so thankful. But no matter what your plan, I will praise your name.” I believe when I pray seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, I am more apt to recognize the miracles He performs everyday.
I believe when I pray seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, I am more apt to recognize the miracles He performs everyday.
February 24th was not the first and will not be the last time that I cry out to God in haste, with pleading and fervent faith. God heard me that day and He hears me anytime I present my requests before Him. I am thankful for that and I can rest in that. We are still living a life where we have witnessed miracles, but I often times wish that we were living in the shadow of a different miracle. My flesh is quick to battle the Spirit, thankfully the Lord is patient.
One day in March I was watching my oldest three children play outside. The weather was pleasant and we hadn’t experienced rain for the first time in several weeks. The signs of Spring were starting to show and the kids were enjoy every minute of it. I stared longingly out the window, feeling the pain of loss. Jane was absent from the scene and it hurt badly. My thoughts drifted to the story of Abraham and Isaac. I felt my flesh rise up and say, “But you provided a ram for Abraham!” Instantly, the Lord replied, “I provided a ram for you, His name is Jesus.” I repented.
The incarnation of Jesus as God-man and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the central and most important miracle in all history. The sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption He alone can offer to you and me, is the greatest miracle we could ever hope for.
The incarnation of Jesus as God-man and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the central and most important miracle in all history. The sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption He alone can offer to you and me, is the greatest miracle we could ever hope for. God has provided a ram for me, He provided it for Jane too. That is the miracle I must recognize. That is the miracle that should cause so much humble praise and adoration, I should never want again. God is a God of miracles. I believed that as a small child when I put my trust in Christ. I believed that in my short time working in a newborn nursery, where the miracle of life was constantly on display. I believed that while crying out to God in the midst of chest compressions and I believe it today with an empty bedroom down the hall.
“Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:13-14