As a pastor, I see so many examples of miraculous healing, but I also witnessed more situations where a miraculous healing was wished for, prayed for but the answer was not what was hoped for. One example happened many years ago in a small town near Amelia, Virginia.
“I’m going to die!” were the first words of a young man, barely thirty who asked to meet me at church. He had just been told by doctors about a rare form of cancer along with other medical complications that would make it impossible for him to survive more than a year.
I did not know what to say? What could I say? What words could possibly ease the pain and suffering this young man faced? For a while there was only silence and soft weeping.
But what he said next sent a cold chill down my spine. “I don’t know if I can face what is going to happen over the next few months. Maybe I should just end it all now!”
Was he serious? Was he just expressing frustration?
I guess we could have discussed the whole issue of suicide but a certain young man crying in a small church did not want to hear a discussion. He wanted honest answers on how to face an extraordinary tragedy with no miracle in sight.
Many of us are left on occasion with broken bodies, broken relationships and broken futures. We pray and pray and nothing changes but in the struggle God asks us to persevere.
Isaiah wrote: “If I walk in darkness without one ray of light–” Is that what this young man felt: Darkness without a single ray of light anywhere?
Some would see this as a Biblical signal to give up but read the rest of the verse: “If I walk in darkness without one ray of light, let me trust the Lord, let me rely upon God.” (Isaiah 50:10) Far from giving up, Isaiah is implying this is the very time to persevere, to place our lives totally in the omnipotent hands of God.
(From “Healing Is A Choice” by Stephen Arterburn)
What happened next to the young man demonstrates how God can work miracles of perseverance when facing a severe crisis as he rediscovered his courage and learned to fully trust and rely upon God.
- He put his affairs in order, took a vacation and spent time with his family.
- The rest of the family pulled together to surround him during the crisis.
- The church and community provided numerous gestures of support and love.
- He came to know God, to really know God as few of us do.
A dying man changed and as he changed, his courage became a witness for the family and for all of us.
One special Sunday morning, this same young man and seven other members of his family came forward to be baptized. The final months of his life became a testimony of courage and faith. At the Baptism, he spoke about a song by Garth Brooks and how the words inspired him: “The Dance.”
And I, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance.
His final weeks of life moved from occasional fear to a quiet acceptance and trust. The funeral service ended with everyone bowing their heads and listening to “The Dance.” The words burn in my heart, and I cry every time I hear that song.
“I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”
If I walk in darkness without one ray of light, let me trust the Lord, let me rely upon God.