God didn’t answer my prayer. No matter how much I asked, how much I begged and pleaded, whether or not I screamed or asked nicely, He didn’t answer. I asked Him to save my mom and He didn’t.
On August 1st, 2017, I said my final goodbye to my mom. My heart and spirit were shattered that day. How was I going to survive this world without my mom? “God, why didn’t you save her!?”
In the days, weeks, and months following, I hit rock bottom. I was barely surviving - struggling to make it through each day and dreading the next. Getting out of bed in the morning was enough to completely exhaust me; but even then, I carried on. Not for me, but for everyone who was watching me - my family, my friends, people who knew mom. I felt like all eyes were on me all the time. And I became obsessed with making myself seem somewhat put together.
So, I went through the motions of everyday life, and soon, I began going through the motions of what a “put together” Christian should do. In doing that, my prayer life was almost non-existent, worship was just another meaningless song to sing, church and small group became chores - always reluctant to attend, and little pleasure found in them. I didn’t trust Him, so what was the point in trying? I ran far and hard away from Him, confident that trust wouldn’t be regained and the pain would never dull. How could a God who claimed to love me and want to give me the desires of my heart let my mom die? It just didn’t make sense.
Not long after, I found myself so far from God that I doubted I would ever be able to get back to Him. For a while, I didn’t even want to try. Grief had completely consumed me and Satan used that to his advantage. I couldn’t see how deep in I was, all I knew is there was (and still is) this giant hole in my life and it demanded and received all of my attention 24/7. I couldn’t sleep, wasn’t eating well, had nightmares and flashbacks like crazy, and was in a permanent state of exhaustion. I started periodically skipping church, avoiding friends that I knew would ask me hard questions, tuning people out when they tried to offer words of comfort or advice, and even contemplated shutting everyone out and quitting everything - even EMT school (which I loved). There’s no way I could continue on. “I. Can’t. Do. This.”
Then, one night right before the turn of the year, I was sitting on my couch and noticed the tattoo on my foot that says “and if not, He is still good.” It was intentionally placed there years ago as a reminder to keep going - to keep walking, crawling, running, whatever - even when God doesn’t answer THAT prayer. That’s when it hit me: I HAD to do something about the way I was living. It was a fight against Satan that I was finally ready to enter; and praise God I had people like my pastor’s wife willing to be in my corner, because Lord knows I didn’t even know where to begin. It started with a short text to her and has turned into a plan to be in God’s Word every day, to begin to trust Him again, to shift my perspective, to rediscover who He is to me, and to love Him with all of my mind, heart, body, and soul.
I’m nowhere near where I want to be and truthfully, most days are still riddled with a strong desire to run away from Him again, but I continue with my plan because I know a life with God is better than a life without Him. I’ve tried it and even then, the light broke through the “impenetrable” darkness I had lost myself in. God is so much more than an unanswered prayer, and praise Him for that! He is trustworthy, loving, caring, a fierce protector, a father, my Savior. He desires so deeply to know me and for me to know Him. He weeps with me in the sadness and longs to hold me in His arms and comfort me. He reaches out when I run away, never forcing, but lovingly awaiting my decisions. He leaves the ninety-nine to chase after the one that ran away because each heart and soul is so precious to Him. He desires life - communion - with each of His children and His heart breaks when they can’t see it.
So, even today, as I sit in the anxious in-between of more family members with unknown/serious medical problems, I’m choosing to rest in Him (though I don’t do it perfectly at all), to trust Him, and to praise Him every step of the way. Even though anxiety still traps me at times, pain is overwhelming, and the air seems to frequently escape from my lungs, I will go on. Not on my own strength, but His. Because of who He is, I know I will be okay. Because His plans are far better than mine, I trust that His purpose in calling my mom Home is grand and that He will be glorified in it. And because even if He doesn’t, He is still good.
Even when my strength is lost / I'll praise you / Even when I have no song
I'll praise you
Even when the fight seems lost / I'll praise you / Even when it hurts like hell / I'll praise you / Even when it makes no sense to sing / Louder then I'll sing your praise
(Even When It Hurts, Hillsong United)
That’s what I will do, Father. Even when it hurts like hell, You are good. You are worthy of praise. When anxiety tries to rule, I will praise You. In the unknown and the waiting, I will praise You.
Friends, I would like to encourage you to do the same. Even if He doesn’t (fill in the blank), He is still good. He is still worthy of praise. His plans are still better. He is still the loving God you knew and deeply loved before your pain started. Take refuge in that. I have.
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Read more from Hanna at her blog here.