I’ve been thinking a lot about healing and how most times healing doesn’t happen the way I hope or pray. When I was in high school, God put it on my heart to begin praying for my future husband. It was so weird to pray for someone I didn’t know, but there I was praying in a field where only God alone could see me. Meanwhile, the man who’d be my husband was in a skiing accident and while they tried to save his leg and while he had an entire community praying for him, his leg wasn’t healed. It was amputated.
Later, I’d meet the man I was praying for in college and learn his dad had stage four lung cancer. Before we began dating, I began praying for his dad. Eventually, his dad would become my dad-in-love, hear he was going to be a grandpa, and say “It’s going to be a girl.” I think he said it so many times as if he knew something we didn’t know about having four little girls when his body was becoming too weak for this side. The following week he was unable to talk and within the month he left this earth.
I think about our middlest baby, who we don’t hold down here, but how I made it through 12 weeks of intense morning sickness, and we thought we had reached the smooth sailing of the second trimester.
Did I not have enough faith when all that’s needed is a mustard seed? I don’t think that’s it. God heard my prayers for my husband, for my father-in-love, and for a healthy pregnancy. He heard them. He didn’t bring the physical healing I prayed for, the way I would’ve wanted it, the way we all want it when we pray in desperation, our hearts aching.
Instead, God brought healing His own way. He provided my husband with amazing surgeons and doctors who saved his life and a strong family who encouraged him to get back on his feet. He healed my husband’s heart of things that perhaps only I know about and set him on a path that would allow him to be the godly husband and father I prayed for.
Instead, God brought healing his own way. My father-in-love gave his life to Jesus and was baptized before he passed and some of the last words he said were, “I deserve this,” which threw us all off as we gathered around his bedside. Later Wes realized he was referring to a coin he kept with him that said, “Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve. Mercy is when God spares you what you do deserve” with this scripture reference: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls ” (1 Peter 1:7–9).
Instead, God brought healing in his own way. The heartbeat stopped. The grief of losing a child hoped for is unparalleled by any other death, for children are not supposed to die before their parents, not even the smallest in the womb, tiny arms and legs and heartbeat in an 8-week sonogram, flicks of life as he or she moved within my womb seen right on a screen. But that child’s first breath was in Heaven, and I absolutely believe these sweet children we don’t hold down here are held in Heaven by loved ones. Maybe my father-in-love spends time at the river with our middlest one. I don’t know because my eyes see dimly, but what I do know is this:
Heaven is real. God is alive. Hope and faith aren’t always about what we see here on this side, in a broken world full of pain because of our human nature to go against God instead of staying with Him and all He has to offer. Grace and mercy are for all who call on His name, for all who will choose to walk by faith and not by sight. My eyes don’t see fully, but my heart holds to faith and hope.
Father-in-love, I wish you could’ve been around to see your adult children now, to see them raising your grandchildren and being amazing spouses as well. I think you’d be so proud of who they are today. Your wife is doing double time being a grandma, and she’s amazing at it! I’m sure you already knew that about all of them though.
Love you. Miss you. Until we meet again,
Your daughter-in-love . . . because “in-law” just doesn’t cut it when you marry the one you love and enter their family too.