“What a sweet gift!” my friend exclaimed as I told her about the last weeks we spent with my dad before he died.
Her comment surprised me. I hadn’t considered his illness as a gift. I remembered it only as a season of sadness for my family. I also felt like God hadn’t heard our requests for healing. At least, not that we could see.
Unable to disregard her statement, I began to think about all the ways God provided for our family during the last few months of my dad’s life.
His poor prognosis came in September. He died in January. We had four months to prepare. During this time, we discussed his wishes. We shared our concerns and fears. Plans were put in place to assist my mom in the transition of caring for herself. All the while, we prayed for healing.
Those months also allowed us to spend time with friends and family. Past hurts were forgiven, and broken relationships were restored. God supplied financial provision, and He filled us with peace while we were struggling with sadness.
One morning as I was searching the Bible for a glimmer of hope, God led me to a verse —
“Thus far hath the Lord helped us.” Samuel 7:12
This declaration by Samuel was in response to Israel’s victory over the Philistines. The Israelites had pleaded with Samuel to pray unceasingly, asking God to give them victory. When the battle was over, Samuel set up a memorial stone and called it Ebenezer (a stone of help). The stone was to be a reminder of God’s faithfulness. A monument of hope.
I shared this verse with my parents, but I wasn’t exactly sure how it related to our current situation. I was still asking for healing. Physical healing was the help I wanted from God.
During this trial, a “fix it” attitude seemed to consume me. I was so fearful of having to watch my dad suffer that I convinced myself that the only way to avoid it was for God to heal him.
Isn’t this a common response? After all, who wants to watch a loved one suffer? Our humanity fights hard against pain and brokeness. We want it to end quickly, and without leaving any scars.
I had expectations and I expected God to comply, but who am I to accept only what I want from God, disregarding all else?
Didn’t God watch His own son suffer and die for my sins?
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities… Isaiah 53:5
In hindsight, those final months with my dad was indeed a sweet gift from God. While I experienced a good bit of inner turmoil, my dad seemed to be filled with peace. He knew this life was not the end. He was focused on what I couldn’t see, and he received the ultimate healing.
Lord, forgive me for demanding my way. Thank you for mercy. Help me to remember the Ebenezer stone, and the ways you’ve helped me thus far.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
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Inspiring others to place their hope in Jesus is Jill Jessen‘s desire as she writes. Having received inspiration from daily devotionals for years, she appreciates writers who have shared their life with her. She believes we learn from living and that everyone has a story to tell. Jill and her husband Greg have three children and are now entering in to the “empty nest” phase of life. The birth of their first grandchild this year was a sweet reminder of Gods perfect gifts.