My mother called me late one evening to tell me that my uncle was in the hospital. The ICU, to be more specific. He was very sick and his organs were already beginning to fail him. This event came without warning. We were all floored. What made matters worse was that from the start, the doctors told us that his prognosis was grim. They expected him to die. My mother urged me to go see him while I had the chance.
As clear as day, I remember the next emotion I felt.
In fact, anger might be downplaying it a little. My blood boiled. I could literally feel my body temperature rising with every harsh beat of my racing pulse. My fist tightened around my phone and my jaw clenched so hard that it actually caused pain. I was furious. Who was my anger burning against? God? The doctors? No. My family.
I was angry because I felt like everyone was giving up. The doctors had little to no hope, and neither did my family. I felt like everyone was giving up on my uncle … and giving up on God.
Yes, God. The ultimate source of life, love, and healing. Not once did I hear any mention of God or His awesome power in the days that followed. All of a sudden, I felt as though I had to have enough faith for my entire family. God could heal my uncle. All He had to do was will it to happen, and just like that, my uncle’s vitals would return, his eyes would open, and he would rise up from that hospital bed and fill the room with the booming laugh that we all knew and loved. God could do it, and I was convinced that He would. I spent night after night lying in my bed praying and singing worship songs for hours on end, convinced in my heart that a miracle was on its way.
Everything changed two weeks later.
My family was prepared to take him off of life support. He was suffering. My family was suffering. It was time. My mother told me the news, and all of a sudden, I felt a strong urge to go to the hospital. It was midnight, but I went anyway. Before I left the house, almost as if by instinct, I grabbed my Bible. My mind kept replaying something I once heard from my [now] fellow Storyteller, Beth Guckenberger. As she told one of her many enchanting stories one night several years ago, she held up her own Bible and said, “This is the only sword you take into any of your battles.”
Driving to the hospital, I kept thinking about how awesome it would be if God chose to heal my uncle as I read scripture over him. That had to be why the Holy Spirit was leading me to the hospital with my Bible at one o’clock in the morning, I thought. Then, I came to a red light. At that red light I realized something.
I wasn’t going to the hospital because I knew that my uncle was going to live. I was going because I knew he was going to die.
My gut reaction was to fight. My faith was faltering.
Then I had a conversation with God. There have been few times in my life where I remember truly hearing God’s voice in my heart. This was one of those times. It went like this:
“God, You are awesome. Life and health come from Your mighty hands. You are the great I AM. You can heal my uncle.”
“Yes I can.”
“Please tell me that You will.”
“That’s not your call.”
The light turned green, and in that moment I realized that all along, my faith in God was not serving Him. I was trying to control God. I was trying to turn God into my genie in a bottle who would grant my wish for my uncle to be healed, but God was right. It was not my decision to make. As I stood by my uncle’s side reading scripture to him (I chose the Gospel of John), I felt an unrelenting sense of peace deep within my heart. God was almost ready to come and get him. For reasons that I will never understand, He just wanted me to do this one thing first.
That same peace continued to overwhelm me as I left the hospital. It continued to resonate in my heart as I slept that night, and it stilled my soul as I learned that my uncle had passed away just five hours later. To this day, whenever I think of my uncle, I feel sad because I miss him, and a little lost because of the many unanswered questions we were left with, but more than anything, I still feel that same peace.
We have all heard the saying, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” What I learned through all of this is that sometimes, denial and control can dress up as faith. True faith, however, is knowing and believing in what God can do, and surrendering to what He will do. My hope and prayer for you, dear reader, is that God will give you the strength to believe in Him, and peace as you surrender to His will.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Dwight Stone
Latest posts by Stacey Whitaker (see all)
- My Head Under the Covers: Being Biracial in a Racially-charged Society - June 22, 2015
- Strength: A Tribute to Lauren Hill - April 12, 2015
- A Faith that Surrenders - March 12, 2015
- Stop the Glorification of Busyness - January 22, 2015
- A Survival Guide for Spring Semester - January 11, 2015