photo by Gina Dreher
Saturday was Cora’s 5th Heaven anniversary.
It is hard for me to believe that it has been five years since I last held my baby girl. Five years since I was sitting in that dark PICU hallway early on a Sunday morning, my heart racing as I saw doctors and nurses rushing in and out of my daughter’s little room. Five years since I saw Joel pacing back and forth next to me. Both of us feeling so helpless as, what seemed like seconds later, we stood around Cora’s hospital bed and watched our baby girl slip away. Both of us praying for a miracle that never happened.
February 8th, 2009 I was praying for a miracle. And honestly, I was fully confident in God’s ability to intervene and save my daughter’s life. I was expecting Him to. But my miracle never came and I felt like my prayers had gone unanswered.
The past five years have held some of the hardest and darkest days of my life. But at the same time that I have experienced heartache, I have also experienced Jesus in a way that I have never experienced before. I have chosen to take my messy grief, questions and pain and lay it all at His feet. And He has always faithfully met me right in the middle of that big mess.
Can I be honest and tell you that since losing Cora I have struggled as I’ve read through the miracles of Jesus? It’s not that I doubted His power. It’s not that I doubted His compassion and great love for people. But I would often get to those passages and read about these ordinary people who expressed great faith. I saw Jesus acknowledge their faith and miraculously bring healing and I would wonder what I did wrong. Did I not have enough faith? Why did He choose not to heal Cora?
I have been studying Matthew in BSF this year and as we got to the miracles of Jesus I could feel myself getting stuck again. The questions flooding back just as they always did. Then we got to chapter 9. I remember reading through the familiar story of the paralytic man. How his friends, in great faith, went to so much trouble to get this man to Jesus. And how Jesus recognized their faith. I heard Jesus saying “take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” and I immediately felt a familiar let down. I wondered how Jesus could tell the paralytic man to “take heart” when everyone in the room knew he obviously needed Jesus’ healing touch on his body. After all, his friends had gone to great lengths to get him there in the first place! They knew Jesus was the only one who could heal him so what was He waiting for? And then I saw something I had never seen before.
“BUT, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:6)
The word “but” jumped off the page at me. But what? I quickly skimmed back through the passage and then it hit me. Some standing there that day didn’t believe Jesus had the power to forgive sins. They saw him merely as a man and a miracle worker, not as the Son of God who had authority over sin. But Jesus was telling them it was easier for him to heal this man’s body than to heal this man’s soul. Jesus didn’t come to be known as a great miracle worker. He didn’t come just to perform miracles. He came for something so much greater. He came to be their Savior. And that is where the “but” comes in. Jesus says I don’t need to heal this paralytic man because I have already forgiven his sins–I have already met his greatest need. But to show you who I am…to show you that I am the true Savior…to show you why I really came….to show you that I have authority over sin and disease…
He said to the paralytic man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
“Jesus’ miracles caught people’s attention. They revealed God’s love and compassion toward humanity. However, every miracle was also a sign that promised a greater spiritual and eternal miracle–rescue from sin. For all who come to Jesus in faith today, His miracles make this same promise.” (BSF, Matthew Lesson 8 Notes)
This was huge for me. I still get teary eyed thinking of how God used this passage to speak to my weary broken heart that day. I heard him saying to me,
Jess, I don’t want you to come to me as merely a miracle worker. You so often think you are the one who knows what is best for your life; that you should be in control. You come to me like you would a genie and then get discouraged and start questioning when you don’t get what you asked for. I want you to come to me as your Savior. I want you to come to me confident that I have already met your greatest need and that you can trust me with the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I still want you to come to me with your requests and questions and fears and dreams. I want you to ask me for those miracles to happen in your life. I see you. I hear you. Lay it all at my feet. But when my answer is no or you don’t get that “miracle” you were looking for, I want you to trust me. Trust me as your Savior. Trust me as the One who loved you enough to die a painful and horrible death on the cross for you. I came to rescue you and give you abundant life in me. I want you to realize the power of my presence in your life and the constant security you have in me. I want you to trust that I desire what is best for you even more than you do.
I wrote in my notes that day…and then circled and starred it so that I wouldn’t forget…
Faith is knowing that God has the power to do it and trusting Him with the outcome.
It has taken me five years of questioning those miracles to hear Jesus speak to me personally through His Word. Sometimes I wonder what in the world took me so long to get this?!! But do you know what is really sweet? This was such a reminder to me that my Jesus continues to meet me in my sorrow even five years later as I journey through grief. His Word is alive and powerful and He uses it to speak directly to me. And this year, five years after saying goodbye to my Cora, I am thankful for how He continues to reveal Himself to me in such a real and tangible way. He is truly close to the brokenhearted.
This year I want to stop looking back and wondering where Jesus was when I needed a miracle. Instead, I want to look to my Savior, who was there all along, and has the power to accomplish His good and loving purposes in my life. Whatever He allows into my life I can trust Him with the outcome because He has already accomplished the greatest miracle…He has rescued me from my sin.