It was five or six years ago when I got the call from a friend. “Your roommate Travis has malaria. The doctors don’t think he’s gonna make it.” Time slows. Your head goes foggy. You repeat the line in your head. “They don’t think he’s going to make it.” Travis had just gotten back from a four-month trip to Africa with three of my roommates; though I hesitate to call them roommates. At the time, I lived in a house with four other guys that were less like friends and more like brothers. To imagine one of them dying…well, it just wasn’t possible. A group of us quickly gathered in the waiting room at the hospital and began to pray. We prayed and prayed and ached and ached. We shouted, begged, pleaded, and we sat silent and the moment came.
Have you ever prayed for something so long and so hard that you run out of prayers to pray?
I’ve only been to that place a few times in my life, because, quite honestly, I tend to talk about praying with my friends much more than I actually pray with my friends. But there have been a few times, by the grace of God, when I’ve prayed to the point of exhaustion; to the point of moaning, to the point of groans and unintelligible mutterings.
God heal Travis. Heal Travis. Heal Travis. And then…
I was suddenly struck with the thought, Father, you can heal him now, or heal him by taking him home, but whatever you decide to do, you do all things well. So, I feebly picked up my guitar and began to clumsily strum and sing that simple thought. “You do all things, you do all things, you do all things well.” And out of the corner of my eye, I see Travis’ mom stand to her feet, lift her hands up in the air, up above her tear stained cheeks, up above the despair crushing down on her heart, and impossibly begin to sing those words with me.
Now, there are some who would say true faith is all we need to get God to give us what we want. And, if God doesn’t do what we want, the way we want, it isn’t his fault, but it’s our fault for not having enough faith. When I read the Scriptures, and when I hear talk about mustard seeds and the kingdom come, I get the feeling that Christianity isn’t about how much faith you have, it’s who your faith is in.
When I think about pure faith, I don’t think about those who tighten their fists and say, “God will always heal, as long as I believe enough.”
I think about Job. I think about Jesus in the garden, and I think about Travis’ mom. “You give and take away but blessed be your name. Lord, if possible, take this cup from me, but not my will but yours be done. You do all things well.”
Man, if you’re struggling to accept God’s will, how comforting is it to know that even Jesus struggled, cried, and sweated blood to accept it?
Now, I do have to tell you that the next morning Travis miraculously sat up, pulled his IV out, and began to march right out of the hospital room, gown flapping in the wind and all. God healed him.
But what I want you to know, and what I pray he allows me to remember, is that He would be just as good, and just as loving, if He decided to take Travis home. May He allow you to gaze at the cross every day of your life. No matter what happens, come what may, may our God open your eyes, loosen the grip of your hands, and lose your tongue to say, “Father, you make beauty, even out of ugly things. You do all things, you do all things, you do all things well.”