“I am so ready for an angel to come,” Phil said that morning.
I’d been thinking the same.
I got up from my cot next to our daughter’s bed and joined my husband where he stood at her side. It was a ritual, a new sort of rotten routine that had just a pinch of sweetness in a mixture of pure bitter trial. I placed one hand on Charity’s hand, and my other arm around Phil’s waist. His left arm encircled me and his right rested on her unmoving leg, a prayer circle of sorts. We prayed before the day began, at the end of my watch, prior to the change of guard, and before I left to get some rest.
I raised my head toward heaven and closed my eyes. I expected the red sea to part, Moses with the face of Charlton Heston, complete with flowing robe and raised staff. I prayed for the waters to stand high and for Charity to walk with strong legs on dry ground. I anticipated drama. I had faith to move mountains. I trusted. But, like every day since the illness began, when I opened my eyes, Charity lay in unbearable eerie stillness.
“Why doesn’t He answer?” I whispered.
Weak, weary and broken, we cried like one, a ceremony of tears. It was our life.
“Is it too difficult for God?” I questioned, not because I doubted He could fix her, but because His silence didn’t dovetail with my theology.
A tiny response in my soul whispered back. “My miracles look exactly the way I want them to.”
“And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:3-5 ESV)
Jesus’ words caused an uproar.
“Blasphemy,” the crowd thought. After all, only God can pardon sins, and in effect Jesus’ pronouncement declared Himself God.
But it’s tricky because the condition of the heart is invisible, and as the crowd watched, the limbs of the paralyzed man lay immobile.
Jesus knew everyone’s thoughts. It was easy to say what couldn’t be proven.
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?”(Verse 9)
“Which is easier?” I asked, like the people that encircled the paralytic’s bed.
Were his hopes dashed or did the floodgates of his heart burst with freedom? Did he know that the deepest need of his heart and life had been answered? Did he realize that the greatest of miracles had just occurred?
Then Jesus showed His supreme authority over spiritual and physical need. He healed the paralytic, who got up, rolled up his bed, and walked.
From death to life, enemy of God to friend, slave to free, lost to found, there is no greater miracle than the supernatural act of a soul’s salvation.
While we waited by our daughter Charity’s bed and asked, “Did her thumb twitch?” “Is she trying to say something?” God reached inside into parts unyielded and undetected. I writhed under His heavy hand, to shift it, change it’s direction in spite of the fact that to be surrendered under the mighty hand of God is a place of complete safety. From death to life, enemy of God to friend, slave to free, lost to found, there is no greater miracle than the supernatural act of a soul’s salvation. Click To Tweet
Today, a string of unanswered prayers, like unleashed pop beads, ricochet through my memory. I find myself holding my breath, seeking visible miracles, or explanations, rather than gazing at the God of miracles.
I want to see the answer so I can believe, but that is backward. Spiritual trumps physical. God’s emphasis is on the unseen. His miracles are first and foremost within hidden surrenders of my heart.
I can still see it so clearly it’s like it really happened. Charity wakes up, swings her legs over the bed and hops down. His miracles are first and foremost within hidden surrenders of my heart. Click To Tweet
“Which is easier?”
He forgives. He transforms. He restores relationships, calms anger, saves marriages, removes resentment. He transforms inside out.
His power can change the very fabric of my being and that’s not at all natural. It’s supernatural.
These are miracles of daily perseverance, of face to face wonder, of long layers of time in His presence. These are the marvels for which my heart should hunger.
He is after all, the God of miracles, and His miracles look exactly the way He wants.His miracles look exactly the way He wants. Click To Tweet
Thank you Sylvia.
Thank you Rolly!
I’ve read your post 4-5 times in this first viewing of it. Each time its wisdom becomes more evident, and I’m drawn to read it all again. This is not all that rare for your posts, Sylvia. Thank you.
When I open my emails and find a post from you, it’s a good day.
Rosi, I am really blessed by your response. Thank you so much.
Charity’s story and your journey is so much like Alicia’s story and our journey. Although different circumstances, still the same God. His miracles look exactly like He wants them to be. Today is Alicia’s 24 birthday another miracle. Thank you for putting this story into words and thoughts that reveal His glory.
Yes, I have often thought that the stories have many of the same heartaches and blessings. Thank you so much Tony for reading and commenting. Blessings to you and your dear family.
Nancy E. Head
Such a heart reply here, Sylvia. Which is easier? He calls us to the harder one at times. May you know He’s walking beside you through this time. God bless!
Thank you Nancy. I often hesitate when writing about our story, because it is so much not “ours.” Yet it is the journey He has allowed us to walk, and He has shown His presence often and in many ways. May He be magnified in it.
I too watched for Charity to “rise and walk.”
I don’t know he why, but through her and her family’s faith I know my faith has grown. Thank you.
Thank you Becky! I keep praying!
I too watched for Charity to “rise and walk.”
I don’t know the why, but through her and her family’s faith I know my faith has grown. Thank you.
Sylvia, what could be more important than the truth you shared in this post? The sentence about unanswered prayer in comparison to pop beads (What a wordsmith you are!) and this statement: “His miracles are first and foremost within hidden surrenders of my heart,” reminds us we are to seek His presence.
Jeannie, thank you for your kind words. The pop beads comment made me pause and wonder how many even know what they are! Blast from the past!
“God reached inside into parts unyielded and undetected. I writhed under His heavy hand, to shift it, change its direction in spite of the fact that to be surrendered under the mighty hand of God is a place of complete safety.”
Beautiful visual of how I, too, have resisted surrendering to God’s mighty hand as I’ve walked through difficult situations with my children.
Thank you Candyce! I do a lot of that writhing even after I feel I’ve submitted. Crawling off the altar comes easily. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
I’ve resisted and writhed beneath God’s hand as well, Sylvia. It’s a painful process, especially when we feel our prayers are unheard and unanswered. But my plans aren’t His plans, While that in itself is terrifying, I also know He is God and He will carry us through the trials and continue to be with us on the other side. Continuing to pray for you both.
Thank you so very much Katherine. I am grateful for your prayers. I always am blessed by your wisdom and testimony.
I love the part about forgiveness being the greater miracle. Forgiveness is eternal, but physical restoration is temporal. I pray the Lord helps me understand more the unseen miracle of forgiveness. Thank you for your continued ministry in writing.
Thank you Brenda! Looking for the red sea parting, but recognizing the eternal is God’s most prized gift. I am grateful He loves us so much.
So enjoyed this Ms. Sylvia. Am learning ma’am, that the trouble is not in anything being too difficult for God, but in it being too difficult for me to accept His will.
J.D. Well, that summed it up succinctly! Thanks for that! “the trouble is not in anything being too difficult for God, but in it being too difficult for me to accept His will.” How difficult and precious is accepting the Sovereignty of God in my life. Thanks for the encouragement.
Wow, Sylvia. The teaching that Jesus’s will is to physically heal every time has left many that I know with the unanswered Why. Bitterness and utter disappointment are often the result.
Sometimes I think the goal of this life is to successfully resist offense when God doesn’t work in the way we thought he would.
God has been speaking to me about His sovereignty. How to accept the unwanted outcome with grace and, even, joy.
Thank you for this beautiful post. God bless you.
Thanks Terri for such an insightful comment. When Charity was sick I was often troubled by the thought of being disappointed in God. I recognize that is my lack of trust or understanding of a Sovereign, righteous and good God. Your comments about accepting the unwanted outcome with grace and even joy, really defines how I want my response to be. Thank you.
Excellent… I am so encouraged by your whole family choosing to love the LORD,… tho the trials are oh so hard…. God’s character has not and NEVER will change..what hope and peace. May we all continue to press toward the mark…
Pressing toward the mark. Yes. God’s character is an anchor. Thanks Marilyn!