What started with a football-sized tumor, ended with back-to-back miracles, I recently told this man in a coffee shop line after my friend, Heather, had introduced us. Heather then blurted out that my book would soon be released.
My eyes widened a little. Still digesting the idea that strangers would read my honest thoughts on life and sickness and God, I pulled at the ends of my hair.
“Oh,” the man did one of those slow nods. “So, what’s the title?”
I mumbled, “When God Intervenes.”
Within seconds, his forehead pinched tight. “And what happens when God doesn’t intervene?”
My mouth opened a little, but nothing came out.
My thoughts raced trying to think of a quick version of the last decade of my life, but the noise from the surrounding tables rose higher and more people walked through the front door with loud laughter and all I could think was, that was kind of the point of the book. I prayed for intervention, a miraculous healing from an eight-inch mass embedded in my lungs, yet none came. I prayed for God to scoop out the cancer so my growing baby wouldn’t be harmed from the chemo, yet no assistance came. I prayed to live a normal, healthy lifestyle, but in the end I fought nine life-threatening illnesses, four of which were near-death experiences.
But none of this came out.
I wanted to confess that many times I screamed at God, “Why are you doing this? Ten years of battling sickness is killing me!”
My eyes dropped to the ground, because I feared telling this man that I really believed that was the point. God had plans for me, but I needed to get out of the way. I needed parts of me to die; specifically the pushy, control-freakish parts that thrived on stability and power and happiness.
What I didn’t know at the time was that had God healed me during my first bout with cancer, I would have argued my way out of marriage because my 24-year-old husband wasn’t meeting my needs.
Had I not faced the disease again, we wouldn’t have softened our bull-headed hearts to realize maybe we didn’t have as much time left to tinker around with life as we believed.
And had God healed my womb after the toxic drugs shut down my baby-making abilities, our newly reconciled marriage would never have considered adoption.
That chain of disharmony from disease and uncertainty I wanted broken free from was not really a chain at all. It was a sifting. A breaking down of my persistence to reign my life. My ideal that God was good, but my ways were better, needed a violent shake.
Had he healed my womb, we never would have started the adoption process of sweet baby from China.
Had I not miscarried during that long waiting period to adopt, I never would have discovered my clotting disorders—the potential reason for losing the baby. An increased risk to clotting is an important factor to know when traveling twenty-three hours on a plane to China. Without the aid of a blood thinner, my chances of developing a pulmonary embolism rose with long periods of limited mobility and high altitudes.
No. Sometimes God doesn’t intervene. And sometimes I didn’t understand the why, but looking back the dots connected oddly enough to form a new picture with a fresh perspective. There is a greater glory. He sees the big picture. He sees the tiny gift He’s embedded in me that He desires to use once I’m fully dependent on Him.
The list of non-interventions continued until something greater than cancer threatened to take my life. Then God intervened right at the moment when an audience of physicians gave a grim prognosis, and hundreds prayed, and the notes lining my doctor’s charts shifted from around the clock surveillance of my life, to documented records that something mysteriously had revived my broken body.
I expected the trial-free life, I liked to remind God when I battled my first sickness. I was a good person, living a decent life. I can only imagine him looking on and saying, “Ah, precious child. I have something far greater in store for you, but earthly stretching is required. You’ll thank me for all eternity, because my plans will awaken the souls of those looking on. And isn’t that more important than momentary comforts?”
I watched the line move forward in the crowded coffee shop. I never shared my thoughts with that man. Paralyzed by the fear that he’d scorn my words of hope, it was obvious God had not intervened for him—yet.
I am not perfect.
I will let people down.
It’s bound to happen.
But this life isn’t about me and my failures, it’s about a heavenly Father who desires for me to stop asking the “Why?” behind my mess, and start considering the “What?”
“What do you want to do with this heap of pain I’ve been through?” Comfort those with the comfort I’ve received? Mourn with them, serve them, love on them?
I believe that’s would Jesus would do.
I pray the next time I bump into to someone who asks, “So, what happens when God doesn’t intervene?” I’ll have a better answer than standing there with my mouth agape. Maybe next time I’ll buy him a cup of coffee and explain the whole thing.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll offer to hear his story, because sometimes the intervention comes in the listening and the praying and the weeping (1 Corinthians 1:4).
1 Corinthians 1:4
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”