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Opposing God

Of the over 1,000,000 prayers that were prayed on behalf of my husband, I don’t know of one prayer that asked God to take him home to heaven. Selfishly, none of us wanted to let go. I felt these prayers as they bombarded heaven along with mine. I asked God to miraculously heal my husband right up until the very end. I know that God could have done that for me. I believe that He has the power. I know He has done that for others (albeit rarely). Brian was always one to get the remarkable blessing.

As Peter is quoted in Acts 11:17, “Who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Peter was dealing with a spiritual reformation that included bringing the Gentiles into God’s love and plan of salvation for the world, long promised in the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet the same principle applies to me. It applies to Brian too. I don’t think he could have wanted to leave me, our children, and all the people he loved and served. So it wasn’t left up to Brian either.

There are some who feel very angry at God for taking Brian so young. It is okay to feel that way. God is big enough to handle our anger. I have been angry at God for more trifling reasons; and when I have focused my anger towards God and then been willing to hear His answer, I have always come to peace. I have often quoted Martin Luther as saying: “You ask me if I love God, sometimes I hate Him.” Obviously Luther’s hatred of God was not what it sounds like. His anger at God, like mine, was the consequence of his misunderstanding of God’s holiness and perfect ways. Every time I have been angry at God, eventually I see that I am wrong. Currently I am not feeling anger at God or anger at Brian. When I think of God and Brian, I feel a sweet sense of knowing that this was really God’s best for Brian. It’s harder to see how it is God’s best for me, Rachel and Ben; yet I know someday—maybe not until heaven—I will see tha,t too. Who am I to oppose God? After all, this enormous pain that pulses through my body is why God sent Jesus to this earth to live, die and rise again. God did it—purposely exposed His Father’s heart to a pain I could never understand— because without Jesus I had no hope of escape of the agony that sin brought to my world.

When I think of all the prayers, the humble pleas that flooded heaven from July 21-23, 2012, I know that God had a reason for the response He gave. A sweet 11-year-old girl wanted to go back and pray for Brian and was not permitted because of her age, but her desire was so intense that I was able to hold the phone up to his ear as she poured out her plea to God. You can’t imagine how many pastors prayed at Brian’s bedside—I wish I had counted the number of ordained clergy and Christian traditions they represented. We anointed him with oil and holy water. We did everything God asked of us. God made it clear that His plan was not our plan. Who am I to think that I can stand in God’s way?

The early Christians teach us a lot about accepting harsh reality. I was given a prayer from a Jewish prayer book that soothes my heart even as I weep. Its truths bring me closer to the love that can never be taken away from me that I received from my husband and from my Savior who weeps with me and our children and all who love and miss Brian.

When I die,
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
and give them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Something better…Than words
Or sounds.
Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me most
By letting Hands touch hands,
By letting Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die; People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away[i]

I find it interesting that Jewish people can pray this prayer for their losses even though they don’t believe in Jesus Christ, who came to set us free from all our tears. As Paul explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-1:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

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