My great aunt recently passed. This person has been close to me my entire life. She is one of those people who kept me from a whoopin’, gave me extra tight hugs, and indulged my amateur interview skills more times than I can count. She taught me how to make tea cakes. She straightened my hair in her kitchen. I walked with her when her doctor told her she needed to exercise. I massaged her shoulder when it grew stiff. Whenever I came back from out of town, I went to her house immediately after going to my house. This isn’t just another family member or peripheral person in my life; this is one of the pillars of my life.
It seems the past few years have been especially rough for me in this regard. I’ve lost many people who have supported me at pivotal moments in my life, who form the bridge that I crossed into this portion of my life. From my beloved stepdad, who raised me as if I was his own; to my kind hearted aunt who literally chased down opportunities for me; to my uncle who ferried me back and forth from Cranbrook to home so that I could see my family and go to church each week; to this present loss. It’s been a rough for years. Four years and four pillars gone. All gone at a relatively young age and mostly very suddenly.
As I got down on my knees last week to pray for my great aunt, there was a slight moment of trepidation, of not knowing what to say. That’s not exactly true. I knew what to say but I didn’t want to say it. You see, as a Christian, a big part of prayer is submission to God’s will. We can come boldly before God in prayer and ask for whatever we want, but we are only promised that those requests which are according to His will are going to be granted.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything According to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
In the Garden of Gethsemane, ask Christ prayed to God, we are given an example of a submissive prayer. Nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done. He was able to tell God what He wanted, but accepting of whatever God’s will was for Him. It’s a beautiful example to quote and study, but a hard example to follow.
In case your wondering, I didn’t pray for my great aunt to get well. It wasn’t that I was convinced that she couldn’t by what the doctor’s were saying. I wanted to let God know that I recognized His will was going to be done. I prayed for all of the people involved who will go as far as they can go with her, whether she were to be healed or whether she had to leave us and journey into eternity on her own. The doctors and the nurses caring for her; the children, grand children, and great grandchild she supported and took care of in various ways; all of the family members who depended on her when knocked off their feet by the trials of this life; all of those who would feel guilty over all the things they left unsaid or undone should she not pull through; I prayed for those people. I prayed for those of us who sat at her feet and learned so much about being women and taking care of a household, and those she couldn’t seem to get through to before. I prayed that no matter the outcome, God would be with us and we could recognize that His will has been done.
None of that means I didn’t hope that she would recover, nor that I didn’t think that my prayers in that regard would have mattered. Reading online about the nature of her illness, I learned what a long and slow process recovery would be for someone of her age with her other health issues. Hearing about the damage that was already done to her system…there are some times when recovery doesn’t look like the best alternative, even if our hearts jealously long to keep someone with us.
When I was told my great aunt had passed, I had a David moment. David had been fasting and praying for his son to get well, even though God had pronounced that the child would die. His aides were fearful of what he would do when they told him his son was dead. David got up, washed himself, worshipped God, and ate. His servants were confused by his actions. Here is what David told them:
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
When I say I had a David moment, I mean I felt…if not relieved, at peace. There was no more need to be in anguish about whether or not she would make it through another day fighting for her life. There was no more need to fear what could happen next. God is still to be praised and worshipped. Now is the time to draw closer to Him.
It is so hard to see so many pillars falling away in my life, so many people I can’t call to celebrate our victories and encourage one another in our defeats. What’s even more amazing to me is that despite their loss, the structure is still standing. We are still standing and continuing on. God be thanked that they were there when I needed them to hold me up. I have every confidence God will continue to place people around me who can do that. Most importantly, throughout the years, I’ve learned to rely on Him more and more to do that.
I’m asking that you all keep my family in prayer at this time.