“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:19-20
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:13-14
These were the scriptures I had in my heart when Daniel and I were begging for Ginny’s life. In that dark ultrasound room, the technician said that she was having trouble finding the heartbeat. I started panicking. Then I remembered that my God works miracles. The technician left to get a doctor, and Daniel and I prayed harder than we’ve ever prayed before. In Jesus Name Ginny Will Be Born Alive!! We are asking for a MIRACLE! Please please let Ginny grow up. Give her life! Please FATHER!!
The doctor arrived, “I’m so sorry.” We had our answer. I was shocked.
I was in shock that Ginny was gone. And I was shocked that the answer was no. I had faith! I believed!
I’ve seen miracles. I know of pain gone, cancer gone, accidents avoided, lives spared, lives restored, unexpected provisions. I knew God could. But God didn’t.
God said no then swept us up in his arms and comforted us. I could very strongly feel his love for us and his broken heart, and yet the answer was still no.
That whole night and next morning, I knew my family’s prayers. They were praying for more than my peace. They were praying for a miracle. They hadn’t had the chance to petition God for Ginny’s life.
That’s why I was not surprised when we got to the hospital and my mom asked the doctor to “double check” that Ginny was gone. She didn’t mind when the doctor said that they had double checked yesterday. She knew God could raise her from the dead. But I had my answer. I did have the chance to petition. I knew in my heart the answer was no. In tears I told my mom, “She’s not here.” She accepted that, and we moved forward with the induction.
In the days since, I’ve been drawn to passages that I’ve glazed over in the past. Passages I didn’t want to focus on before. Passages of “no”.
One of these is 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 where Paul describes a “thorn” in his flesh. A physical ailment that he asked God to remove three times. God answered no each time and responded that his “grace is sufficient for you.” God did not answer in the way that Paul wanted. God used Paul’s pain to reveal the power of his grace to cover all weaknesses.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Another even more powerful example is when Jesus is praying before his betrayal and crucifixion. He asked that this “cup” (his fate) be removed. It was clear that the answer was no in Matthew 27:46 when Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus had to face his fate and bear the sin of the world on that cross.
“And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” – Mark 14:35-36
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?’ That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Matthew 27:46
In looking at both of these examples, we see the pain and suffering of the moment. But we know the bigger story and can see the eternal context. We can zoom out and see God’s grace covering Paul’s weakness. We can fast forward three days and see Jesus’s resurrection and the redemption of the world. The moments seemed hopeless and desperate, but that is not the whole story. Love and grace get the final say.
I don’t know much, but perhaps the same is true for our stories. In the moments that God answers no, we only see disappointment. But maybe one day we will be able to zoom out and see the whole story in an eternal context. Maybe we will one day know the “third day” of our situation – one that stems from the redemption of Jesus’s third day.
During my pregnancy, I prayed for two babies. I prayed for Ginny, and I prayed for a friend of a friend who I heard had a terrible diagnosis. From genetic testing, it was determined that this other baby had a very high probability of having a genetic disorder incompatible with life. The mother chose to carry her baby to term. A few weeks after losing Ginny, I heard that the other baby was born after an emergency delivery – perfectly healthy. No trace of the disorder. It was truly a miracle. He answered our prayers with “yes”. His will be done.