When my sister died, my family prayed for a miracle. As I knelt next to her and held her hand, I prayed that God would bring her back to life. We fasted food and water and wept and prayed for a miracle, just as King David did for his son.
David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.
The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
(2 Samuel 12:16-17)
What was going through my head during this time? I sincerely believed that God would bring a miracle. The night after her death, our family and friends gathered together to pray. As I prayed, God spoke to me – Everything will be okay. Wait on me. You will get a phone call at 12pm tomorrow. My heart jumped. This was it! I sincerely believed that it would be the morgue, calling up to say – this is a miracle – her body has disappeared!
Later that night, I remember lying on the family room floor talking to my friend Joel. Before I drifted off to sleep, I remember the last thing I said to him was – I can almost taste the miracle. I truly meant it!
Waiting on God
The next day, I waited to see what God would do. I was anxious all morning.I had no doubt that God was going to do something, whether it included raising my sister or not. But the possibility of God keeping my sister in heaven terrified me. I feared the finality of letting go. Honestly, I have never experienced such profound, gut-wrenching fear in my life. Perhaps I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to accept letting go, that it would make me have a nervous breakdown in the agony of grief…
But sure enough, shortly after 12 pm my mobile started ringing. However, there was a surprise.
It wasn’t the morgue.
It was a family friend. She called to tell us that a Christian minister who my family had met in previous years was coming over to deliver us a message he had received from God. Why she called me and not my parents or home phone I do not know! I believe God wanted me to know that he was being faithful to his words to me.
The minister came over and told us he had been praying all through the night for us (literally). We invited him to share what God had said to him about our situation. As he shared God’s Word with us, something happened.
God began to change the atmosphere in all of our hearts. The minister didn’t explicitly state it, but whilst he spoke, we all began to come to a realisation – our sister wasn’t coming back. We would go to her one day, but she would not be returning to us (2 Samuel 12:23).
I thought that letting go of her would destroy me – how does a young man accept that his little sister, who he has shared every day with, has passed away? But as God spoke through this man, something in me changed. Tears flooded my eyes, but I was able to accept it with an indescribable peace. Peace in letting go of our loved one was God’s precious gift to us. After we finished the discussion, we broke fast, for we knew she would be staying with Jesus in heaven. Once again, I felt like King David:
His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
(2 Samuel 12:21-23 )
Belief or foolishness?
It became clear that God’s will was to keep my sister. So what had been the point of praying for a miracle? Had we been presumptuous? Had we been foolish? Had it all been pointless?
I believe Jesus gives an answer in the Book of John. As I wrestled with these questions, my Pastor sat me down and asked me – how many resurrections have you seen in your life?
I told him I had witnessed none.
He replied – and yet, you believed that God has the power to resurrect the dead. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
This is exactly what Jesus told his disciple Thomas after Jesus rose from the grave:
The other disciples told [Thomas], “We have seen the Lord!”
But [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
…Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:25, 27-29)
Even though God’s will was not to return my sister to us, I am comforted knowing that our prayers had not been in vain, for God was pleased by our utter belief in him (Hebrews 11:6). All those who had prayed with us in such a way will be highly commended and blessed for their faith, because they believed in the resurrection power of God, even though they had never witnessed a resurrection before!
Jesus shared that there is a blessing for those who have faith in the God who can do the impossible. God does not judge his people according to outcomes, but according to their belief! In The Bible, Daniel’s friends also trusted in the miraculous power of God, no matter what the outcome was.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
They believed that a miracle would happen – that God would save them from certain death. And God did! But suppose God had a different plan and that they had been burned to death by the Babylonian King. Would God have rebuked them for believing and trusting him, even if a miracle didn’t actually eventuate? Certainly not! The Bible says that even when people do not get to witness all that God promises, their faith earns them a reward in a commendation from God (Hebrews 11:39).
Is God Miraculous?
Do not change your belief in God in a situation based on what you think the outcome will be! God is pleased with those who pray in faith, who really do believe that he is a God of the impossible. This is who he is!
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.
(1 Samuel 2:6)
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Thus, two weeks after my sister passed away, I continue to believe that my God is the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). I will continue to live my days believing in the God who performs miracles (Psalm 77:14).
I will continue to have faith like Abraham.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
(Romans 4:18, 21)