Updated: Mar 4
Approximately 2 years, 10 months, and a couple of weeks ago I was driving to Iowa City with one of my younger sisters.
We were on the open interstate, passing an outdoor strip mall, and the sun was shinning so bright that day. Birds were singing, sunglasses were necessary, and you wanted to drive with the windows down. Spring was on its way, and every piece of that day felt incredibly wrong.
Our cousin, who was only nine months younger than me, was on life support. He had machines keeping him alive.
Tanner was born with Cystic Fibrosis. A couple of years prior to this, he had had a lung transplant. Everything had been going so well, but winter can bring a slough of sickness for someone like him.
I had been praying so incredibly hard that he would get better, that he would come off the vent and all the machines he currently needed.
As we passed the strip mall, a song I knew well started playing on the radio. Chain Breaker by Zach Williams. It had played a million times before, but this time was different. I could feel it in my bones. God was talking to me.
Goosebumps spread from my head to my toes, my heart started thumping, and tears flooded my eyes. I knew that God was going to heal Tanner. He was answering my prayers, and He was telling me with a song I knew by heart.
Excitement took over and I so badly wanted to pull over and throw my hands to the sky and dance. Tanner was going to get better, everything was going to be okay. I told my sister in that moment, that there would be nothing but good news when we got to the hospital.
Boy, was I wrong.
Everyone had a look I couldn't understand, until my aunt pulled us aside to explain.
In roughly three short days, Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, they would be making the choice to turn off his machines. Not because he was magically healed, but they were no longer doing anything to benefit him. The machines were only doing us a favor; they were keeping him here with us.
The thing is, though, I was wrong. Not God, but me. He was, indeed, talking to me and telling me He would be breaking Tanner's chains. Only, I chose to see it my way, instead of God's. Sometimes God's healing of us, and fixing our problems looks different than we think it should.
The only way God could heal Tanner, was to take him home. It took a little while for this to set in, but I knew that God had still been talking to me, letting me know He had a plan and to trust Him. He was letting me know our prayers were being answered, just not in the way we thought it should be. I heard God wrong, not the other way around.
You see, God is always listening. He knows what is on our hearts, and what we feel we need. The way we want to solve our problems is not always God's way, and sometimes we are quick to think that God has left us, or we prayed the wrong thing. But, in truth, only He knows what we truly need.
Tanner lived an extraordinary life. He lived every single day to the absolute fullest, leaving no stone unturned. He did crazy things like street racing and hanging out in fields in the middle of nowhere with friends. Things that I thought dangerous and sometimes stupid, but looking back I see he knew he wouldn't live forever and he didn't want to spend his days hiding in a room trying to protect himself. He wanted to live, and live he did. His purpose in this life was almost fulfilled, and it was time for him to finally, after 22 years of sickness, constant poking and prodding, and endless stays in the hospital, be whole for the first time ever.
It can be astronomically hard to accept the answers to our prayers at times. We have to trust that God knows what He's doing. He has a plan that we cannot fully grasp, and everything will work out in the end, for something good.
Keep praying. Continue leaning, trusting, and putting all of your faith in Him. He will never lead you astray or forget you in your darkest hours. God will never leave nor forsake you. He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Just as it says in the Bible verses Deuteronomy 31:6 and Jeremiah 29:11.
Trust Him, even when the answers to your prayers don't line up as surely as you thought they would. He still has a plan, and He needs you to trust that. The faith of a mustard seed is all it takes, my friend.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28