God’s presence, power and provision just a prayer away
Watching the suffering of those affected by the recent hurricanes and the tragedy in Las Vegas has made fresh for me the memories of a terrible storm in my own life. In 2006, when my sister Missy received a fatal ALS diagnosis, I was in Florida with my husband and three boys for Christmas.
Devastated and shell- shocked, we returned home to Richmond the next day. I awoke early the next morning, dropped the kids off at school in a haze and made my way east on Interstate 64, in what would be my first face- toface visit with my sister since her diagnosis, one of hundreds of trips I would make over the next three years. I was unsure what to say to her. How do you encourage someone who has just been told something so horrible?
ALS is a progressive, fatal neurological disease and sufferers usually live only three to five years from diagnosis.
Traffic was unusually light, but as I approached Bottoms Bridge, a dump truck far ahead suddenly switched lanes. I was in the passing lane, with an 18- wheeler on my right and another behind me. To avoid the fray, the truck on my right began pulling into my lane, not seeing me.
I slammed the brakes hard to try to get behind him, looking in the rear- view mirror to gauge the distance of the truck behind me. All I saw was the grill in my mirror — he was about to hit me as well. In that instant, I knew I was out of options, I was about to be pushed off the bridge by not one, but two semis.
A split second stood between me and disaster, and I only had time to scream one of the shortest and most desperate prayers of my life, “GOD! HELP!”
Immediately, the truck to my right swerved back into his lane, hitting the car in front of him, but not injuring anyone. In the space he opened up, I was able to surge forward, narrowly avoiding being rear- ended by the other truck.
It was truly a miracle, almost as if everything were out of our hands for a brief moment. Somehow, the unavoidable was averted, and my parents wouldn’t get two devastating phone calls in one week.
After we sorted out the accident and I was back on the road, it occurred to me that God had just shown himself. He didn’t “show up”— He was always there. He just let me know he was there. That was his theme the next three years. He always let my sister and me know that he was with us. Over and over, he made clear that he heard us, loved us and was trustworthy.
We prayed fervently for healing for my sister, every day, many times a day. Although my sister was not healed physically on Earth, she was healed in her spirit from the very beginning of the illness.
She was healed from bitterness and anger, and rested in God’s arms like a trusting child
Stories of faith
Do you have a personal experience with faith or ethics that you would like to write about? Submit your “Faith & Values” column to Reed Williams at rwilliams@ timesdispatch.com. until the moment he carried her home. At times, I wanted to be angry at God for not answering our prayers the way I wanted them to be answered— but he showed up in other amazing and miraculous ways, walking with us through every moment.
He gave her peace beyond understanding, which was a strong witness to God’s presence in her life.
Through prayer, we received three things during those difficult years: God’s presence, God’s power and God’s provision. He was with us. He made that clear to me after he saved me on Bottoms Bridge, and he continued to make his presence known throughout the entire journey by answering thousands of prayers. He gave us his powerful spirit to bring peace, comfort, joy, patience, love and gratitude that were beyond understanding given the circumstances. And he provided us with all that we needed through his people, for Missy’s needs and the needs of our families.
Ultimately, through this terrible ordeal, I learned to trust. I learned that when I give up a prayer to God, I can trust him with it, no matter what the answer is. I can trust him with my life and with the lives of those I love.
I learned to live Psalm 13: 5, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
Ultimately, I was extremely grateful that he saved my sister and that he healed her body fully and gave her eternal life and a place in heaven, a gift we can all receive. He never failed to show himself, and that is where we found our peace.
“Emmanuel, God with us.” I hope this truth brings hope and comfort to those whose lives have been so affected by the hurricanes and violence of these past few weeks.
KarenWade Hayes is a Richmond-area mom, writer, community volunteer and member of Third Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.