As we sat at the table at Dairy Queen, Dad stared off into space somewhere over my left shoulder. I held his hand across the table as I chattered happily and asked him questions that he could shake his head yes or no to. Every once in awhile, he would focus his beautiful blue eyes on me and I’d catch a tiny glimpse of his old self.
Mom finally made it through the long line at the counter and came to join us at the table. She noticed Dad was sliding down in his chair, so she and I helped him to sit up a little straighter. It wasn’t long before chicken strip baskets and hot fudge sundaes were delivered to our table.
It had been Dad’s idea to come to Dairy Queen. Mom had a spaghetti lunch fixed and almost on the table at home when he wrote down that he wanted to go to Dairy Queen. Mom quickly stuck the spaghetti in the fridge and hurried to get ready. Apparently, she wasn’t going fast enough for Dad, because he got her attention and pointed to the paper, where he had written “Dairy Queen” a second time.
After Mom quickly got herself ready, she helped Dad get ready, got his cane, loaded him in the car, called me to see if I could join them, and then drove the twenty-five minutes to Dairy Queen where I was waiting on them.
Since Dad hasn’t been able to swallow well, we had little hope that he would have a big meal. But, since Dairy Queen was what he wished for, Dairy Queen was what he got.
After the food arrived at our table, it was much as we expected. Dad got down very little of his food and we ended up throwing most of it away. Even the tiniest bite of ice cream was hard for him to swallow. I folded up a paper napkin and gently helped him wipe his mouth and face. As I dabbed at a tear that had slipped out of the corner of his eye, I wondered- for the millionth time, “How can this be happening?”
How can my Daddy, who has always been so strong, so assertive, and so full of life and laughter, be so fragile, so pale, and remote?
How can my Daddy, who has beaten cancer, stood up to bullies twice his size, and nursed countless people back to health, be slipping away right before my very eyes?
Why can’t I save him from this awful disease? Why haven’t I found a magic pill or a special diet that will turn everything around?
Hasn’t God heard my prayers? Hasn’t he seen the thousands of tears that I’ve cried? Couldn’t he hear me as I’ve begged and pleaded with him to please work a miracle and heal my Dad?
These are tough and real questions that deserve honest answers.
The key to these answers centers on the fact that God is in control. As much as I may want to think that I am running the show called life, it’s really God who is calling the shots. And, that’s really a very good thing. It’s much better for all of us if I’m not responsible for the universe. For confirmation that I’m not in control, I open my Bible to Job, Chapters 38 and 39, where God clearly explains to Job that man is not in charge. Here’s what Chapter 38 says.
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
Okay, well, that’s pretty clear. I’m not in control. But what about my tears? Hasn’t God seen all the tears I’ve cried? Once again, I turn to God’s Holy Word. Psalm 56:8 says:
You (God) keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.
So, God has not only seen every single tear that has slipped down my cheeks, but he has cared so much about them that he has collected those tears of unspeakable sadness and grief and kept a record of every single drop.
And there’s more! He is not only watching me, but’s he’s also listening. Psalm 55:17 says
17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
From that verse, it sounds like I’m not the first person to ever cry out to God for help.
So, God is in control, He sees my tears, and hears my prayers. But, will he help me? In Psalm 73: 23 God tells us:
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
Isaiah 41:14 says
I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer.
Psalm 16:8 says
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.
and Matthew 11:28 says
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
I could keep listing scriptures where God promises to help me, but I think you get the idea. God will help me.
Now, here’s the tricky part.
Because God promises to help me, does that mean He is going to work a miracle and restore my Dad to good health?
Well, He certainly could. The Bible lists tons of examples of miracles. But….and this is a BIG but. Remember that part about God being in control? No matter how much I might want God to work a miracle, and no matter how much I might believe that would be the best answer, I have to TRUST God and acknowledge that His plans are best. (Refer back to Job 38-39 if you are faltering on this point.)
God’s plan for my Dad may be to take him home to Heaven. Hard on me, but unspeakably brilliant for Dad! The Bible tells us that Heaven is AMAZING! There are no tears, sorrow, or pain in Heaven. My Dad’s mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and some cousins are all up there.
PLUS, we will come face to face with Jesus in Heaven! Can you imagine the joy?! So…. again, the Dad going to Heaven plan is brilliant for him, but hard for me.
Even though it is hard, when I truly stop and think about Dad in Heaven, with a new body, hugging all of his folks, talking with Jesus, and maybe even picking a tune or two on the streets of glory, it makes me smile. I know that he’d MUCH rather be doing that than choking on ice cream at Dairy Queen.
Plus, I know that no matter how hard it might be for me to let my Daddy go up to Heaven, God will be with me. Deuteronomy 31:8 says
8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
and Joshua 1:9 tells me
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The very best part of this whole story is that one day, Dad (and Mom!) and I will be together again. Romans 10: 9-10 says
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
I accepted Jesus into my heart and became a Christian many years ago, so I have the assurance that one day, Dad and I will be together again. We will laugh and talk and be together with God for all eternity.
All my friends and family being with Jesus for all eternity is the most wonderful thing I can think of. We’d love it if you could be there to. If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart, now is a perfect time. You can do it right now, wherever you’re reading this. It’s simple and it’s life-changing.
Just tell Jesus that you accept him as your Savior, that you believe He died on the cross to save you from your sins, and ask him to come into your heart. You will be SO GLAD you did.
God is so good. Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a life without sorrow or pain, but it does guarantee you will NEVER be alone. Romans 8: 38-39 says
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Being a Christian also means that one day, you will walk on the streets of glory along with Dad and I. No one is guaranteed a certain amount of time on this earth. We could go today, tomorrow, or in ten years. As Christians, whenever it is time for God to call us home, we know that we will be with him in Heaven. On that day, we hope to see you there!