miles to go…

snippets from the zellner family

God’s character January 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 12:01 am
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Many of you know that my step sister, Julie Kitchings Shaw, has now been moved to hospice care in her home.  She has battled stage 4 colon and liver cancer for a year and a half.  She has done so valiantly, inspiringly, and faithfully.  The last 5 days have been a definite turn in her condition and she is still here.  Her facebook page is filled with tributes to her friendships, her joy, her selflessness, and her amazing family.  I echo them all.  She is beautiful inside and out and has been the consummate peacemaker in her life.  Her husband and her children are examples of the blessings that have been given to her in this life and they are her joy.

What saddens my heart at this time is that as the days have moved on, the call for a miraculous healing has gotten louder and stronger.  I echo the desire and would expect nothing less from all of us that love her. But what hurts my heart is all that is implied in statements that are written. There have been calls for everyone to pray right now so that she will be healed.  There has been advice for God to see how many people would believe in Him if He would only heal her now.  There have been threats, such as “God, you need to do it now or I won’t believe in you.” There have been comparisons such as,”Why would God allow an innocent person to die and leave bad murderers to live?’ There have been rebukes to God that Julie is needed here more than she is needed in heaven right now.

I know where the thoughts come from and I can see the pain and sadness in the ideas because they love her and want her to stay here.  But we have lost so much if we think of God in these terms.  How do we know how God works? We have to look in His Word.

We live AFTER the fall.  Therefore, our world is BROKEN.  That means it doesn’t work right any longer.  It has pain, suffering, evil, sin, heartache, sickness and death.  It had none of these things BEFORE the fall.  Since we live after it, we live among the brokenness. There are not two groups of people: innocent and bad.  There is one group: sinners.  Now there are among the sinners: believers and non believers, but all are sinners.  Good things don’t happen to bad people and bad things don’t happen to good people.  Things happen to people- some of it is the fall impacting us (cancer) and some of it is our sin impacting others (hatred, murder, greed)- all here because of the fall.

Julie’s body is broken by cancer- not because she is a sinner, but because she lives in a fallen world.  God’s purpose for all of His people is to bring glory to Himself. And He is going to use Julie’s circumstances (in spite of the fall) to bring Himself glory.  He may do that through a miracle that will point to his healing power and his ability to conquer death, but he may do it through her death.  He may use her life as a testimony.  Everyone has her on their minds and hearts and is asking questions about how she is able to have such an amazing attitude and faith and confidence.  He may use that to drive us to His word to figure it out.

We have to remember His character.  He is good.  He is faithful. He is just.  He is wise.  To look at this in scripture, read Job. He loses everything- and I mean everything.  And the book addresses all these thoughts.  Is God cruel? Is He unjust? Is He teasing people? and God answers Job (and Job’s friends) by telling who He really is.  God is SOVEREIGN.  The requests for prayer- the idea that if we just pray hard enough, if there are just enough us, maybe God will change His mind forget that He is Sovereign.  He is All Powerful.  He is All Knowing.  He isn’t surprised by this and having to wait until the prayer quotient is filled before He will relent.  He doesn’t need our faith to be stronger until He can act.  That would make Him Impotent.  My fear is that there will be great guilt and fear if the miraculous healing doesn’t happen.  Someone will think,”If we only had prayed harder or if more of us had done so, Julie would be here.”  There will be the question,”Did we just not pray correctly?’

I answer those with His Word:  Psalm 139:13-18

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

I awake, and I am still with you.

He knows.  He is Sovereign.  But He is also GOOD.  If He were only Sovereign, we could be in real trouble. He could be as wishy washy as He wanted and we would fear His every move- nothing to appease Him and nothing to restrain Him.  But He is good and loving.  So all His power is harnessed and we receive the blessing because He cares for us.

Again His Word tells us: Psalm 107:1-2

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

whom he has redeemed from trouble.

Let’s pray for Julie as God demonstrated for us in the Lord’s prayer.  “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”


9 Responses to “God’s character”

  1. Amen amen AMEN, sister. Praying for Julie, her husband and kids, and your family. May He wrap His arms around you all and give you peace. And may His name be glorified and praised through it all.


  2. Christi Gamble Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I only knew Julie while we were both at Bama, but she was a beautiful person inside and out. We all prayed so hard for a miracle of healing, but it was God’s will that Julie’s life teach some lesson that many of us are yet to understand. I pray you all can find some sort of peace in this time and that you will all feel loves arms wrapped around you as you go through this most difficult time.

  3. Susan, thank you for these comforting words. I am so so sorry…have been praying daily for Julie. Angie (Stofel) Chapman

  4. Cynthia Says:

    Oh sweet Susan, what wonderful words you shared reminding us all that our flesh and hearts will fail “but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” I love you and am praying for you.

  5. My wife emailed to me your blog post. I’m so grateful she did. I needed to read this and be reminded of this. Thank you for posting.

  6. Babatunde Thomas Says:

    Beautiful words. My thought is share this on Julie’s facebook also for friends & family. This can help give us understanding in a time of great loss & as you said bring God the glory. I knew Julie since 4th grade, haven’t seen her since 12th until we remet on Facebook last summer. It was great getting to reknow her but am very saddened of her passing.

  7. Tara Says:

    God is glorified in your words – you have a gift for making truth clear. I would add that another symptom of brokenness prevailing in the world is the enemy’s deception that we can do things to merit grace and mercy in greater abundance when God has already poured out his all for us. I do wonder sometimes about the story that Jesus told about persistent prayer, where the neighbor who needs bread for his guest won’t go away although everyone is in bed – and he gets the bread because he just keeps on. Still, I struggle every day to reconcile my idea of “good” and God’s idea of “good” but scripture is clear that those won’t be the same, ever. Those who knew and loved Julie are necessarily going to be at different places, spiritually speaking, but God will speak to their hearts as they consider who he is, and maybe, take a journey with him. Take heart, all will be well. So sorry for your loss, will be praying for you in the days ahead as you grieve and process. God bless and cover all of you, especially the family.

    *I knew Julie from being on the dance team with her at Alabama, but before then, I remember her when she cheered for Berry and I cheered for Central (Tuscaloosa) and we competed at cheerleading camp. Even in a massive group of girls, she stood out, you just couldn’t miss her! As our friend Dallas said, she was simply luminous.

  8. Kristen Says:

    Well said. Well said

  9. Tim Says:

    Wow…I’m speechless. You are truly a mature Christian. Our pastor often tells us the story of his wife who passed away from colon cancer at the age of 21. He asked God why he didn’t heal her…and finally he got his answer. God did heal her. Sometimes the healing takes place after we leave this fallen world. God Bless You.

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