A Decade of Prayers Answered

Isn’t it funny as we age that there are certain people who remain the same age in our minds even though they’re aging, too?  For instance have you ever run into someone and see their “baby” and say “Look how big you’ve gotten.  It seems like you were just born!  I remember when you were a baby!” realizing it was actually more than 10 years ago they were a born?  I have memories of children I was a nanny for in college and in my mind Amelia will always be 4 and Ethan will always 1.  Obviously they’ve grown since but I like them in my mind as being ages 4 and 1…it’s a sort of denial I suppose.  I don’t even want to think of what their actual ages are because then I will really feel old.  There is another person who will always remain a younger version of herself in my mind.

Nicole was the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen.  She was tiny and petite with brown curly hair, braces, freckles and she was always tan.  She was a freshman when I was a senior and like myself she played the clarinet in band.  I was the drum major and got to know her quite well while helping her with music.  She was fun and outgoing and always had something to talk about.  I just loved her.  Of course I graduated, went to college and started my career and she continued on with high school.  It wasn’t long before I heard devastating news that Nicole had been diagnosed with cancer.

Throughout the next few years I would hear updates from her family whom I saw often while I only occasionally saw Nicole.  It seemed news would be grim and then after a time her diagnosis would be seemingly optimistic.  All the while I prayed that God would heal Nicole.  I also prayed that His will would be done, that He would be glorified and that Nicole would find God’s purpose for her in her suffering and she would embrace Jesus.  That same prayer would continue for nearly 10 years.  Last week my husband told me Nicole was not doing well and this past Monday she passed away.

Nicole did many amazing things along the road God placed her on.  Not only did she courageously survive a terrible disease for 10 years, she went to college and worked in research as in intern at the Van Andel Institute.  She encouraged and befriended many other cancer patients and touched countless lives.  She also shared her faith in Jesus with those she loved because she wanted to see them again one day.  Today as I was praying that the Lord would comfort Nicole’s family whom I love dearly the Lord revealed something to me.  All of those hundreds and hundreds of prayers over the past 10 years had been answered, every single one.

Nicole ran the race the Lord placed before her and she has crossed the finish line.  She has reached her eternal destination.  Never again will she be sick, never again will she struggle, and never again will she suffer.  She has received her prize…she is in heaven with her Savior Jesus Christ.  As sad as I am for her mother, her grandmothers, her aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends, I am ecstatic for Nicole.  She has experienced victory in Jesus after she accomplished His purpose for her on earth despite her suffering. 

In my mind Nicole will always be that cute little freshman…long before cancer ever entered her life.  I like remembering her that way.  I hope that’s what she looks like when I see her again one day when the Lord calls me home…after I accomplish the purpose He has for me.  Until then I will suffer and struggle and hurt, but that’s okay.  Nicole is a great example to me of how I need to courageously live to press on toward the goal.  And these past 10 years are a tremendous reminder that I can never stop praying for those I love. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

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