Exceedingly Abundantly

by Simon Harris

God, please use Kelsey to bring glory to your Name. We know the odds are against us, but we trust in You. Please use our daughter as a living example of Your power to heal, that all may glorify You as the Great God of Heaven.

That was my prayer when we first learned that our beautiful daughter, Kelsey, had an aggressive brain tumor in the worst possible location. We learned that less than 5% of the children who get this tumor survive longer than 14 months, but we also knew that our God was more than capable of healing her. I repeated this prayer for months, but somewhere along the way, I stopped praying that particular prayer, not because I had given up or lost hope — my prayer simply changed.

Not until April 10, 2009, as we were leaving the funeral home to go to the cemetery to bury the "tent" our daughter had occupied for 16 years and 28 days did I realized that God had answered my prayer in accordance with Ephesians 3:20 and had done so in an "exceedingly abundant" way. While I was praying that my daughter would be a living example of His power to heal, He was using her as an everlasting example of His power to save. Where I prayed for God to be glorified as the God of all healing, He has shown Himself to be the Great God of salvation. It was His will to use Kelsey in a way that went far beyond anything I could have ever comprehended.

Unanswered or Answered?

In a time like this, some might question God, wondering why He didn't answer the prayers of so many who fervently brought Kelsey's name before His throne in their daily petitions, but we must
realize that He did hear our prayers and He did what He always does. He answered them according to His will. As always, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). What God did for Kelsey was so much better than what I was asking Him to do.

If God had answered my prayer according to my will, Kelsey would still have had a broken body. The tumor had damaged the nerves that controlled the left side of her body and the right side of her face. Even in a "best-case scenario," she would still have had those limitations. But God dealt with her broken body by removing the corruptible so that she could put on the incorruptible (II Corinthians 4:16-5:4). He set aside the temporary so she could put on the perfect and permanent.

God's answer to my prayer was "exceedingly abundantly" above what I could have thought in that He removed all her suffering. Too often we think about the suffering of a cancer patient only in terms of physical pain, but the pain was the least of Kelsey's suffering. Her greatest suffering was simply not being about to live like a normal sixteen-year-old girl. God removed all that so that she is now in a place where suffering does not exist (Revelation 21:4). It's not that He just removed the suffering of cancer, but she will never face the suffering that comes from living in a world filled with sin and heartache.

A Bigger Perspective — for Her, for Me, for You

It's natural to think about the things Kelsey will miss out on, but my friends, we are the ones missing out! Romans 8:18-25 makes it clear we are the ones groaning to be with the Lord. Think about this (only if you're over thirty!), would you really want to be sixteen again, knowing you'd have to live through the pain and sadness all over again?

God's answer was merciful in that He removed her fears. Not until the week before Kelsey died did she confess that she had some fears about what she was facing. My initial reaction was to assure her that I understood why she was scared, but also to reassure her that she was going to a place where she would never be afraid again — forever! Most of us would admit to having fears as we contemplate that ultimate test of our faith. But imagine facing it at sixteen. While I could only offer words of comfort, God was able to provide true comfort. Notice what Jesus said about the time of Lazarus' death in Luke 16:22, "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom..." There may be points to argue in this passage, but one thing is for sure, God gives comfort to His children at the very moment of their departure.

God's answer to my petition was also better for me as well. First, He has removed a major source for worry from my life. Almost as soon as Kelsey was diagnosed my wife said to me, "We are going to be dealing with this for the rest of her life:' Had God answered my prayer according to my will, five, ten, and even twenty years from now, I would still be worrying about Kelsey. Thanks be to God I will never worry about Kelsey again. She had committed herself to Him, and He never disappoints (II Timothy 1:12). Second, and more importantly, throughout this trial, I have gained a greater spiritual focus. My eyes have been opened to what is really important, and it cannot be seen with eyes of flesh. Jesus warned us about not having a spiritual focus in Matthew 6:19-21. He told us that those who lay up treasure on the earth are always disappointed, but those who set their sights on heaven are never let down. It has been rightly said that this life isn't about this life. It is about preparing for the next. God has certainly shown this to me.

God's answer was also better for everyone else who can see this shining example of His glory and power that goes beyond what we can ask or think. He has given us yet another reason to praise Him! That should be our reaction when we see Him answer our prayers in an exceedingly abundant fashion (Ephesians 3:21). He has again shown Himself to be trustworthy. In Kelsey's life, and her death, we have seen a wonderful illustration that all things do work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28), and I do not believe He is finished showing us all the good that He is working!

A Small Man and a Big God

In all of this, God has given us yet another lesson on why it is so wise to serve Him. We often talk about why it is unwise to rebel against God, but there is good reason to serve Him. "If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies ...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:31-39). That is a reason to serve God with every fiber of your being!

I started this journey as a small man looking for a small favor from a big God. What I got was an answer that was bigger than anything I could have imagined from a God who is even more awesome than I ever knew! I never asked, "Why Kelsey? and Why me?" Now, looking back, I know why. God was using Kelsey to bring glory to His Name. When I was thinking about God using Kelsey as a living example of His power to heal, He was using her as an everlasting illustration of His power to save. For that, I simply say, "Praise God!"

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