I wanted to share a letter we received this week from a friend. She articulated a number of things that we have struggled with and we thought many of you could also benefit from reading her well thought out words...
Dear Pam, Bruce, Dani & Jordan,
I probably knew Jenna the least well of any of your family friends, but I write this letter to tell you that her passing has had an indelible impact on my life. I think of her absence from this earth and pray for your family on a daily basis. I cannot imagine how much pain you feel each day to wake up and remember the fact that she is gone. I wanted to write to you and tell you how much she meant to me and how I have begun to process our fighting for her life in the spiritual realm, followed by her death, with the hopes that these reflections bring any comfort whatsoever to your hearts.
[She said a lot of nice & meaningful things about Jenna which I will put under COLLECTIONS but for now I will skip to the part where she articulates so well the struggle a lot of us have had.]
Jenna´s death has rocked my understanding of prayer and humbled me before God. I had begun to believe that I had some sort of control over the universe by my prayers and that I understood God´s will enough to know for sure that Jenna´s death was not a part of it. I believed that if enough people prayed hard enough we could change God´s mind about delivering her from the ravages of cancer right here and now. I was wrong.
I have been stopped short in my tracks, speechless at the realization that no amount of prayer, however earnest, can alter God´s sovereignty. No amount of human wisdom can fathom God´s ultimate intentions. Do I still believe a powerful God exists and that this God is loving toward all of us, even though he did not heal Jenna? Yes, I do. But Jenna´s death was so tragic and so earth-shaking, that I have had to stop and seriously consider these questions I feel I must do so to test the integrity of my own faith and for the benefit of my friends who do not believe, so that I can more sincerely answer their doubts. You are not alone in any confusion and pain you express and I thank you for sharing it with us, your support network, through your blog and fb posts. It has blessed us all.
Throughout the process of praying for Jenna, I found solace in the Holy Spirit´s whispering to me over and over again that, ¨it is going to be alright¨, though I clearly misinterpreted this assurance at the time to mean she was going to be healed before our eyes. I was also deeply moved by the realization (based on facebook comments) that those who participated in praying for her all over the world sensed that ours were powerful prayers. Before her death, we believed that God was going to channel this power into her earthly healing. But even at the time, I had a sense that God was doing much more than a work inside Jenna´s body. He was changing things on an invisible level, where we could not measure our impact, but felt it deeply in our spirits. I still feel that we were shaking the gates of hell by our prayers. I stop and ask myself, ¨Is this just wishful thinking? Am I just grasping at straws to find some redeeming value in what was really just a colossal waste of prayer?¨ My spirit responds vehemently that, ¨NO! We do not understand what has happened here, but someday we will.¨ In this future hope, I put my doubts to rest and surrender Jenna to God. It is a wane light I see in that distant sunrise, but it will be bright someday, blindingly so.
I pray that you will be protected from the deepest pain of the withdrawal of a sense of God´s nearness in this time of grief. May God´s truth surrounding this tragedy grow brighter each day for you and those who witness your family´s grief. May his glory be multiplied in such a way that all of heaven will remember the toil of your sorrow for what it reaped in the eternal realm. But for today, may the memories and vivacity of all that was and is Jenna comfort you as you hold one another up.
Laura (Morris) Saylor
Mark and Joann Morris, the parents of Laura, have graciously lent us their guest house over the years when we´re back in California. This has been a refuge for us and we have made a myriad of great memories there with them, including long walks/runs with deep conversations like this one!