This past Saturday I officiated the funeral for Elsie, a 51-year-old woman with a devoted husband, 3 children, and 2 grandchildren. The place was packed, with perhaps as many people standing as there were seats available. They had all gathered to honor this remarkable woman who fought a good fight.
We first met Elsie, a year ago in October. She had just learned that her cancer, which had been in remission for 2 years, had returned with a vengeance. After dinner that evening I asked if we could lay hands on her and pray for her. We anointed her with oil and prayed a prayer of faith. Throughout my life, I have seen God do many miraculous things and I knew that he could do it again. We continued to pray and give thanks to God for what he was going to do. Elsie’s daughter Alex, wrote this about her mother:
“Elsie never wavered in her faith. Not once. The rain poured, and the lightning struck, and the wind roared. And even through the storm, Elsie stood firmly planted, like a palm tree in a hurricane. And she would not be moved or shaken. Not for a moment did she ever doubt that God would give her victory and ultimate healing.”
What happened? Did God did not answer our prayers? Did we did not have enough faith? That would be a misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. We can ask for great things in prayer and we can move the hand of God, but ultimately our desire is that God accomplishes His good and perfect will and each one of us. Even amidst suffering, Elsie kept the faith and she finished her course strong. Hebrews 10:23 meant a lot to Elsie, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (NIV)
God did not fail Elsie and he will not fail us. Her faith was tested as she went through her “fiery ordeal,” but she held on tightly and she did not waver in the hope that she has in Christ Jesus. She passed the test. Her life stands as a testimony to the saving and keeping power of God.
Some people might have faith in healing or even “faith in faith,” but Elsie had faith in God and the circumstances of her situation did not alter that in the least. I am reminded of the words of Job when he said, “Even if he kills me, I will hope in him.”
Elsie has finished her race, but we continue our journey and we can draw inspiration from Elsie’s courage. She did not give up, but instead, she held on tightly to the God who always keeps his promises. We will continue to have opportunities to pray for people who need miracles and we will see God answer prayer, but we will not be discouraged if God chooses to demonstrate his grace and mercy through a saint who perseveres and holds on tight.