"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 was a day that forever changed the lives of many. On that day, Maria Chapman died tragically. A happy little five year old's heart ceased beating. The hearts of her family members, friends, and fans of her famous daddy were broken.
On that same day, in the community of Bedford, Va., a baby girl was born. Her daddy's fame, at the present time, is primarily in the eyes of God ( the only one that really matters), his precious family, his friends, church members, and the youth that have come to know Christ better because of his tutelage, his passion for Jesus, and the work that God has called him to. This baby girl, Elle, didn't have her story told over the airways or in newspapers. There are millions of people that have no idea that Elle was born with a tiny malfunctioning heart that would be unable to sustain her life without major surgery.
Although no newspapers, radios, or televisions carried the word of Elle's need for the touch of God's hand through the hands of amazing doctors and nurses, because of the technology of email, Facebook, blogs, and cell phones, word spread quickly and prayers were lifted on her behalf...and on behalf of the troubled hearts of her wonderful family. Parents, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Pastors, and friends gathered around that beautiful baby girl and prayed. They praised God...even in the trial. They worshipped Him together. They sought Him fervently and prayed for a miracle.
There are not many commonalities between the trials of May 21 for the Chapman family and the Minor family. Unfortunately, the miracle that the Chapmans prayed for didn't happen. That's hard to comprehend. Lives are changed. The pain is breathtaking. Hearts will be scarred forever. The miracle that the Minors prayed for did happen. Elle's tiny heart bears scars that will allow her to live, a scar on her chest will forever be a reminder to her family of God's work on her behalf.
The two stories do have one thing in common. As Hebrews 12:1 says, they were both "surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses," of family, friends, and strangers who prayed, who testified of God's goodness...even if the miracle doesn't come. God has been glorified through the lives of Maria and of Elle. God has given the comfort and the strength to endure, to persevere and "run the race" before them. He will continue to "bind up the broken-hearted" Isaiah 61...in the broken hearts of grieving families and in the repaired heart of a baby girl.
He is good. All the time.
Lord, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Thank you for the miracles that you perform and for the strength that you give when the miracle doesn't happen. Help our faith to be like that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who proclaimed their faith in you, that "even if [You do not]" save us from the flames (Daniel 3:18) we will still believe in You and trust Your heart. Lord, give us the faith, the help, the strength to run the race in a manner that is pleasing to you. Thank you for family, friends, and strangers (that one sweet day will be joined as family with You) that are there to surround, to hold up, to pray.
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