Everyone Has A Story
Seeing God’s Faithfulness
Through Great Loss
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Pastor Adam Mallett, Jr.
Adapted from sermon by
Pastor Gary DarDar, Jr.
This week we got to hear a testimony from Dane and Angie Morvant. Please be sure to listen to the podcast! However, due to some technical issues, the first few minutes of their testimony did not record properly and was omitted from the podcast. In 2014, Taylor Morvant, Dane and Angie’s son, my brother-in-law, was killed in a work-related accident. He was struck in the head and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him immediately unresponsive. He was transported to the nearest hospital, where it was determined that he needed to be sent immediately to a bigger, better equipped hospital. Taylor was then transferred to Our Lady Of Lourdes in Lafayette, where many, many people gathered to wait for the prognosis. The podcast audio picks up at this point, as Angie recounts the large number of people who were there for Taylor and his hurting family. I was there, myself, and that was a very large waiting room! And it was nearly full of people who love the Morvant family! What was amazing to see was that waiting room filled with a huge circle of people holding hands, praying in one accord for Taylor’s healing, as well as a mighty move of God in and through everyone gathered there that day. Unfortunately, Taylor passed away there at Lourdes, and his organs were donated to LOPA.
God has worked in great and mighty, and unexpected ways, through this tragedy in our lives, and we saw that even in the waiting room at Lourdes! As already mentioned, God began to work even that first day in the waiting room at Lourdes. People prayed together, ministered to each other, encouraged one another, and the Spirit of God had great freedom to move among us all. It was a difficult, yet very powerful time in our lives. As we discuss a few things that God has put on my heart in response to Sunday’s testimony and message, I hope that you give God the freedom to move in the way the He did in that waiting room years ago. Dane and Angie shared what God taught them in the midst of their tragedy, and much of it was insightful and powerful to be applied to our lives, even when tragedy is nowhere in sight!
If you are a visual person, and if you are able to, picture the scene with me as you read this article. Imagine that you are there in that waiting room. It is full of people! There were probably around one hundred people gathered that day! People are crying, talking, remembering, hoping, and even laughing. One person feels prompted by God to go pray for a stranger who is waiting, not with our group, for a family member who had a medical emergency. That person shares their pain and struggles, and is grateful to have someone pray with and for them. Another person from our group is grieving so deeply that they put aside the differences that they have with someone else, simple to jin in prayer with someone else who loves Taylor and all the Morvants. A security officer from Lourdes is moved by the same Holy Spirit that is moving among us, and he feels led to gather everyone around so that he can share an encouragement that God has put on his heart for us. I am a very visual person, and I was there, so it is easy for me to recall these images and continue to be moved by them. But, if this is not the case for you, please do your best! This scene can teach us many things about the way God works in the lives of His people, especially in times of great loss!
The source of our strength is God, but He often uses one Christian to manifest that strength in other Christians.
If you have ever experienced a great loss or tragedy in your life, you will (hopefully!) know that God alone is the source of our strength. We cannot be strong enough, especially not in the face of the death of a loved one. We cannot press on by our own might when we feel the weight of such deep pain in our hearts. But it is not always our first instinct to look to God for the strength that we need to get through our circumstance. Even if it is our first instinct, I think that we often don’t understand how to look to God for strength! We know how to pray, and we ask God for strength, but we still try to muster that strength on our own. We admit that we need that divine strength, but we try to muster it up from within ourselves. It can be difficult for such physical things as humans to really get the picture of tapping into that invisible, divine strength that we need to make it is this wicked world.
As an aside, even if you are on the mountaintop, you need God’s strength! You certainly didn’t get on the mountaintop by your own strength, and you will not stay there if you try to muster up your own strength to abide! We have a lot on our plate as human image-bearers of the Living God, and its going to take some serious strength the handle that appropriately. The mountaintop can become the valley in an instant when we don’t keep in step with the Spirit as we live life.
I heard someone say this familiar phrase recently: “They say God doesn’t give us more than we can handle!” This gentleman shared with me that he had just lost his wife, and had also experienced two other tragedies, all within this year. He felt as though God must have gotten some wires crossed, because he didn’t feel like he was strong enough to handle what God was putting on his plate. Unfortunately, another customer began to offer some encouraging, incorrect words of wisdom foolishness, telling this man that he must have the strength somewhere in him if God was putting it all on his plate to handle! But why would the all-powerful God create beings who were string enough to not need God at all? If I was God, I would create the weakest, most foolish things I could create, simply for the purpose of making them need me, love me, and be devoted to me! Really, if you read the Word, and all that it says abut the dynamic that God desires between Himself and His creation, I’m not far off! Our greatest strength pales in comparison with even the smallest measure of God’s strength! Have you ever arm wrestled your dad, and it seemed like you might have a chance at winning, then at the last moment, he completely destroys all your efforts, revealing that he was only barely trying? Its like that, but the gap between my strength and the strength of my Heavenly Father is infinitely larger! Although my dad was definitely very strong, to such an extent that I might as well have limbs made out of pipe cleaners, even his great strength would be nothing more than a wisp in comparison to the mighty arm of God! God definitely puts more on our plate than what we can handle! Even the beating of my heart is beyond my ability to control! (I know someone somewhere might be able to trick their body into a slower or quicker pulse, but no one can actually completely control their heart muscle.) If I cant even control my own heart muscle, what makes me think that I have the strength or ability to deal with tragedy, trials, and difficulties in life?
My God supplies all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus! And that is good news for all of us! But, as I pondered this thought, God helped me to realize something important, especially in light of that scene we recalled from February 2014. God gives me more than I alone can handle, but I know that God equips His church in such a way that we are made able to handle every situation as a unified Body of Christ! I might not have the strength to pray or even hold my head up as I walk through the fire of a great loss, but one of my brothers or sisters in Christ can pray for me and with me. One of my church family members can lift my chin for me, helping me to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. God is truly the only source of all strength, but He uses His children to manifest that strength in the lives of those around His children! You might not have the strength, but God might use me to give you strength. Though God certainly does not need to use people to manifest His strength, He is gracious enough to choose to use us to do so! We are vessels of His Spirit, and it is our responsibility to allow Him to pour into us, that we might overflow into those He has placed in our lives.
This is why intercessory prayer is so important! We pray for each other so that while we have strength, we can be used by God to supply strength to those who have none.
This is why fellowship with each other is so important! When we spend time with each other, we can be sued by God to make up what is lacking in other’s spirits. When you have strength, someone else doesn’t. When you have joy, someone else doesn’t. When you have peace, someone else doesn’t.
This is why transparency, honesty, and humility with each other is so important! When we fellowship with façades, we accomplish nothing! In fact, when we fellowship with façades, we make things worse! But when we are open and honest with each other, we can come to a better understanding of how to use what God has given each of us individually in a way that builds the church for the good of this broken world and the glory of God!
I want to encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 6, as you continue to let God speak to you through this topic. Also, in regards to transparency and honesty, I want you to know that I am a great listener! We have heard a lot in the news about suicide in the past week, and I understand that people don’t feel as though they can talk with someone about the darkness that they are going through. I have been there, questioning the purpose and the worth and the usefulness of life, and I would be more than happy to hear whatever is on the heart and mind of anyone who may be reading this and contemplating taking their own life! Please know that you are not alone in your struggle!
God always answers prayer, and it is foolish of us to presume that our desired answer is the only correct answer.
We pray for healing, yet our eyes see none. We pray for blessings, yet our pockets seem to stay empty. We pray for signs, yet continue to have no understanding. I think most people are good at praying, in a sense. It is natural to cry out when we are in trouble. Even babies do that! They cry out, directionless and helpless, and quickly learn that someone much bigger than them will answer and help them. Even lost people do this. I have friends and family who are not Christians who ask me to pray for them. Pray is an inbuilt behavior in all people, but what is usually lacking is the understanding of how that prayer is supposed to work! We pray for something, and keep our eyes peeled for that something to happen! Yet, we assume that God has ignored our prayer when that something doesn’t happen. We try to pigeon-hole God into our mold and our perspective, and we limit our ability to be blessed by doing so!
I have always had pretty good eyesight. I can see a lot farther than most people. I can read street signs way before we are close to them, and I can spot someone a ways away in a crowd. Yet I can’t see what God is working around me. My physical eyes can only see the physical! When we are praying for healing, and the cancer gets worse, we accuse God of not answering our prayer! When we are praying for a financial break-through, and we see a negative sign in front of our bank account balance, we accuse God of neglecting our needs! Yet our God is capable of blessings and answers that far exceed the limits of human understanding and perspective! I prayed that my dad would be healed of cancer, and he was. After several months of suffering, he died. No longer is he bound by sick, hurting flesh. No longer is he bound by financial burdens and emotional struggles. He was healed! Just not the way that I had hoped! If my dad had been healed the way that I thought was best, the cancer might have come back later on in his life. The he might have had to experience a different sickness or struggle.
God ALWAYS answers our prayer, but we usually miss that answer. This applies to more than just prayers from the valley! We pray that God would give us opportunities to minister to someone, and we go our whole life waiting for that opportunity to present itself. But you have a mouth! You have a brain! And that person is standing right there! Minister! What are we waiting for? We ask God to open a door, but we refuse to look at any door other than the one we prefer to be opened for us. So when God does open the perfect door for us, we miss it!
As I already stated, I think that we are all pretty good at praying. We know how to cry out to someone bigger than us in the hope that we get some kind of help. But our prayers often suffer from inaccuracy. We waste words, causing our ignorance to thrive. We pray vaguely, or, just the opposite, we pray so specifically according to our desires. I think that, often, we pray with our eyes zoomed to far out to see that details of God’s working, or we pray with our eyes zoomed right in on our own heart’s desire and we miss what God is doing right in our peripheral vision.
“God be with me today as I start this new job.” What do you mean by that? God is always with you! At the end of the day, you might feel as though God wasn’t with you, but what in the world did you even pray for? He is omnipresent! That vague prayer was answered before you were ever awake! Instead, we might pray something like this: “God, as I start this new job today, I ask that you would give me strength to handle what might be new and difficult, patience to learn what my new job entails, and wisdom to interact with my coworkers in a way that pleases you.” That is a lot more to say and pray, but its not like you don’t speak bigger sentences when you are gossiping at lunch after church! We know how to make sentences, and we know how to cry out to God, but we just don’t know how to pray accurately. The opposite might be that you pray something like this: “God, bless me with a higher paying job, because I just don’t have enough money right now.” Well, unless you suddenly get a job offer that pays a lot more than what you are currently making, it will seem to you as though God is ignoring your needs! Instead, maybe you ought to pray, “God, I feel as though my finances are too slim. I ask that you would supply my financial needs, whether it is through a reduction in expenses, or an increase in income. Either way, I trust You as my provision, and I ask that you would give me wisdom through your Spirit to be a good steward of all that You have blessed me with.” Again, that is a lot more words to say, but if you feel as though you don’t have time to pray, you are definitely not being a good steward of the resources that God is blessing you with!
God has continued to challenge me this year with being intentional and accurate with my prayers. As a bi-vocational pastor, I always feel as though I am too busy to pray, to poor to tithe, and too burdened to carry someone through their difficulties. Yet, I know that God hears every one of my prayers, even the inaccurate, poorly worded prayers. And I trust that He is going to answer my prayers in a way that is perfect for my good and His glory! I just have to keep being faithful and obedient to pray! I’d like to challenge you with that same thing. Be obedient to pray, no matter how busy or burdened you feel, and see how God responds to your faithfulness!
Our Father knows exactly what we need, even what songs we need to hear!
This last topic for this week’s Reflections isn’t quite as deep or profound (or whatever!) as the rest of what I try to write, but I firmly believe it to be true. And I deeply appreciate what it means in my life! God knows everything, and He concerns Himself with some very important things in this world. For instance, He supervised the meeting that President Trump just had with Mr. Kim. He also made sure that that truck didn’t pull out in front of me Monday. He also looked over whatever happened in your life this week! But God also concerns Himself with things that we might think are trivial. For instance, Angie shared on Sunday that she kept waking up with a particular song stuck in her head. It Is Well was written by a man who had just recently lost his daughters, and our Heavenly Father knew that Angie needed to be encouraged by that song. I believe that when we wake up with a song in our heads, we should pay attention to it! When you wake up and can’t stop singing Amazing Grace or Blessed Be The Name or even Heaven Fall Down, we can rest assured that God saw a need or an event coming up in our lives, and He is planting a seed that will grow into our perfect provision!
Sometimes, this will happen before the fact. I sometimes wake up with a song stuck in my head, only to run into a circumstance later that day that is perfectly matched with whatever I have been singing to myself all day! But sometimes, we face a difficult circumstance, and then God plants that seed. In a time of dryness and deadness, God plants something that will provide perfectly. In both cases, I think it is important that we are aware that God works in this way. I think that we sometimes forget that our great big God attends to such small details! He is just as much concerned with what you will be singing today as He was concerned with the meeting of two world leaders this week!
Whenever we do find ourselves with that seed planted, we must be faithful to water it. As a musician, I like to go learn how to play the song. Whenever I wake up with a song in my head, I like to at least look up the chords or read through all the lyrics at some point in the day. It helps me remember the song better. But the best thing to do is simply sing it! Sing it all day long, and eventually God will allow you to understand what you are singing or why you are singing it! Until that seed grows, we must water it and tend to it.
I don’t really have much to say about this part! I just thought it was encouraging to hear how God planted that song like a seed in my mother-in-law’s heart, and to be reminded of the times that God has done the same for me. I think maybe someone needed to be reminded of that as well! Or maybe someone never really realized that God works in that way. Whatever the case, I hope that this encourages you, and I hope that God is planting a seed in your life that you will nourish and tend to until it blossoms and becomes your perfect provision for whatever season of life you are in!