Sometimes God shows up in miraculous ways; in ways we never expect, where He makes the now and not yet seem more now then yet. It is in these moments where we sit back and give God glory because He heals, redeems and makes all things new and we know this because we have experienced it first hand – with our own eyes. These are the moments we look back on for the rest of our lives.
Then there are moments which bring us to our knees and help us long for the yet to be now because we are stuck in the middle of murk, mire and sludge. It is so dark we could never, ever begin to understand what is going on in the mist of it. The darkness becomes normal. There is hope because foundationally we understand God is savior, God is healer and the world is not how He has intended it to be. These moments are hard, they are times we could never begin to appreciate in that season and even when out of the season, we still find hard to fully grasp, process and understand.
These are the memories of when God doesn’t heal.
At least, not in the expected, hoped for, prayed for ways.
God taught me things through watching a brother and a best friend die of cancer, that I never could have learned in seminary. God taught me things through watching him leave his wife behind, a wife of less then a year, a wife whom he clearly, fundamentally made better then she was before Ramon. I also know the Ramon who left all of us, was a transformed and changed man in the two years I knew him and the little under two years him and Allie had gotten to know each other. I will never forget him.
I can’t forget him.
Hardly a day goes by where I don’t think about my brother.
The journey of cancer did not end in the ways we wanted. We wanted the now to give way to the yet and break through our pain. We wanted him healed and restored. We wanted to not suffer loss. We longed to see God magnified through a miraculous healing.
Instead we walked through…
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)
He passed away as I was memorizing this passage of scripture for my class. The week he passed away is when I needed to finish this passage – it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. This is the yet that is not now, this is what we had longed for. Instead, we were left to deal with tears, sorrow, sadness and death. God’s plan is different and one day we will get to see a world without pain, death and cancer. One day I’ll see my brother again. One day all will be right and there will be none of the pain of this world.
This is my brother and his wife. This year I learned sometimes God doesn’t heal – in the ways we expect. Conversely I learned He does make all things new. My brotherhood will forever always be missing a brother, but this year I’ve also seen that brotherhood grow. I’ve also seen a woman, who by no means is out of the murk and mire, but also seen her rely on God and have God show up in her life in amazing ways.
It’s not over. I’m still praying for his wife. However, we both know we’ll see him again – fully healed and restored. This excites me.
God was magnified through the life and death of Ramon because Ramon made Jesus famous til his last breath. As God would have it, Ramon and his father were able to have conversations about Jesus – when they hadn’t seen each other in years. At the funeral, his dad even raised his hand to say yes to Jesus. If this was all real and the Spirit took root in his dad’s heart, Ramon’s death left a legacy as well as his life.
He will never be forgotten.