February 15, 2012

The Greater Miracle

I sat staring at my e-mail in-box. Did I really want to open and reread those e-mails? Hadn’t I cried enough? felt enough pain?
I’d spent the past five months watching my brother lose his battle with cancer. And it had been exhausting. On weekends I would make an eight-hour-round-trip drive to be with him. At first, to take walks and visit with him; then later, to sit by his bedside and hold his hand, speaking words of love and hope. Great love. Great hope.
We kept in touch daily between those weekends—if not by phone, then by e-mail. I saved the e-mails, knowing that one day they would be precious to me. The day before his funeral, as I sat in front of my computer, I decided to read a few. This one stood out:
So be of good cheer and know that I have a lot of fight in me. This is God’s opportunity with my back against the wall to prove Himself faithful . . . and He will. I have no doubt about that.—Dan.
2012 1505 page31My heart sank. “Oh, no,” I said to myself. “He had so much faith, but the miracle didn’t happen.” No sooner did I have that thought than I said to myself, “Wait a minute! That’s not true! It didn’t happen now, but this isn’t the end! God will prove Himself faithful. There’s a greater miracle coming!”
My brother being healed from stage 4 cancer would have been a magnificent miracle. The news would have spread from coast to coast. But for God to breathe back into a man the breath of life and make him alive again—and not just alive, but cancer-free with an immortal body—that’s the greater miracle! Being with Dan in his final hours, and watching him breathe his last breath, made me realize just what an incredible miracle that will be. A man who was once dead will live again—for eternity!
Back on that dreary day when my brother’s graveside service was over, I found it difficult to leave. I didn’t know how to leave. What should I do or say? Then it came to me. I looked down at his grave and repeated softly—yet with great conviction—the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (NKJV).* And that’s how I left my brother’s grave. With a promise. With the promise.
If you’re praying for a miracle, I sincerely hope that God says yes, even now. But if for some reason He doesn’t, I want to remind you that someday you will receive a greater miracle. Titus 2:13 calls it “the blessed hope.” Without this hope, I would have left my brother’s graveside feeling that this was the absolute end. Instead, I left with a promise—a promise too bright for the darkness of this world to hide. As my husband said, consoling me: “It’s a dark tunnel. But if you look closely, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is the Second Coming.”
That is the greater miracle.
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Nancy Canwell writes from Walla Walla, Washington, where she has served as a pastor. She is now a freelance  writer, writing the 2014 Junior/Earliteen Devotional for the Review and Herald Publishing Association. She is pictured here with her brother, Dan. This article was published February 16, 2012.