Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
I have tried not to write about this. It is so hard. So unspeakably hard.
Before I type another word, let me say that before and after everything, my heart is shattered for this family. A mother and father staring into death. A precious girl found without breath. On Saturday, their two-year-old girl did not wake. My only daughter turns two in February, and I cannot fathom the anguish they face.
Grace, may my words here be coated in grace.
As I read of the Heiligenthal family’s story, followed their posts since Saturday and what the world is saying of this call for revival, I have been left unsettled. My heart aches for this fellow mama. Pray as you will, pray as you must, and collapse into the arms of our listening God. No one can take that right from you.
But also, please consider, with such declarations that God will surely raise this child, are we placing promises in His mouth?
When we declare what God will do, although that declaration is inconsistent with His normal behavior and unbacked by His Word, we cause the world to question: what does it mean if He doesn’t act?
When we declare that someone’s “time here is not done”, are we attempting to be God ourselves? As you “with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for,” is it not a lowering of the gaze from what He ultimately paid for? His sacrifice on our behalf was not first or foremost about earthly life.
My fear is that by placing promises in God’s mouth, we disregard the promises He has given us that are certain. We lay aside the promises that He draws near to the broken hearted. That He gives us everything for life and godliness. That nothing can separate us from His love. That one day He will wipe away every tear. That His blood is enough. These are the promises we hold in full assurance, so why would we grasp for those which He simply did not give?
I too have been guilty of this. How often do I ask Him for less than what He has promised? I ask Him to make me strong, forgetting that He promised me His own strength. I ask Him to make me better, forgetting that He gives me His own righteousness. I ask Him to forgive me a million times, sitting under the weight of shame, forgetting that His grace has already covered all of my iniquities. He looks at me and sees the blood of His Son.
It is not that I doubt God can raise this precious girl, it’s that I doubt He will, based solely on His history and normative behavior. He has brought flat pulses back to life. He raised His own Son three days after He was placed in the grave. His history says He can, and I believe it full well. But it’s not what I see Him doing regularly.
I do wonder, in this story, what might happen if God did choose to raise Olive. Of course He is able. But then what about the mother right now on the other side of the world crumpled over the body of her dead child, lost to a disease as curable as diarrhea? I’ve met those children. I’ve looked into the eyes of those mothers. They have no mega church nor massive social media platform to call on for prayer. I don’t think it matters to God, just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God does what He will do, despite the masses. He hears our prayers, and His global church is a magnificent, messy, grace-covered miracle. But God does not require a mass to weigh His decision one way or another. He hears the mama alone in her closet, too.
I agree with all my heart that Jesus died to defeat the grave. Death no longer reigns. But this hope is eternal, and for a time we must still endure living in this broken world. The resurrection hope is the blessed assurance that when our bodies fail, we’ll open our eyes to see Him face to face. When we say what God will do, do we downplay what He has already done? Do we shortchange ourselves of His promises?
Not even Jesus had the audacity to tell God what was best or how He ought to act. In the face of His impending crucifixion, Jesus “fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus was killed the next day, a death that made our life possible.
I don’t want to show the world a shallow faith by declaring true what God never said was true. No, I want to believe Him for even better things, things sure to come. May our faith—and the words it manifests itself in—despite any circumstance, point all glory to a God who is good—no matter what. A God who, yes, has defeated the grave. A God whose thoughts and ways are higher than our own.
In the depths of Job’s sorrow, God declared His sovereignty,
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know…
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this…
Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?”
From Job chapters 38-41 God proves His knowledge, wisdom, and sovereignty over earth and all its ways. How does Job, in the aftermath of losing everything, respond?
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Yes, our God can do all things. But we cross a precarious line when we decide what He will do, when we declare things “too wonderful” (or in the original Hebrew “things too high” “difficult” or “hidden”) for us.
I do not stand in the shoes of Olive’s parents. Were I to find myself in their position, I don’t know what questions I would ask. I can’t imagine what thoughts would run through my mind. My heart can hardly bear to think of it. I am in no place, nor do I want to judge this family. By all means, pray and beg and plead, and grieve.
As I write these final words, I stop to duck into my daughter’s room. I scoop her up from the crib, and cry into her shoulder. None of us know the number of our days. And I pray that sweet Olive’s story will leave a legacy starting right here, as I hug my daughter nearer, longer.
My prayer is that—no matter what—this family will still believe what sweet Olive’s mama wrote on day 5 after her passing, while they still wait: “He is endlessly worthy of our love, trust, faith, and risk.”
Yes, He is endlessly worthy. No matter what. Even if. Even when.
His resurrection life is bigger than earthly breath. It promises more.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!