I was reminded yet again that I could be real with God, I told my fellow pastors. I learned that I didn’t have to offer some kind of churchy, holy-sounding prayer in order to be heard in heaven. “You might as well tell God what you think,” I said. “He already knows it anyway. — Todd Burpo, Heaven Is for Real
Everywhere Sonja and I go, people want to tell us about someone they’ve lost: a parent, a spouse… a child.
We’re very aware that while God answered our prayer and spared Colton’s life, others didn’t get that same answer.
We understand. After all, we lost a child too — our unborn daughter when Sonja miscarried. Why did we lose one child and not the other? I don’t know. I don’t think I will ever know. But I can say this: because we’ve been down both roads, losing a child and having a child saved, we now have two journeys to share.
I have to admit, though, that I still haven’t learned enough to be any kind of expert when it comes to handling loss. I’m definitely not an experienced tour guide when it comes to grief. I struggle with it just like everyone else.
As people ask us why God answered our prayer to save Colton but he didn’t save their child, we feel a sense of pressure, or awkwardness, or responsibility. We don’t know the answer. Yet we want to give back to these people who’ve come to share their hearts with us. We don’t want to just shrug and say, “Beats me!”
So we do what we can. Instinctively, we pray with them. Sometimes we cry with them.
As we’ve gone through this scene again and again, we’ve been amazed to have these people tell us thank you.
“Thank you?” we asked at first. It was amazing to us that, even as we continue to feel inadequate, people reassure us that we still helped them.
They thank us for having the courage to share our story despite all the critics who doubt it — and even ridicule us.
It’s interesting to me that usually one of the first things these folks add after they say thank you is,
“I’m glad you were honest and wrote that you questioned God. We did too. We had all those same emotions you did, and we’re still trying to deal with them.”
Have you ever questioned God as you’ve gone through a difficult time?
On the other hand, has God ever done anything for you? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. But sometimes finding the courage to share your personal story might be tough. Maybe you feel like you need to have all the answers and you don’t. Maybe you feel like you’re not spiritual enough or you haven’t been a Christian long enough. Maybe after you walked through your ordeal, all you can say is that God got you through it — you don’t have a special message.
Let me assure you that if you’re honest about your struggles and you’re transparent about the events, there’s someone in your life who needs to hear from you.
That someone might be closer than you think — someone who may be dealing with the same problem you’ve been through or are going through even as you read these words. Most people we’ve helped have thanked us not because we’re experts and not because we’re great examples (we’re not). They thank us for being honest about both the good and the bad.
When people are facing a trial, they find strength and support from others who have been through the same situations.
The best counselors are those who understand what you’re going through, not those who have all the answers. You don’t have to be an expert to help someone else. You just have to be real. Consider the simple way this formerly blind man told others what Jesus had done for him:
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” — John 9:8–11
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Watch the Trailer for Heaven is for Real!
Coming to theaters nationwide this Easter 2014 from Sony and based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book, Heaven is for Real brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. The movie stars Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly as Todd and Sonja Burpo, while newcomer Connor Corum plays their son Colton.
What is your story of “imperfect” faith? Even if you just barely made it through by the grace of God alone, you did make it through and you have a story to share with someone who could be helped and encouraged by it! Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear your story and how you are sharing it with others! ~ Devotionals Daily