Becky (not her real name) showed up faithfully for church every single Sunday. Usually with alcohol on her breath.
She was kind. She was bubbly. She was pretty and sweet. With grown children, she and her husband managed to settle into life in an empty nest.
Sunday School was a passion. She loved her Sunday School class and frequently brought her home baked yummies to share on any given Sunday morning. She asked them to pray for her, and she prayed with fire. She had an unwavering faith on most days.
But dark days were frequent and alcohol, her safety. It had been her friend… for over twenty-five years.
Becky sought help. And she sought it often through AA and other faith based groups. Oh sure, she quit drinking. Dozens upon dozens of times she turned her addiction over to God and cried out for deliverance and for a few days, it would seem like He answered her prayer.
At her worst, her brain chemistry would betray her and she’d threaten to end it all. How many threats did her husband endure? Was it twenty? Maybe thirty. I can’t remember exactly, only that after so many times, he stopped dropping everything to rush to her aid. His soul was drained.
But he kept praying, though. Generously. He loved her deeply and I swear, if it had been in his power to trade places with her, he would have. Just to give her some relief and peace from that which threatened to drown her. He was tired, broken in many ways, but faithful although it was clear his hope was dwindling.
The toll on the marriage is simply indescribable. Sweethearts since high school, they’d routinely enjoyed their drinking times together. When they found Jesus, Becky’s husband quit drinking but Becky? Well, Becky was already facing the struggles of addiction by then. She found solace at our church, and she found hope in the God of miracles that we insisted existed.
Altar calls never went unanswered. Becky was usually the first to kneel before God. She repented, and repented again, and then again in the hopes that God would see fit to rescue her.
She did everything right and she did everything wrong, that Becky. She certainly tried with everything she had.
The ‘prayer for the sick’ didn’t heal Becky. Nor did anointing with oil or casting out the demon. None of our spiritual, supernatural solutions made a difference once that noose was tied.
Her son found her in the basement. Dark and alone… and hanging.
Three days later, my husband preached her funeral. I sat in a darkness of my own as he spoke, wondering… What was her last prayer? Did she cry out for God to save her? Why was she not healed?
Does. God. Heal?
Becky’s son couldn’t bear to attend the funeral. Her long journey was over. His sojourn would continue… without her. But not without her pain.
This wasn’t the first time while we served in ministry that it had appeared to me that God didn’t show up for one of His children. Nor was it the last. But it was one of the worst.