When God Doesn't Intervene


{Photo Courtesy of Linh Nguyen via Flickr}

What started with a football-sized tumor, ended with back-to-back miracles, I recently told this man in a coffee shop line after my friend, Heather, had introduced us. Heather then blurted out that my book would soon be released.
My eyes widened a little. Still digesting the idea that strangers would read my honest thoughts on life and sickness and God, I pulled at the ends of my hair.
“Oh,” the man did one of those slow nods. “So, what’s the title?”
I mumbled, “When God Intervenes.”
Within seconds, his forehead pinched tight. “And what happens when God doesn’t intervene?”
My mouth opened a little, but nothing came out.
My thoughts raced trying to think of a quick version of the last decade of my life, but the noise from the surrounding tables rose higher and more people walked through the front door with loud laughter and all I could think was, that was kind of the point of the book. I prayed for intervention, a miraculous healing from an eight-inch mass embedded in my lungs, yet none came. I prayed for God to scoop out the cancer so my growing baby wouldn’t be harmed from the chemo, yet no assistance came. I prayed to live a normal, healthy lifestyle, but in the end I fought nine life-threatening illnesses, four of which were near-death experiences.
But none of this came out.
I wanted to confess that many times I screamed at God, “Why are you doing this? Ten years of battling sickness is killing me!”
My eyes dropped to the ground, because I feared telling this man that I really believed that was the point. God had plans for me, but I needed to get out of the way. I needed parts of me to die; specifically the pushy, control-freakish parts that thrived on stability and power and happiness.
My happiness.
What I didn’t know at the time was that had God healed me during my first bout with cancer, I would have argued my way out of marriage because my 24-year-old husband wasn’t meeting my needs.
Had I not faced the disease again, we wouldn’t have softened our bull-headed hearts to realize maybe we didn’t have as much time left to tinker around with life as we believed.376060_10150477618013501_529341828_n
And had God healed my womb after the toxic drugs shut down my baby-making abilities, our newly reconciled marriage would never have considered adoption.
That chain of disharmony from disease and uncertainty I wanted broken free from was not really a chain at all. It was a sifting. A breaking down of my persistence to reign my life. My ideal that God was good, but my ways were better, needed a violent shake.
Had he healed my womb, we never would have started the adoption process of sweet baby from China.
Had I not miscarried during that long waiting period to adopt, I never would have discovered my clotting disorders—the potential reason for losing the baby. An increased risk to clotting is an important factor to know when traveling twenty-three hours on a plane to China. Without the aid of a blood thinner, my chances of developing a pulmonary embolism rose with long periods of limited mobility and high altitudes.
No. Sometimes God doesn’t intervene. And sometimes I didn’t understand the why, but looking back the dots connected oddly enough to form a new picture with a fresh perspective. There is a greater glory. He sees the big picture. He sees the tiny gift He’s embedded in me that He desires to use once I’m fully dependent on Him.
The list of non-interventions continued until something greater than cancer threatened to take my life.  Then God intervened right at the moment when an audience of physicians gave a grim prognosis, and hundreds prayed, and the notes lining my doctor’s charts shifted from around the clock surveillance of my life, to documented records that something mysteriously had revived my broken body.
I expected the trial-free life, I liked to remind God when I battled my first sickness. I was a good person, living a decent life. I can only imagine him looking on and saying, “Ah, precious child. I have something far greater in store for you, but earthly stretching is required. You’ll thank me for all eternity, because my plans will awaken the souls of those looking on. And isn’t that more important than momentary comforts?”
I watched the line move forward in the crowded coffee shop. I never shared my thoughts with that man. Paralyzed by the fear that he’d scorn my words of hope, it was obvious God had not intervened for him—yet.
I am not perfect.
I will let people down.
It’s bound to happen.
But this life isn’t about me and my failures, it’s about a heavenly Father who desires for me to stop asking the “Why?” behind my mess, and start considering the “What?”
“What do you want to do with this heap of pain I’ve been through?” Comfort those with the comfort I’ve received? Mourn with them, serve them, love on them?
I believe that’s would Jesus would do.
I pray the next time I bump into to someone who asks, “So, what happens when God doesn’t intervene?” I’ll have a better answer than standing there with my mouth agape. Maybe next time I’ll buy him a cup of coffee and explain the whole thing.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll offer to hear his story, because sometimes the intervention comes in the listening and the praying and the weeping (1 Corinthians 1:4).
1 Corinthians 1:4
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You never cease to amaze and uplift me!

  2. Tracy Atwood says:

    Oh Dabney, this is exactly what I needed today. Thank you so much for sharing that sweet heart of yours.
    Beautiful, wonderful post.

  3. Tracy Atwood says:

    I had to read it again. Standing in a mess if my own today and now a puddle of tears. Cleansing tears.
    Meet you at the coffee shop.

  4. Christina says:

    Facing a biopsy on Tuesday and this gave me what I needed to let go and leave it at His feet. Thankful for your truths, perfect timing.

    • Lord, I lift Christina unto You. I pray Your peace and comfort before, during and after the procedure. I pray for results that bring You glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bless you @poetrycottage for your hope filled words. I have been praying for peace. I happen to read this “accidentally” this morning. God is good!

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      Praying for you, sweet Christina! Please keep us posted. Lifting you up to our almighty God.

      • Christina says:

        I have been given a clean bill of health! God is good! Whether with cancer or not. Whether in perfect health or nearing heavens gates. He is good. Thank you Dabney for helping me understand this truth before my biopsy results. I understand what it is to put my life in the potter’s hands, where it belongs, for the first time in my life. Thank you for sharing your precious message. Bless you

  5. Dabney, once again I thank you for your honesty and the humble post. Your life is a beautiful testimony to the tapestry that God’s love has interwoven throughout your life. I’ve sent a ‘friend’ request on f/b just incase you wondered who it is 🙂 … Liana.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I know what happens when God doesn’t intervene. You continue on to grieve for the rest of your life. But your hope lies in eternity when once again you’ll see those you loved so very much again. God has blessed us greatly but the losses can’t just be swept away as if they never happened.. It will be like leaving the ICU of this life and to walk out of ICU with those we loved once again. Our prayers arent always answerd yes here in this life.

    • Dear Anonymous … I don’t know if you are the same Anonymous that left that beautiful reply to my comment above, if you are I have been blessed already by reading this ever so comforting comment. It wraps my emotions and tears for losses and binds it with the sweet fragrance of heaven’s healing bouquet. If you are someone else, I thank you greatly also and pray many will be touched greatly by this ‘cyber hug’.

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      No, you’re right…our prayers aren’t always answered the way we want them to be. My fleshly grief does grip my heart when this happens. You gave a good analogy above. Thank you for your comment. Praying for you, sweet friend, that God will shower you with an abundance of blessings beyond what you could imagine.

  7. Excellent post Dabney!
    I believe that if we’re looking to and trusting in God, He always intervenes. It might not be the intervention we’re looking for or the answer we want, but He’s promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.
    People might look at me, my body withering away from 18 years with ALS, and think that God hasn’t intervened on my behalf. They would be wrong. He has in every way sustained us – 18 years of His intervening on our behalf.

    • dabneyhedegard says:

      I love this, Bill! What amazing insight you always bring when you comment. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, YOUR blog inspires me with each post! What a walking testimony you are. So glad God allowed our paths to cross. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! God bless.

  8. When he doesn’t intervene … well, he is either teaching us something, as he did for you, or he has a better plan we don’t understand, and maybe we don’t even like. God knows more than we do. How hard that is to accept. I have to relearn that one over and over.

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