03.23.22 – Benchmarks

Journal entry by Vicki Bunke 

Four years ago today, I was essentially living in the hospital with Grace. I don’t recall exactly what happened that day. However, today I miss Grace.  On Friday, it will be exactly four years since Grace died. I will miss her then too.

You see, we miss Grace every single day. For our family, benchmarks are nothing more than that, just benchmarks. In fact, we probably spend more time wondering how we are supposed to feel than actually feeling anything on those benchmark days.

This past weekend, Caroline spoke with me about this year’s approaching benchmark. She said that people often ask her things like, “So, how was Christmas?” Caroline said she wants to reply, “Well, Christmas was fine. But, Thursday? Thursday really sucked.” Her point is that grief comes whenever it wants. It doesn’t come neatly packaged and prepared on certain days. I find that to be incredibly true. I almost would like to take it a step further and say, “Yeah, Christmas was fine. But Monday night at 5:30 while running on the treadmill and that song came on? That really sucked.”  Grief is that specific.

Brian and I are fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead the elementary/middle school students at Embrace Church during this Lenten Season. Each week, the students have an opportunity to anonymously write down questions, and then we review them as a group the next week. This week’s question was, “Why doesn’t prayer always work?”

Such a profound question that I tried my best to answer. I shared with them that I wondered the same thing as a child. As a child, I prayed and still failed that math test. I prayed and still, our softball team lost the game. I also shared with them that I have wondered about this question as an adult. As an adult and specifically as a mother, my life worries increased, as did my disappointments in prayer.

I told them that when prayer doesn’t seem to “work” and God’s answer is “no,” we need to remember that His wisdom is far greater than our own. He sees what we do not see. He knows what we do not know. He has a heavenly view of all of life’s contingencies. I told them that I get it – at the moment, God’s “no” might seem cold and uncaring; yet in reality, it’s really an extension of His loving hand. We just have to be willing to trust Him.

With Easter approaching, I am reminded of another benchmark – the traditional airing of “The Ten Commandments” on the Saturday before Easter.  It made me think about how incredible it was that God parted the Red Sea. God chose to answer the Israelites’ prayers and save them from Pharaoh while escorting them into the Holy Land. Yet, He did not save Grace from cancer. I certainly had a clear understanding of that when I spoke at Grace’s funeral. And fortunately, God has further refined that for our family as we continue to seek Him through our grief and acceptance of unanswered prayers on benchmark days and all of the other days in between.

Four years ago this coming Friday, Grace died. Four years ago today, she didn’t. Either way, we miss her. And either way, we remain faithful and thankful for answered and unanswered prayers.

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” (F.B. Meyer)

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