Yesterday a precious family laid a son, husband, father, nephew, and cousin to rest. There are no words that can possibly ease their ache.
Brandon Hayslip’s story is unique and people from all over the world have watched and have prayed for him. We have pleaded for God to heal Brandon for the sake of his wife and his new daughter. We expected God to say, “Yes,” but he said, “No.”
The Hayslip’s are not a family that is easily shaken when it comes to faith. They and their extended family members have experienced far more suffering than any family I have ever known. Brandon’s cousin, Tiffany, passed away from cancer when she was just 13-years old. Brandon’s own mother suffered from cancer and his aunt, a dear friend of mine, has had it three times. His grandmother experienced multiple types of cancers and finally passed away from it a couple of years ago.
In spite of the suffering they have experienced (what is listed above is only part of their story), they have stayed faithful to their God. Like anyone, they have had and still have questions and they agonize over “why?” But they have stayed faithful.
Last night as I was holding my own baby girl—born just a week and a half after Brandon and Christina’s—I began thinking about Christina and the loneliness she must be experiencing. I began feeling an ache that I know cannot even begin to compare with hers. A song was playing on my computer called, “Faith.” Some of the lines were, “Faith to see beyond what I can’t see, faith to know that you can do great things. I will trust you, Lord, I’ll always believe. As I hold on to my faith, Jesus you are holding on to me.” I’ll be honest, the song didn’t encourage me, it actually made me cry harder. I couldn’t help thinking, “But they DID have faith . . . and you said, ‘No.'” That’s when it hit me: faith isn’t the issue here.
My faith has not been shaken by the “no” in this situation. I have always known that walking with God does not make someone immune to suffering. I have experienced enough in my life to know that God says “no” all of the time. But there is something that is arguably just as precious as my faith that has been challenged . . . my hope. I have looked at my daughter so many times since this happened and have thought, What if she suffers, too? What if she gets sick? What if you say, “no” again? What is the point of praying for protection or healing or anything else?
As I pondered these things it was like the Lord whispered to me, “Don’t be afraid to hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It doesn’t seem like God has been faithful to this promise . . . but he has been. He knew the plan he had for Brandon—and he fulfilled it. Brandon is thriving. Likewise, the plan God has for Christina and for Aria continues. They will be OK because God is with them.
The truth is, the plan for everyone is the same, because the plan is Christ. HE is our future and our hope, whether we remain on earth or go ahead of those we love to the place he has prepared for us.
My prayer for Christina and the rest of the Hayslip family is that they won’t be afraid to hope. I pray that their confidence in the goodness and mercy of God will remain strong. I pray that, in spite of how black things seem now, they will cling to the promise that there are good things ahead—beautiful things. And although Brandon will not be present in body to experience them, he will be in spirit. I believe that because there is a passage in Hebrews that says we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Brandon is in that cloud, cheering everyone on.
Many years ago, I wrote a song called, Face to Face about Tiffany, Brandon’s cousin. Tiffany’s brother Matthew had written some words, “Now that you’re in heaven, tell me what you see. I see Jesus, I see Jesus, I see Jesus, everywhere.” I’ll never forget the moments I spent at the piano, thinking about those words, crying as more words began to flow and I began to sing. The song came so easily and I felt God’s presence . . . it was quite an experience.
I have recently re-recorded the song and want to share the new mix with you all today.
There is a line that says, “So remember in your darkest hour, when things just don’t seem fair. Don’t lose sight of what he promised you, he’s with you, right by your side.” I have a feeling this is what Brandon’s spirit is pleading for his family today . . .