Barbara Holloway left the earth early Wednesday morning. Since then I waited to post this in case I got some amazing revelation that improved the tone of the post, but that just hasn’t happened. She was a very strong and devoted believer and we know she is in her rightful place, at the “beginning” of eternity with the Lord.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145A" data-link="(A)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; text-align: start; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> of those who love him, who have been called<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-28145B" data-link="(B)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; text-align: start; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> according to his purpose.”
There are no more tears or regrets in heaven. There is no more sin. Nothing to dread. No hurt feelings, pain, or sorrow. She got to go where we all should be. Where we all would have been if it weren’t for the sin that Eve (first) committed in the garden. Barbara left this nomadic life where she was a stranger and didn’t fully belong for the only place that isn’t true. She made it to the end of the long race, where the Lord greeted her with His passionate joy and love.
We should all rejoice that Barbara is in heaven. Instead of coveting our neighbor’s car/job/house/husband/well-mannered children/toned body/savings account/friends (pick whatever best applies), we should covet her new life. She is home and we are not.
But there is one problem: She didn’t want to go.
On the surface, and maybe a few layers beneath that, it feels like the ultimate betrayal by the Father. He promises, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7). I assure you without any hesitation or confusion, Barbara asked to be healed and to stay on earth. She asked time after time. I’m told thousands were praying for her. She wholeheartedly believed He would heal her, until the very last agonizing breath, she believed He would answer that prayer.
We can rejoice that she really was healed, but let’s not pretend that was the answer she was looking for. She asked to be healed on earth and He chose not to do that. He could have done it but He knew better. He alone knows what is best for you, best for me, best for Barbara. He knows what God-glorifying things will happen on earth because her time on earth ended. He knows what other pain or problems she avoided by moving to heaven. He created her, you, me, and everything on the earth. He numbers and ordains all of our days, and He makes no mistakes.
Colossians 1:15-17, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
We might want to know why He answers some prayers and not others, but we might never know. We just have to trust. That’s what faith is all about, the confidence in what we hope for, the assurance of what we cannot see (Heb 11:1). We don’t know the reasons, but we are never left alone with the answers. Jesus understands our feelings. When He saw Mary mourning over the loss of her brother, “He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). The Jews even recognized it and said, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:36). Jesus had already planned to raise Lazarus, so we don’t know if the sadness had anything to do with why He raised Lazarus from the dead, but regardless the words convey His true feelings. Jesus didn’t sin, so He wasn’t wrong in feeling enough sorrow for some combination of Mary’s loss, the earthly loss of Lazarus, and maybe for the confusion and sadness produced by His not preventing the death, that He wept.
Barbara was in horrendous physical anguish at the end of her life. It was torture. But she never lost the hope of the living. She trusted fully in her Savior, even though He seemed to turn His back on her. The big picture is that He helped her to end up where she should be, where it is perfect and beautiful, pain-free and carefree, instead of where she thought she should be. Praise to the Lord Almighty who knows so much better than we do! Please pray for her family’s sadness to turn to joy as they see the ways He turns Barbara’s legacy into more fruit on earth.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.