The phone call came as I drove through town, shuffling kids to various appointments and running errands. I struggled to focus as the words, punctuated by the quiet sobs and broken sentences of my mother-in-law, assaulted my ears and broke my heart.
It was a moment that made me long for Heaven.
How do I make sense of the news that one of the most loving, Christian men I have ever known lies in a hospital bed unable to move? That his body is broken and he is in need of healing that can only come from God? That his wife and girls who absolutely adore him now face weeks and months without his smile at the dinner table? Why did God allow this? To him, of all people?
Then the days unfold. Updates trickle in, texts from my sweet friend giving me the privilege of knowing how to pray for her, the realization that in the midst of the unspeakable tragedy God is working, unshakable. I remember the days before Jay had Ashley, how he was so impressed with Sam’s Lasagna and my homemade stuffing that he ate it cold, right out of the fridge…announcing that I had “outdone myself.” The days before he was a daddy and he would come over, revving up my toddlers and ensuring bedtime would be far, far away and my kids loving every minute of their time with “Uncle Jay.” How he stood for Jesus in every operating room, refusing to cave and lower his standards and getting the “preacher boy” award at the end of Residency. Jay loves Jesus unashamedly, showers his family with that love, and is now being given a new voice, a new platform, and new way to shine the light of Christ in this dark and desperate world.
Yes, we serve and unshakable God. Because of this, the suffering my friends endure begins to make sense. When a hospital room becomes a mission field, when the name of Jesus is lifted and spoken and prayer warriors are mobilized from all over the country and husbands are challenged to love better and daddies are moved to be more intentional because this man, from his hospital bed and in constant pain, continues to love well it makes sense. That he can be faithful and allow God to use him in this, the darkest season of life is why he has been chosen to suffer. The truck did not see Jay in the fog, but God did and my goodness, how He protected his life. His body is broken, yes, but the Holy Spirit in him is alive and well and fully at work.
It has been a week today. Today I cannot seem to stop the flow of tears as I wish with all of my heart I lived close enough to be hands and feet for Ashley, and the rest of Jay’s family. But God has me here, on my knees, begging for healing and praising Him for what He has done so far this week. And as I pray and trust I know that I am one of hundreds if not thousands who are doing the same. God is an incredible mobilizer of His army and we are rising up together, carefully lowering our friend through the roof and placing him at the feet of Jesus, his savior and healer.
If you will join us in praying for Jay, go to caringbridge.org/visit/jayrapley.
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13