He is so much closer than you think

May 2, 2007 | 3 comments

Thanks to Melanie for linking to one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long time. It’s by a woman named Heather, who is a 32-year-old mother of three. Her little girl Emma is autistic and has mitochondrial myopathy, has already had a heart transplant, and will not live for much longer (that story here). Heather was recently diagnosed with a large brain tumor that is intertwined with her brain tissue. Tomorrow she goes in for surgery, which may leave her disabled, or worse. She writes of this turn of events:

My prayer for every single person reading this is that you find the peace that floods over me. That you realize that there is a God who loves you so very much, and wants so badly to have a personal relationship with you. I pray that my story touches you and draws you closer to him in ways that you never thought possible. I pray that you hold your children a little tighter, and love your husband a little deeper. I pray that you hold your parents closer and realize that in the end, everything else is meaningless. Christ’s love for you is so immense and so encompassing. I have been asked so many times how I can believe in a God who brought this into my life — who threatens to take my children’s mother away and my husband’s wife away.

…My tumor is not God’s punishment. My daughter’s terminal illness and autism and failing heart are not God’s punishment. My life is a living testimony of his grace and love. The 5 years that I have spent with this amazing child, who every doctor told me would be dead by now, is a testimony of His grace and love. Finding this tumor from an inner ear infection is a testimony of His grace and love. Being so young, and without any symptoms from such a large tumor is a testimony of His grace and love. Having 32 years of life is a testimony of His grace and love.

…Bad things are going to happen. It’s inevitable. Facing them with hope and power makes the journey so much more possible.

The great St. Francis often told his followers to “preach the Gospels always — using words if you must”. I can’t think of a better example of this than Heather and her life. Her strength and tranquility under some of the worst pressures that life has to offer is worth a stack of erudite apologetics books.

And to the many readers who have written to ask how on earth she has remained so positive and peaceful throughout the unimaginable trials she and her family have faced, she ends by saying that she hopes that her story will inspire others to investigate Christianity a bit more, so that they might understand for themselves. “Seek Him, ” she writes. “He is so much closer than you think.” Amen.


  1. Amber

    That is beautiful, thanks for posting that excerpt. I’ve been reading about Heather on several of the blogs I read and her story has really touched me. I’ll be praying for her tomorrow, like many other people out there in the blog world.

  2. SteveG

    What a beautiful soul. I have been and will be praying for her, that her hope to hold her children in her arms again will come to be…whether in this life, or in the one to come.

    Just yesterday I saw something that reinforces Heather’s message so well, and I wanted to share it. I stumbled on this video of a family whose baby was born with Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome). If you watch, have tissues on hand as it is deeply touching and beautiful.

    After watching the video, I stumbled on this post by Matt (the dad) from March 7th. It’s amazing and has radically changed the question of suffering for me.

    Here, let me shut up for once and have him say it…

    Why is there so much bad? So much heartache?
    This question comes naturally enough. However, I have recently been pouring over pictures and video of Elliot (more than usual); I remembered a ritual in which Ginny and I would often participate. As was not unusual, we would just stare at Eliot, attempting to take him in, attempting to savor his presence, acknowledging the urgency of such an exercise. Now, this was all unspoken between us, but we both knew what we were doing.

    At a point in this exchange, one of us would often say something to the effect of:
    “Look at him. He doesn’t know he’s sick. Look at how beautiful he is.
    Look at all that is right.”

    It was true. There was so much right about him.

    One chromosome somewhere along the way had gone wrong. That eighteenth chromosome had placed information in each cell of his tiny body that was error. The list of problems he was born with was horrifying. The medical description was, “not compatible with life”. Our description was beautiful.

    It is just such a revelation that makes me think we have the question upside down. I am left to ask:
    Why is there so much good?
    It is only my familiar experience of joy that allows me to question when pain comes. Otherwise, pain would be all I have ever known and could never surprise.

    And of course he’s right. We are asking the wrong damned question! In a sinful, fallen, broken world such as this, we should be constantly amazed that there is indeed still so much good. Viewing the world that way makes all the difference as both Heather and Matt testify by their very lives.

    Thank God for such people as they.

  3. Marc

    One thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that God could have snuffed out everything after the Fall and He would have been completely justified and still as good as He is.

    Instead, He played by His own rules and came down here to save us.

    Steve is right…the question truly is “Why is there so much good and why does He love us so much despite what we do?”

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