For A Thousand Generations

Hands raised in prayer

In 2018, I walked away from my faith.

I grew up in a devoutly Christian home. But after a breakup in 2017, where I felt betrayed by both God and the church, I became an atheist. Maybe not exactly an atheist. I knew there was a God — and I also knew that I hated Him.

I remember telling Him I was done with Him. “At least with Satan I know he is evil; you play a charade where you pretend to be good.”

Trust me, if the unforgivable sin was something I could say in a heated moment, I would have been damned to hell long ago.

But God never let go of me. When I pushed, He pulled. When I ran, He chased me. I carried what felt like an oppressive freedom, an oxymoron — that I didn’t want this God at all, but He wouldn’t stop wanting me.

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

That same year, I gave in and begrudgingly admitted that God is God, He is good, and I am made to know Him. But the three years that have passed since then have been filled with their own level of turmoil, difficulty, trials, and anxiety. Despite believing that God is good and faithful, I have never really felt His goodness in the midst of these trials. I’ve continued to feel tested and abandoned — and I’ve continued to ask Him, why?

Tonight, I discovered the song “The Blessing” from Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, and Elevation Worship. I was taken aback by it. While listening, I cried out to God. I asked Him why He held onto me when I hated Him, and why He captured my heart when I have watched so many of my once-passionate friends led astray by the world.

As I implored Him, wondering why He saved me, what could possibly have made me worthy in His eyes, He impressed upon my heart that the faithfulness of my mother’s prayers were like a shroud around me.

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family
And your children
And their children
And their children

James 5:16 reminds us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. I saw that first-hand, through the prayers of my mother. She fought for me every night from the moment I was conceived, on her knees, imploring the Lord to make me His. Aside from God, she is the only one who knew me before I was born — and she has been fighting for me from that very moment.

My father was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. It’s the type of cancer that doesn’t go away — and while the prognosis suggests it will go dormant for a long time, this cancer may be the thing that kills him in the end. Anyone who knows me or has read my previous writings knows how much I treasure and adore my father. It has been devastating to watch him grow sicker and weaker, and panic every time I get a phone call from home.

But tonight, while listening to The Blessing, I realized how much our family has been blessed as a result of my mother’s fervent prayers and unconditional obedience to the Lord. I have seen first-hand how His favor remains in the pain, in the cancer, in the depression, in the floods, in the fear, in the waiting, in the yes and no answers. I am a testimony to how His favor is upon us in the way He covers us with His blood, and defends us.

If but for my flesh, I would have left Him in 2018. But He would not let go. He honored the prayers of a faithful woman.

I am unworthy, but chosen. Hand picked, like a flower in spring. Blooming for a purpose, for a sacrifice, for a testimony to the Creator.

I have never seen His favor in the darkness until now. I have always found ways to be angry at Him during the struggles. But for the first time, I see Him. I see Him in the cancer, anointing the halls of MD Anderson, holding my daddy in His hands. I see Him walking alongside my mother, steeling her for the burdens of caretaking.

I feel Him gripping me, guiding me, granting me grace, anointing me, giving me purpose, reaffirming me, pushing me, equipping me — His favor remains when it is dark and I cannot find my way out of the misery the same way that it remains when I am on the mountaintops.

All I can think is how unworthy I am — of His favor. Of the prayers of a righteous woman. But my heart bursts with gratitude all the same.

His favor is upon us — even in the cancer. Even in the storms. Even in the depression. Even in the distance. Even in the difficulty. For a thousand generations.

Thanks to the prayers of a faithful woman.

“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments;” — Deuteronomy 7:9

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