Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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The God of Kent Brantly

Photo Credit: dorena-wm via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dorena-wm via Compfight cc

We met him a little over a year ago. My husband was taking an international medicine course at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth, and I was along for the ride.

I remember standing in the kitchen of a host doctor, as our families met and we told each other of our dreams.

Us, coming to work in Asia.
Them, going to work in Africa.

Our hearts connected over similar passion areas and skills. There was a glow on all of our faces as we spilled out our hopes of the way God would move in these places.

I’ve struggled to find that glow this week.

We were at a conference in Cambodia when Gavin told me the news. As we continued to gather more information about the Ebola virus, the possible treatments, and the hopelessness of the whole healthcare crisis in West Africa, we bit our bottom lips and fought back tears as our fellow Christians gathered to sing songs of praise.

Partly because this situation has hit so close to home for us.

But mostly because we are terrified of this situation robbing part of our faith in God.

My stomach has been sick. My conversations have been distracted. My everyday tasks have seemed trivial.

I’m searching for updates each morning, each time swallowing the reality that this could have been us.

I’m aching for these almost strangers because I can visualize the living conditions and complications and separation anxiety all too well.

I am a powerless, single individual sitting in the heart of Southeast Asia. I can do nothing to influence the outcome of this dreadful situation.

But I can pray.

And at the same time I’m scared to death to pray.

I haven’t always believed much in prayer. I’ve treated it as a discipline. A checkmark on my list of Christian duties.

I’m religiously motivated to live abroad. Prayer should be the same as breathing to me.

But it hasn’t been, because I’ve spent more time making excuses for why our modern God doesn’t show up than I have praying for Him to actually show up.

I’ve explained why He doesn’t work in miracles today and why He doesn’t heal anymore and why He only speaks to us through His Word.

Recently, though, I’ve been convicted that prayer is so much more than a mode of obedience.

Prayer is our only way to cry out our wishes, in faith, and wait for God to be glorified.

The people Jesus healed in the New Testament? He did it because they asked him to.
And what moved him to perform such miracles? The faith of those he served.

Jesus moved when people asked. And they asked when they believed he could move.

I’ve been reading stories of those ministering in Muslim areas of Northern Africa, and I am humbled by the great faith of these men. I’m even more amazed by their testimonies of God’s works.

Modern-day miracles.

People healed. Bodies raised from the dead. Families protected from intense persecutions.

Entire communities being redeemed from these signs and wonders.

I’ve been focusing on verses like: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. {John 14: 13-14, emphasis added}

I’ve been made aware of my lack of faith. Of my weak belief in God’s ability and my pitiful outpouring of prayer.

But the testimonies from my fellow believers along with a scripture study through prayer passages brought me to my knees in the last few months. I was becoming so confident in the God that I serve and His power to move mountains for the people who call on His name today.

That’s when my husband told me the news about Kent. And that’s when it felt like my spiritual breath was knocked out of me again.

I’m confessing that watching and waiting and praying through this Ebola outbreak has more than rocked my boat.

It’s made me aware of my humanity. Of the unpredictable lives we lead and the lack of control we have over our every heartbeat.

I’m afraid to pray because I don’t want to lose my new-found faith in prayer. I don’t want to bathe this battle in empty words. I don’t want to look like an idiot when prayer doesn’t *work.*

What if Kent isn’t healed?
What if his family suffers this loss?
What if the Ebola virus continues to spread?

But all of the fears that just flowed onto this space are stemming from fleshly desires. Nothing about them points to God and considers His role as deity.

And focusing on myself is always how the enemy distracts me from bringing honor to the One who is Able.

Oh, God, I believe…help my disbelief.

I have no connections or resources or treatments to help in this epidemic.

I’ve just got to gather up my dirty rags and throw them at the feet of Jesus.

So I am praying for God to show out again. He’s got a stage. He’s got an audience. And I am BEGGING that the world will watch as He receives all the glory He deserves.

I must set aside my doubts and continue to petition the Father for the sake of those in need.

We must pray with belief. We must pray with expectation. But we must pray that God is ultimately glorified.

We must pray for the Worthy One to be praised, as we plead that this comes through the healing of Kent, Nancy, and all of the precious persons in West Africa fighting for their lives.

Our God is ABLE, so much more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Our prayers are not futile, and our requests are not unheard. May we have faith that He will turn mourning to dancing.

If we believe in the same God who…

Threw bread from heaven to feed His hungry people,
Made the walls of a fortified city crash down,
Impregnated a virgin,
Raised people from the dead,
Healed the lame and the blind,

…then we must take heart that God has not changed.

I believe in the God of Kent Brantly.

The God of my life. The God of our nations. The God of our fathers and of every ounce of creation.

I believe in the God that stirs in our hearts and leads us to dark places to shine His light.

I believe in the God who works through the enemy’s footholds of disease to now give the African victims a voice.

I believe in the God whose power intercedes when our souls run weary.

The God who convicts. The God who forgives. The God who desires every person to be wrapped up in His marvelous grace.

I believe in the God who will use all this worldly pain for good. Because only He is good.

May we be a united front—regardless of the way the next week unfolds—to praise the God who wants desperately to be known through this situation.

He wants to give us what we desire. He will give us what He knows we need.

And in the end, all we need is Him.

Not our comforts, our health, our resources or our money.

No amount of earthly pleasures can justify us before the face of the One who crafted our actual being into existence.

His salvation is the only thing that will allow us to stand before His throne.

And I, for one, want to stand beside men like Kent when I meet God face to face.


I hesitate making this post public. I don’t claim a close relationship with the families involved with this crisis, and I pray the people of the internet will continue to outpour the utmost respect to the family and close friends of the Brantlys, Writebols, and West African victims. These words are the overflow of my heart this week as I wrestle with an all-loving God in a world where the Enemy seeks to devour.



AmberAugust 2, 2014 - 2:43 pm

I am convinced prayer is a very misunderstood subject in the religious world. We often too many times think of it as our link to the almighty genie instead of its intended purpose. Unfortunately I am all too guilty of thinking this way at times. I don’t have to tell you the many dangers of this.

Good thoughts. I cant begin to imagine the fear this pours out onto you and your family.

Many prayers from hear for the Ebola victims, care givers, and all workers in the field.