When I was younger and there was something going on out of my control, I made cards. My mom’s dresser drawers had to have been overflowing with scraps and pieces of my helplessness. My construction paper creations were taped together by my eagerness to heal, and inadequacy to do so. For all the times someone was sick physically or emotionally, all the birthdays my penny-filled piggy banks couldn’t fund, all the Christmas stockings I couldn’t fill, I tried to make my words and handmade forms of love fill in the gaps.
I am about to be 22 years old, and I have found myself doing it once again.
When I was in 8th grade Matt hid behind my bedroom door during a visit he made to my sister and brother-in-law, Mandie and Ben Williams. He crouched down like a leprechaun and waited for me to walk in. I’ll never forget the fear that struck me and the anger that came over my 15 year old angsty, teenage body. This was my first ever introduction to Matt Chan. I held a grudge against him for years because in that moment he made me vulnerable, which infuriated me, because it embarrassed me. I was exposed and impotent, and Matt was the culprit.
Matt…I’m 21 years old now, but it feels like you just jumped out from behind my door, leaving me powerless and 15 and terrified.
I think I can safely say everyone being touched by this situation is feeling nothing short of absolute defenselessness and ineffectiveness. I know I for one do.
I woke up with the sun today and went to read my devotional Bible, doubtfully hoping today’s verse would give me some direction, some clarity in this. I flipped to April 17th and found the shortest devotional scripture study I have yet to see.
“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
At first I thought, “I am God. Thanks anyways.” And then I read it again. “Pray without ceasing.” And in my stubborn anger towards this whole situation I said, “I wanted direction, not reiterating.” And then I read it again. And this time I heard God saying, “You asked for direction. And I am giving it to you. Pray without ceasing.”
For the next half of my morning I felt heavy on my heart to find inspiration from this.
One thing Matt and Heatherlee have continuously taught me is that my words are enough, and they are effective, and they are heard, so I desperately wanted to give them mine. I started looking through scripture hoping God would intervene when I fell upon this passage.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
Whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
That sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,
For its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,
For it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
“I,” said the Lord.”
If you’re familiar with the verse “Pray without ceasing” you know that the rest of that passage is about rejoicing through all things, for this is God’s will. With all of this said, here is what I have learned:
Matthew Chan’s heart is broken. And because of it, ours are all breaking too. I could bet that Matt, lying in that hospital bed, has no idea how many hearts his heart has affected.
And I can’t help but find the beauty in that. God works all things for the good, but it is times like these when it becomes difficult to trust that. Though, as I scroll down my Facebook page looking at prayer requests, love letters, and donations being made, trusting that becomes a little easier.
We are all joined together in our mutual feelings of helplessness. We can talk to God about this, we can send our money, we can send Heatherlee Chan all the love our hearts can muster, but we can’t make Matt’s heart beat steady. I’m positive all of us have been racking our brains for some impossible idea to somehow get Matt back cracking jokes at our expense, making our sides ache with laughter. But all done in vain.
I have finally not only accepted this, but I rejoice in it. Because it is only in our helplessness that we see how truly powerful God is. And I am so thankful that such a good God is in power of Matt’s heart today. And we, frantic and vulnerable, terrified of the surprises life has waiting behind our doors, are not. But let me remind you, as I was reminded today. We are not inadequate in this matter of a heart. We have been given direction, we have been given guidelines, we have been given the opportunity to help.
We pray without ceasing.
Above all else, friends, I pray for peace. God already knows the outcome of this, He has already mapped this out in His plans. Matt Chan, Heatherlee Chan, me, and you were never not going to be here, joined together in this great moment of fear and undying hope. So I pray that first and foremost we remember that God is where two or more are gathered.
I pray that we all remember God is here.