2 Corinthians 5:1. “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

One thing God has very clearly taught me these last six months is that He hears every prayer. He takes them seriously, never lightly. He’s reminded me that my prayers are powerful, even when I may view them as just another prayer. Sometimes I forget that He hears each one. Throughout these last six months, He has reminded me that our earthly bodies are so temporary. He’s reminded me that the cross is greater than my circumstances. 

Within two short weeks into school, I was taken out of my classroom and into the hospital for a kidney stone. Not just one, but nine on my left kidney. No wonder I had felt uncomfortable for quite a while now. Surgery was scheduled immediately, and although I was thankful I had been able to leave my classroom in time, I was discouraged. I went through this surgery five years ago for 16 kidney stones. I had asked God to please take them away forever. Faithfully, God did answer that prayer, just not in the way I expected. He said no.

When I awoke from surgery, the first thing I asked the doctor was if he had taken all of them out. I remember wanting to make sure this doctor had done everything possible to get rid of all stones. He said, “On that kidney, yes. You have more on the other side that we’ll remove in a few weeks.” My heart sank. Was he kidding? That’s exactly what I asked in my post-anesthetic, drugged up, state of mind. I remember saying the words, “Why, God?” and then drifting into a recovery sleep.

The first two weeks back at school were the most painful I had experienced, however God had put my mind at ease. He kept reminding me, “Christine, I know this hurts, but the cross really hurt me. It will be ok.” My mind shifted very quickly to the cross instead of my own circumstance. Nine kidney stones were cleared from my body, and for that I was thankful. God reminded me every moment those two weeks that He was my strength. He reminded me of how temporary our bodies are and reminded me of the perfection that will be in Heaven after we leave these bodies.

Almost as quickly as the pain on my left kidney had subsided, it was time for the next surgery. I asked God for just a little less pain after this surgery than the first. When I awoke, my first thought was not about my body. It was, “I wish Jesus could have had painkillers while He was at the cross.” That goofy, but real thought that went through my head prompted me to thank Him for allowing me to have a surgery and for the doctor who removed the stones. Of course after awhile my mind was on the cheddar broccoli soup I craved, but I was joyful. What Jesus did at the cross was way more than my own circumstance.

I was able to go back to school three days after my surgery. I remember walking down the hallways, into my classroom, and wondering, “Where’s the pain?” I figured it was just a good hour and that the pain meds hadn’t quite worn off yet. Then I remembered I hadn’t even taken any pain medication the day before. Instantly I was reminded of my prayer before surgery—to have just a bit less pain after this one. God had not only answered, but given me more than I had asked! God continued to heal my body over the next couple of weeks and draw me closer to Him. Every day, He reminded me this: Cross over Circumstance. I was thankful.

Exactly two weeks later, it was a Tuesday night at 11:34 p.m. Dad was calling my cell phone and I had just about drifted to sleep. “Stephen’s been in a motorcycle accident. He was rushed to the trauma unitat UNMC. His back is broken and we don’t know if he is going to make it.” Those were the most terrifying words I’ve ever heard from my father. I felt a pain and tearing of my heart that I had never felt. I remember hanging up the phone and screaming to my husband that this could not be happening. Not my brother. I remember being angry at God. As Zach held me, he prayed for Stephen. I have never felt more afraid in my life, or so anxious to get to the hospital.

My entire family was in the waiting room. I’ve never seen my mom so frightened. The looks in her and Dad’s eyes are ones I never want to see again. We sat in a circle and prayed for Stephen. I remember walking down the hallway to see Stephen. I held my breath and tried to keep back the tears. When I saw him, my heart broke more. I don’t want to describe what I saw, but I remember seeing his face and being thankful that he was alive. I remember holding his hand and him mumbling, “I’ll be fine but if I’m not it’s ok, I love you.” To be honest, I had never seen someone look like this. His body was a mess. As I walked back down the hallway, God pulled at my mind and heart. “If I take him, he’ll be with me.” It startled me. Before I could respond back, I remembered the cross. Stephen’s body in this state was way better than Jesus’s would have been at the cross. I felt helpless. Would God actually take my little brother? He could.

Stephen’s surgery early the next morning took hours. I had a sub for the afternoon at school, and I needed to be there that morning. The number of hugs, prayers, and instant support was incredible. When I shared at prayer what had happened, I could hardly speak the words. How could God let this happen to my brother? Thank goodness for waterproof makeup.

Stephen had survived surgery and was going to be ok. Those next few days and week at the hospital all are a blur. Little sleep, lots of prayer, but peace at the same time. We had so much support from family and friends. Hundreds of families and numerous churches throughout Omaha were praying. I had never been on the receiving end of all this, but God got us through.

People tell me I have a heightened sense of humor after I wake up from surgery. If you want to find someone even funnier, that would be Stephen. At times he was completely out of it, screaming in pain, or making funny jokes. At one point while I was in the ICU with him, he mentioned that he “straight up witnessed” to one of his nurses. I asked to hear about it and he went on to groggily tell me that his nurse had a similar injury and almost died from it. He said he was lucky to be alive and Stephen said that there was no such thing as luck. “Dude, what would you have done if you had died? Would you have gone to heaven?” Talk about being bold with your faith. He and the nurse had a solid conversation about death, eternity, and what Jesus did at the cross. Again I was reminded that our bodies are temporary. Eternity and what Jesus did at the cross is what matters. I remembered those words from the night of the accident. “If I take him, he will be with Me.”

Stephen’s recovery is a miracle. God still has plans for him here on Earth, and I am so thankful for that. It is not the way I would have ever chosen for God to remind not only me, but my entire family that life is so short. We always need to be ready for Eternity and not waste a moment of our time here on earth.

Through these months, I have been tempted to think more of my earthly circumstances than the cross. He has used these circumstances, in addition to others I haven’t listed, to show me again that He is good. He’s used each to redirect my focus back to Him and what He did for us. Cross over Circumstance.