"However long God wanted to take to bring us [my husband Shawn and I] through this life storm was necessary time to work in us something far greater than I could imagine or think." - Tracy Woods
My parents taught us to pray at an early age and introduced us to Christianity as we attended a neighborhood Baptist church. Using a sticker given to me in our Sunday School class, with the words “Jesus is Lord” written over the backdrop of a rainbow, God inspired my faith in Christ. Pasting that sticker to my dresser, I stared at it as a youngster and repeated the words, “Jesus is Lord ... Jesus is Lord … Jesus is Lord …” until the day my young mind awakened from a masked stupor to the reality of a Divine Being that assumed total responsibility for me. Feeling deep joy, I sat in awe as I believed in Christ. This ignited the beginnings of my private prayer life; where as a child I realized I could bring all my concerns to Christ. I believed Jesus cared for me.
Later, due to my grandmother’s and later my mother’s influence, we began attending a nearby Seventh-day Adventist church where my faith, knowledge of Scripture and prayer life continued to grow. This later proved vital during an unexpected health crisis, when I was hurtled into a fight for my very life. What evolved into a tragedy propelled me not just to pray once, but persistently and at every turn the unexpected crisis took, especially as it pertained to dreadful complications.
These words of Christ offered great encouragement, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NLT). I determined to keep on asking, seeking and knocking down Heaven’s door for complete healing not because I believe God needs to be massaged and melted, but because I learned a while ago that prayer does not change God, it changes us.
However long God wanted to take to bring us [my husband Shawn and I] through this life storm was necessary time to work in us something far greater than I could imagine or think. Scripture says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1: 2–4). I believe, through the unwelcome experiences of life, God is able to make us a better version of ourselves. I learned to trust God’s process. Our marriage grew stronger, our love for each other deepened, our characters were being refined under God’s molding hand.
Tricia Wynn Payne is director of women’s ministries for the Lake Region Conference.
Adapted from “The Fight for My Life: What I Discovered as I Triumphed Through Tragedy”