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  • Writer's pictureSherry Wilbert

Unanswered Prayer

Updated: Feb 22




The call came on a Saturday. I have stage 4 colon cancer and the doctor said I have 11 months to live.  Shock—oh my God; disbelief—that can’t be true; denial—they need to do more tests. Then came anger at God—how could You allow this to happen; bargaining—take it away from him and give it to me; acceptance—giving way to tears, tears, and more tears. 


 After the shock eased, I realized I had to pray for my son’s return to health. He was only 36, had two children, 3 years old and a 2-month-old baby. Surely if I prayed enough, God would see the absurdity of taking someone with so much to live for. I began to pray, morning, noon, and especially in the middle of the night as I lay awake. I asked for prayers from everyone I knew. His name was on prayer lists of churches of friends and friends of friends.  All those prayers had to be a constant echo in God’s ears, one that He couldn’t ignore.


The cancer routine began, chemo one day, sick for 6, repeating weekly for months, and the prayers continued. He said he would beat it, and I knew in my heart he would because hundreds of people were asking God for the same thing. He is a loving God and of course He would answer my prayers! The predicted eleven months came and went. We celebrated birthdays and holidays that were supposed to be his last and yet we celebrated the next year. God was answering prayers. My son would live a long life after all!


Joe with Ben Roethlisberger

Besides praying, everyone wanted to do something. Food – too much – was brought to the house daily. The lawn was mowed. Friends babysat. His company designed a job specifically for him to work at home. High school and college friends organized golf outings, raising over $75,000 for his children’s college education. Our family formed a Relay for Life Team that raised $20,000 for cancer research. We were helping others, so we knew God would help us!


Joe with Jerome "The Bus" Bettis

Then came headaches, confusion, and loss of expression. Why didn’t the remote make phone calls? Why didn’t the phone change channels. Why couldn’t he carry his infant son down the steps? Why couldn’t he drive the car?  The cancer took over his body, his brain, and eventually his life. He died peacefully a little more than two years after being told he only had eleven months to live.


Where was God during those two years? Why did God allow a dynamic, much loved young man to die?  Why did God take a husband away from his wife and boys? Why did God want two children to not know their father? Why did his parents, sisters, friends, and strangers pray so hard and long to restore him to good health, only to be ignored by God? WHY DIDN’T GOD ANSWER MY PRAYERS?


Joe at the beach with his sons, four months before he passed away.

Or, DID He? I prayed for my son to live. In his living with a painful disease, as we cried buckets of tears, he never lost his positive attitude and sense of humor. He never said “why me?” He never complained. He just continued to live his life. He alone understood, accepted God’s plan for him; the rest of us did not. He continued to live while the rest of us prematurely grieved.


Through his sickness and dying, we began to unconsciously absorb lessons that only God can teach. We learned to accept that which we don’t understand, to continue living, with laughter overshadowing the tears. As friends and neighbors reached out to help his family with food, childcare, rides, etc, we learned the importance of being an active part of a “village,” of working in the community to help others physically, financially and spiritually at every opportunity. We learned to not be afraid of the future, of being able to share sadness with those we love, and especially to not be afraid when death comes close.  


What we learned was that God did have a plan. Just as Jesus taught others through His example, so did God teach us through our son’s extraordinary example of how to live and die.  No one who knew my son will ever forget his kindness, his bright smile, his positive attitude, his deep love for family and friends, his acceptance of God’s Will. He continues to live here on earth, through everyone whose life he touched.


When his time came, as I held his hand and prayed for God to take him home, I witnessed his beautiful smile radiate with happiness as he greeted his angels.  He is now where he wanted to be, and he IS alive, living with his Lord, spreading his sunshine throughout the Heavens.  Whether I like the way He did it or not, my prayers WERE answered! 





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7 Kommentare


lejubra
23. Apr.

Thank you for sharing that.I know God you use your grief for His glory

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Chris Phillips
Chris Phillips
24. Feb.

My beautiful friend. Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal reflection. By the grace of God go I. This certainly demonstrates that God has a plan for all us even when we question and do not understand. Much love!

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denisekbabb
24. Feb.

Thank you, Sherry, for writing such a beautiful piece about your son. And thank you for being vulnerable and opening your heart so that others could feel your pain but also witness God’s answered prayer. Much Love, Denise

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Carol Apgar
Carol Apgar
22. Feb.

Wow Sherry I had no idea. This profoundly touched my heart. I can see your beautiful face in your son. Thank you for sharing and I pray this helps others as much as it did me.

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Janet Richey
Janet Richey
22. Feb.

This is such a tender story, and I pray it offers comfort to those who have been in a similar spot. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

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