Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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“I Know the Plans I Have For You…”

Posted by elainemcooper on October 12, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Mom and Bethany, December 2000

My daughter, Bethany, passed away from a brain tumor nine years ago this month. She was twenty-four years old.

Her short life was rich with friends whose lives she touched in so many ways. A strong believer in Christ, she continued to be a witness for the Lord up until she died. But even death did not stop the seeds she had planted during her moments on earth—seeds that continued to bloom long after her graveside flowers had faded.

When she was ill and suffering from the devastating effects of the disease, she attended an adult care center twice a week for people with brain injuries. She met a young man there (I’ll call him “Sam”) who had been in a car accident several years prior and was now blind as well as having other injuries.

Bethany had witnessed to Sam, but he wanted nothing to do with her belief in God. Before she died, Bethany shared with me privately how worried she was about his salvation. I don’t remember exactly how I reassured her at the time. I do remember thinking I didn’t have time to be concerned about Sam when I was concerned about her. But I’m sure I told her we would keep praying for him.

The inevitable happened a few weeks later when the cancerous tumor took our daughter’s life. Sam attended her funeral but he was devastated and angry. We lost touch with him for quite awhile, still trying to recover from our own grief.

A year later, I was painting Bethany’s bedroom a fresh new color—bright pink, befitting her personality.

Keeping extra busy helped me while I still recovered from the sting of her loss. A few hours of work would provide some mind-numbing escape, I thought.

There was a desk in the room with a few items on it that I thought I had gone through already. But I found a piece of paper sitting there that I hadn’t seen before. It had Sam’s name and phone number on it, in a handwriting that I did not recognize.

I stared at the phone number a moment, pondering what to do. Our church was having a special service coming up, so I spontaneously called Sam to ask him if we could pick him up and take him with us. To my total surprise, he responded, “yes.”

During the service, he was earnestly listening to the speaker who spoke about confessing Jesus as Savior. The message of the gospel completely engaged Sam’s attention—it was obvious the Holy Spirit had been doing an incredible work in his life.

When the preacher asked for anyone who wanted to make a decision to come to the Lord, Sam seemed anxious as he shifted in his seat. I leaned over and asked him if he wanted to go forward with me to pray. He gave an enthusiastic, “yes,” then clenched my sleeve as I led his blinded path up to the counselor. Sam gave his life to the Lord that day and his spiritual path became filled with clarity of vision.

Ever since then, my husband drives over every Sunday morning to pick Sam up and he comes to church with us to this day. He is still one of the most engaged listeners at every sermon.

When I told my son, Ben, this story, I could practically feel his smile on the other end of the phone line. “Bethany is still having an impact in people’s lives.”

Indeed. Even in her illness, she was still sowing seeds of obedience and love. And in facing her death, she understood in a greater way what one’s life in Christ truly meant.

Her favorite Bible verse was Jeremiah 29:11 and the reference is etched on her gravestone:

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)

There is no greater hope than the promise of heaven.

17 Responses to ““I Know the Plans I Have For You…””

  1. What an amazing testimony Elaine. And also an amazing precious daughter. Wonder how many other people have stories of you dauther’s love for Jesus to them. It’s like God is keeping her alive through those she touched.
    And that Sam still goes to church with you is wonderful. And I’m sure Sam thinks that too.
    Thank you for sharing Bethany’s story. I will pray for you this month as you reflect back on her memories.

  2. Precious. What to write, indeed…

  3. That is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read and I’ll still be thinking about it for a long time! Thank you for sharing Bethany’s story which is also Sam’s story and what an extraordinary legacy she left!

  4. Sandi said

    What a beautiful memory Elaine. I, too, was blessed beyond measure by Bethany. She most definitely left her “footprints” on many souls!

  5. Elaine, Bethany’s ministry is still active and alive! I will share her story with my nephew’s wife who is currently battling brain cancer. No matter what happens, she is confident of where she is going but is concerned about those she may leave behind. Thank you!

    • So happy that Bethany’s story can minister to you and to your nephew’s wife, Valerie. It clearly showed me that we do our part and leave the rest with God. He is faithful when we plant our seeds. ((HUGS))

  6. Carla Gade said

    Oh, Elaine. This brought me to tears. God’s outstretched hand surpasses every circumstance! I’m so sorry that you lost your dear daughter, how special she was, is! What a blessing for you and your husband to share her ministry to Sam and that he is now part of God’s kingdom. I have several friends who have passed away through the years and have made a commitment to pray for their children, to somehow carry the torch of prayer on behalf of their mother. Prayer is powerful and practical, transcending life and death. Again, so happy about the new life in Christ that Sam has because of your daughter’s desire that He know the Lord.

    • And what a blessing you are to your friends! Praying for their children is the greatest gift you can give them—carrying on their work after they are gone. Thank you for your sweet words and I pray that my daughter’s story will live on to minister in the lives of so many others. Blessings!

  7. Our confidence and trust in the Lord is unmeasurable for He holds our hearts. My son, Michael, died of a heart attack 6/3/11. How precious my memories are of “our memories” together. The first was from our 26-y-o daughter in Dallas, who said, “Now, who is going to call us that we are in the red zone??” So precious how he would call us to tell us he was watching the weather channel and to alert us. So much love. I am thankful to the Lord for Who He Is. Our all encompassing Love. My favorite Scripture is Psalm 119:111 “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.”
    I will be praying for you this month and as the holidays approach. So dear to my heart. Kathleen

    • Praying for you as you face the upcoming holidays as well, Kathleen. The “new normal” is an adjustment. I pray that you will find a way to honor his memory during the holidays as a tribute to him. ((HUGS)) from a fellow mom who understands.

  8. Ginger said

    What a wonderful legacy your daughter left behind. Thanks for telling us about it.

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