The Hezekiah Years

The night of the accident the Lord clearly spoke to my heart, He reminded me of something long forgotten to make me appreciate an outpouring of grace that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.  That night He impressed upon my heart that He had extended the days of Sarah just as He had the days of Hezekiah.  It was such a clear and strong impression that I was compelled to share it with several others that very night and in the immediate days that followed.  I initially refrained from sharing it publicly recognizing it pushes the bounds spiritually for some, undoubtedly me included had He not impressed it so undeniably on my heart.

I remember the first time I was overcome with the thought that Sarah was only going to be with us temporarily.  She was sitting in her blue carseat, an adorable little blue eyed infant with a headful of tousled dark brown hair.  We were at my parents’ house,  the thought was so strong as it washed over me it literally made me feel physically ill.  I immediately attempted to squelch it as paranoia, but obviously I never forgot it. Over the next couple of years it would periodically wash over me again out of nowhere with the same crippling impact, no logical reason for thinking it.  I have four children but only wrestled with this in regard to Sarah, which made it all the more unsettling.  Each time it would strike, my reaction would fluctuate between attempting to disregard it as fear, and fervently interceding for God to spare her life.  I would cry out to Him asking if He were intending to take her home, that He would instead pour out His mercy on us and extend her days here just as He had Hezekiah’s.  Each time I struggled to relinquish the fear but often found myself gripped by it and pleading for more time with her.  It climaxed in 2004 when I finally came to the place where I surrendered both the fear and her to Him, trusting him to sustain us no matter the plight.  In the following years those thoughts and concerns faded away from daily life only rarely coming to mind, but even then only as a concern of the past. On the rare occasion it came to mind, it was generally in the form of questioning what had happened in those days.  Was it simply release from an irrational fear, or was it indeed reality and answered prayer?

The account of the extension of Hezekiah’s days, which was the foundation of my intercessory prayers during that time, is recorded in Isaiah 38.

“In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'”  Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,  and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying,  “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.”  Isaiah 38:1-5 [NASB]

Though I have journaled intermittently for many years, I did not expect to have a record of the struggle of that season. I frequently avoid journaling fears because of my belief that writing reinforces whatever the thoughts are.  Instead of journaling the negative thoughts I will usually journal the truths that combat the negative thoughts or fears. Frequently I journal passages of scripture followed by my understanding of how the scripture applies to strengthen or refine my heart and attitudes, without overtly recording the specific fear or concern. Yesterday morning I finally pulled out my old journals to see if there was any record of that time of intercession. True to what I expected I did not find a record of the fear or my wrestling in prayer for the extension of Sarah’s days, but I did find a record of the day I surrendered both to Him.

August 17, 2004

Philippians 4:4-7 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [NIV]

This morning I woke up at about 3:45 AM overwhelmed with the weight of longing to meet the needs of each of our children and Scott.  In addition I am frequently plagued with the feeling that Sarah is a temporary gift. I always immediately suppress the thought as foolishness, but this morning I was unable.  With the words “while it was yet dark He arose and went out” in my mind, I too arose while it was yet dark and sought my Lord. He is good and faithful and met me there.  I opened the living Word and He spoke to me.  I don’t know how many days I will enjoy the blessing of each child but I will rejoice for the moments I have already enjoyed.  I choose to rejoice for His mercy and grace is abundant and He will sustain me. I choose to rejoice because no matter what our plight I know He will reunite us in glory.  I pray now that God will pour His wisdom into me that my flesh will be silenced, that I will hear only His quiet leading. I pray that He in me will meet the needs of each of my children in abundance. I pray that they will know how very much they are loved, that they will know His love as well as mine.  Let me point to Him in everything I do, let me not be a stumbling block for them but rather a mason helping them to build upon The Rock. I dedicate this day to You Lord, inhabit me that it may be to Your glory.

~Karen Harmening

To reinforce the reality of the answered prayer, about an hour after I found the above journal entry a friend from Tennessee arrived for a visit.  I couldn’t wait to tell her what I had found and began to explain to her how years ago I had a season of interceding for added days with Sarah, she interrupted and said she remembered me sharing that burden with her at that time.  She was reminded of it the night of the crash before the name of the fatality had been released, she said as my words from all those years ago came back to her mind she knew in her heart that it was Sarah.

I praise God for “the Hezekiah years” of Sarah’s life.  So many rich memories were added during that time, and so many were blessed by and through her. My heart still deeply grieves her absence but I am overwhelmed by God’s grace in the revelation of answered prayers of old. So today I pray the same prayer of surrender offered up so many years ago, entrusting her and our entire family to Him. Though the depth of our aching is beyond words, I choose to rejoice today for the moments we enjoyed with Sarah, with an added sweetness in the Hezekiah years.  I choose to rejoice that His grace and mercy is abundant, and He is sustaining us.  And above all else, to His praise I choose to rejoice because He absolutely will beyond any shadow of doubt reunite us in glory.

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7 thoughts on “The Hezekiah Years

  1. All I can think right now is how gracious and kind our Father is. Thanks again for sharing your heart with us, Karen!

  2. Karen, how beautiful. May our LORD grant you peace in double portions today and as you meet each new day. I am so thankful you have such a great knowledge of the LORD. I know that will help you face this struggle to keep your faith and emotions in equilibrium even when it doesn’t seem at all possible. You are doing a beautiful job of sharing what you are encountering. I wish I could help more. How is it possible to never have been introduced and yet feel so connected? I told you once I felt that we were kindred spirits. I don’t say that often. I thank God for you! I praise Him for putting you smack dab in the life of a special young man for I know that as much as the LORD is his solace right now, YOU are helping him live each new day right now. Love to you both and to Katelyn, Kristen, and Sophie. May the LORD enfold each of you in HIS great comforting arms and give you peace that only He CAN give.

  3. At a womens’ conference, I was introduced to the term “prevenient grace.” That is God’s grace that goes before us. Certainly your testimony in today’s writing shows how God’s grace moved before you providing with His truths that can sustain you, your family, and others.

  4. God’s grace goes before us so often! I rejoice in the fact that you are able to see His grace and knowing He is there walking with you, and has been!

  5. Karen, What a beautiful testimony of your Walk with our Lord. I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss of your precious Sarah and pray for your continued comfort and peace. Thank you for sharing parts of your journey with others. You are blessing many of us by your day to day walk of faith.

  6. Dear Karen,
    I have been praying for you! Your words here have been such an encouragement to me – what a blessing. So many times our thoughts wander to years long ago…we always wonder, “What happened to that teen?” “Are they walking with God?” etc. Tears are flowing down my face, to know that God has been your “ever present help in trouble”. He is faithful and we are praising the Lord for your trust in HIM. Thank you for sharing your journey with us for His glory. Your sweet smile was always such an encouragement to me back in those youth group days; I trust the Lord will restore your smile.
    Much Love,
    Colette (Dorman….and Pastor Jerry too)

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