Posted by: John Edwards | July 1, 2008

DANGER!

Sometimes what you say and how they hear are two different things. Sometimes what you say and how they hear are the same thing. This can be very dangerous if what is being said is in error.
I found this out the hard way. It has taken me eight years to finally gain some understanding concerning my daughter Jennifer’s death. John and I graduated from a Word of Faith School and began a “Word” church in 1998. In 2000 we relocated our church to a new building in another part of town. Six weeks after we had moved, our fourteen year old daughter died of a malignant brain tumor. It was a tumor as big as an orange in the middle of her brain and touched many different parts of her brain. At the time we found it the doctor said that if he had operated on her he would not have been able to remove it all and that she would have suffered severe deficits. Of course this is one of the most devastating things that can happen to parents. Being a WOF person following such tragedy is difficult enough but being a pastor’s wife and a trained minister was agonizing. John preached healing and layed hands on the sick the Sunday following Jenn’s funeral. I went through the motions. I attended church faithfully and put up a pretty good front for the sake of the ministry, but inside I was dying. I had been taught that confession and words were of tremendous importance in a believer’s life. I was taught that words have the power to create good things in our life or bad things. That through wrong words we can create poverty, sickness, tragedy or even an early death. I was taught that the words that I spoke when mixed with faith could literally create circumstances. I believed this with all my heart. Until Jenn died. After she died I could not help but question “How?…how did this happen?”. How did I “confess” my daughter’s future for 14 years and she literally drop dead of a brain tumor in 2 days? I made plans with her as all parents do. We talked about college and marriage and children. She always said she wanted to be a “traveler” or an actress. She and her friends planned their futures and talked about the upcoming year as freshmen in high school. This question has plagued me for 8 years. I asked every faith minister that I knew this question. No one had any answer for me. I even received some ridiculous answers. Some said that maybe she was in sin. Some said that children usually die of tragedy when the father commits adultery. Some said that I didn’t have enough faith. Some said that she didn’t have enough faith. Some said that maybe she caused it herself because she said her head hurt or that maybe she harbored unforgiveness toward her parents. All of these responses came from preachers of word of faith. None of them brought me any comfort. I mean if words mixed with faith are capable of creating circumstances in our lives then why isn’t Jenn in college right now? or married? or just traveling all over the place like she planned? I never said that she would one day die of a brain tumor. I just don’t believe it anymore. The danger is that it almost shipwrecked my faith in God. I know many true believers that love the Lord but they have been so abused by the erroneous teaching of the Word of Faith doctrine. I know I led people down a path through my teaching that was paved with heartache, self doubt and bitterness toward God. I taught confession to people for years! I honestly believed that if I said that my children would never suffer tragedy or sickness then they wouldn’t. I believed I had authority over my children’s lives in this regard. I began to look at myself as the one who was responsible for everything in my life. I had heard Brother Hagin say that he didn’t pray for his family anymore than at the most three times. To pray about it anymore would be doubt in the first prayer that he prayed. I got to where I didn’t pray for them anymore because I thought that would be doubting God and my confession. I once had an argument with a fellow believer over a mutual friend that had terminal cancer. His point was that it was dangerous to offer unreasonable hope to someone. I argued that he only had to confess and believe and he would receive his healing. My friend died and I wonder if I made his wife and child feel guilt at his death. I don’t know.
I found Jenn’s diary the week after she died. I read it of course because I wanted to feel close to her. The diary was full of things young teen girls talk about. Boys that they think are “hotties“, petty squabbles with friends, grades and plans for the weekend (plans, always plans, lots and lots of plans). Jenn wrote all the way up until the week before she died. In almost every entry she said she woke up in pain or that she felt extremely nauseated. She said she would confess God’s Word and take some Advil and go out and play. I found a bottle of Advil in her dresser drawer after she died. I wonder if she was afraid to talk about her pain? Afraid that if she did then something bad would happen to her. I wonder if I had not been so delusional about my faith that maybe I would have heard or seen something sooner. I wonder if I was in denial because I thought that nothing could ever happen to us. My youngest son just recently revealed to me that he has always been afraid to tell me when his throat hurt or when he felt bad. He had heard that by speaking about it, it would make it so. He was rebuked in children’s church once for saying something “tickled him to death”. The children’s minister said “Oh, don’t say that! You may die of laughter.” It seems comical but it is so sad. How many people could have been saved if they had told someone that they felt bad? How many lives have been lost because someone thought that to show their faith in their healing meant to stop taking their insulin or heart medications? How many people didn’t ask for help when they needed it most? I am not consumed with guilt although I am remorseful. I once saw a student in bible school leave class with chest pain. He had all the classic symptoms of a heart attack. He was short of breath, holding his left arm, sweating profusely and pasty white. Some fellow students jumped up and ran after him and began walking him up and down the hall confessing that he would live and not die! Instead of calling 911 they were ignoring his symptoms! If the teacher had not stopped class and corrected their behavior I have no doubt that he probably would not have survived. The message in WOF is erroneous and dangerous. We are not taught in God’s word to deny anything. To deny a reality to the extent of saying that it doesn’t exist is negligent. If there is a lump in your breast then it is there no matter how much you deny it. Just because you say it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. Ask the Lord to heal you and get to a doctor fast! I believe that a lot of the confession message is really a lot of hope and pride. Well in my observation, the WOF people are just as sick, broke, divorced, on drugs, and suffering moral failures as the rest of humanity. Jesus said, “Hey guys, just be glad your name is written down in the book of life.” We don’t always know everything because guess what?… We are not God! No matter how much you call yourself the creator of your own world, you are not. I know Jenn is with Jesus now. She will never suffer this life again and frankly at times that brings me great comfort and joy. No matter how much I miss her, I will see her again. She is actually in a much better position than her brothers. To live is Christ, to die is gain. Would I change the circumstances if I could? Of course. But to pull her out of the Savior’s arms now would be selfish. What I hope and pray is that someone will read this and maybe a light will go off and they will begin to question some of this teaching. It’s okay to do that you know. It might just save your life.

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Responses

  1. Great Comments from Ben There and Some one you might know!

  2. AWESOME. I know this will affect MANY people.
    I was not of course in an immediate life threatening situation. Though, because I had been told a few times to “BE CAREFUL you should have what you say” when I would mention on Sunday, or Wednesday nights when asked how I was feeling, that “I feel really nauseated”, or “my heart is beating way too fast”, or something about how I was REALLY feeling poorly. I was repeatedly rebuked as if I were a small child saying potty words out loud in the Sanctuary. Even though my heart REALLY WAS racing (often) at over 150 bpm (at rest), and I was very sick. I then quit sharing with anyone about how sick I was getting (since January) I kept it between God and the Doctors and tried not to scare my little girl (in retrospect, how sad and lonesome for her to not be able to speak to a supportive adult about it.) Bless God, it’s behind me now. I am recovering from surgery as I write this. But, it is a VERY sickening, sad, isolated feeling, when you’ve surrounded yourself with people you love and respect, but who’s questions you can’t seem to answer correctly at all. It made me wonder why those people couldn’t understand, that Jesus would want them to be the hands and the feet for Christ. Instead of the judge speaking so loudly for the enemy. I knew I wasn’t “writing contracts” with God or the devil with my words. It made me want to stay home, instead of surrounding myself with the people I perhaps would have needed most, (if their words hadn’t been so confusing).
    Church is a “Spiritual Emergency Room”, NOT a Country Club for those who have “already arrived”, and “those who have become so perfect through their own works and WORDS”.
    It always felt as though they were thinking that my Faith was just not on a level to receive anything. There I was, knowing differently but unable to communicate it. So, I became quiet, and worked it out with God and my Doctors.
    Another thought as I close here: Isn’t it “judging others” when we correct their words? Then, are those “Word Police” not sinning? How then, could THEY be in the position to receive anything, if they are already in sin? Especially a sin they would be already aware of. A “pet sin” of sorts, that they keep around to make themselves feel better.

  3. I read this yesterday and then came back and read it again. I wanted to try and understand it. The more I thought about what was written the more I agreed with it. We put our faith in mere words and not GOD.

    A personal note, is when I lost a loved one I first blamed myself for not having enough faith to save her. Why couldn’t my faith save her? Then I got to thinking that she did not have enough faith to help me save her. There had to be some reason my confession did not work. What am I missing? Can’t I have what I say? If I confess, believe and do not doubt I can move mountains. I believed and confessed but what happened, she died. There had to be a reason why. I blamed myself, her and every sin that I have done or even thought of doing. Then I got to thinking and this came to my mind. Didn’t Jesus die so our sins were forgiven. Then in GOD’s eye we were forgiven WE HAD NOT SINNED. There had to be another reason why my words could not save her.

    DO YOU SEE WHAT IS MISSING HERE? I did not have GOD in the equation, it was MY faith and HER faith. Not faith in GOD.

    It is true that words are a powerful tool. With words one can destroy a person’s self esteem, reputation and life but to teach that YOU can control your life by your confession is wrong. It is not a sin to have a goal, believe you will accomplish that goal and work for it is not wrong. To let it control your life is.

    Enough rambling, thank you Coni for sharing your thoughts with us.

  4. I admire you too, Coni. You are a wonderful mom. Thank you for your honesty and sincerity. That was very powerful and I know it will help many people. I’m glad you are my friend.

  5. I think you are a very brave and courageous mom to have written this blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and I admire you very much.

    Myra


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