Together we produced and hosted, "The Sunday Offering Show," a Christian rock music program that aired for five years on WXTQ. After an early fight, where Greg was so mad at me he bolted out of the studio and walked 10 miles home, we became the best of friends who complimented one another's gifts. He had the vision and I had the technical know-how to implement it.
After I moved to Dallas for seminary, Greg and his family later moved to Nashville. We lost touch with each other for a few years--until Greg called me out of the blue. I told him, "You must now be some fat cat Nashville music executive and you're calling to bring me on as your vice-president."
"No, I wish" he said, "I called to tell you I've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."
In less than two years, one the best friends I ever had was gone.
During the funeral service, somebody said:
"We prayed that God would heal Greg and let him live. We're sad that it didn't happen. But God was pleased that we asked."
That last line has baffled me for over the years. Pleased? How could God have been pleased? If He was pleased, then why didn't He let Greg live?
I couldn't understand how God could take pleasure in bringing Him a prayer request that He didn't grant. Years later, I'm beginning to appreciate the reality that God truly is pleased.
What's moved my thinking is the discussion Jesus has with the desperate father in Mark 9:14-29:
Father: "...But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
Jesus: " 'If you can'? Everything is possible for him who believes."
The problem, Jesus says, isn't God's ability. God can accomplish whatever He wants. The question is, "Do you believe I'm able?"
While it troubles me that Jesus put the burden of believing upon the father, my friend Greg gladly welcomed such a responsibility. In fact, there's no Christian I knew who had greater faith in God's ability than Greg. Compared to Greg, I was always the one who said, "I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief." Numerous times Greg said his healing was coming soon.
And it did. God took Greg home in May, 2001.
Throughout the whole cancer ordeal, Greg, his family, and friends trusted and believed in God's love, power, and providence.
And though our prayers weren't answered in the way we wanted, God was pleased that we asked.
UPDATE: Scot McKnight has started a series on unanswered prayer.