Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a deep darkness so black you thought you’d never see daylight again? Sometimes, the trials of life feel that way. My season of darkness occurred when I lost several family members in a short span of time. Grief stifled the light in my soul, and every time I thought I was on my way back to the light, someone else would die.
It was horrible, but somehow, God did something beautiful through it. He not only lifted the heaviness of grief, He healed broken places in me I didn’t know existed.
Eva Piper knows darkness. When her husband, Don, was mangled in a car accident, darkness hung heavy over her heart for months. At first, she didn’t know whether he’d survive his injuries. Then, she worried he didn’t have the will to endure the pain of his recovery. Would life ever get back to the way it was?
Don Piper’s best-selling book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, details Don’s side of the story: his death, his brief visit to heaven, and his return to a life on earth mixed with both pain and joy.
A Walk Through the Dark is Eva’s story, and it touched me more than I ever thought it would. When I was first approached about reviewing Eva’s book, I almost declined because my book reviewing experiences haven’t boosted my readership.
But God said, “Read this book, Lee.” So I did. All night long. Eva’s story of supporting her husband through his journey while enduring her own challenged and inspired me in a way I never expected.
Yes, I got my copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. But I’m saying to you now: read this book. God will use it to change you. Perhaps it will help you learn how to lean hard on God during your own season of darkness. Or maybe it will help you better support others when they are in a “black-out.”
Eva Piper graciously agreed to answer a few questions I had. I know you’ll be encouraged by her answers as much as I was.
LeeBird: As I read your book (all night long because I couldn’t put it down!), I felt like I watched your faith dig deep into the soil of your soul and take strong root. How did your experience deepen your faith?
Eva: In many ways, I took my faith for granted prior to Don’s accident. I prayed but mainly out of obligation and routine. I went to church on a regular basis; after all, I was a pastor’s wife. The words “I trust God” came out of my mouth easily. I really thought I was doing everything right. But on the day of Don’s accident, for the very first time I realized I had absolutely no control over what happened. It was in God’s hands. I learned prayer was more than thanks you and wishes. Prayer became a real, honest communication with God, and it was not confined to my devotional time. I found I could talk to God anytime, anywhere. There was such freedom in finding prayer did not always require folded hands and bowed head. I could pray while driving! The transformation of my prayer life led me to a deepened relationship with God. All relationships take time and energy, including the one between God and us. I had not spent much time building and strengthening my walk with God up until then. While I would never wish for Don’s accident to occur, I would also never want to go back to the surface relationship I had with God before then.
LeeBird: What role did intercessory prayer from others play in your “walk through the dark”?
Eva: For those who have read Don’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, you may remember the story of the first time he went back to church. The congregation was standing and clapping when a deacon handed Don the microphone. He said four words, and everyone in the sanctuary that day can repeat them. “You prayed, I’m here.” Without the prayers of others I would not have my husband today. Their prayers brought him back to earth, they brought healing to his broken body, and they restored his will to live. For me, those prayers gave me strength to make difficult decisions such as allowing my parents to take our sons home to live with them while Don recovered, to sign the consent form allowing Dr. Greider to install the bone growth device on Don’s leg, to comfort me when I was distraught and weary. The intercessory prayers of others took our names to God’s throne when we were too tired to pray ourselves. Those prayers saved our family.
LeeBird: How did your personal prayer life change because of your experience?
Eva: Through this experience, I found God really wants to hear from His children. Although I didn’t often share with friends and family my feelings of fear, anxiety, frustration, and anger, I did share them with God. Sometimes it was a quiet conversation, but sometimes, I yelled, screamed, and beat on the steering wheel of the car talking to God. He never failed to send me an answer. That answer might come in a particular verse, a song, or a friend’s counsel. More often than not, it was a feeling of peace that would come over me. I also learned that prayer is as much listening as it is talking. God is still speaking to His children today. That didn’t just happen in Bible times. Communication is a two-way street. I would not take anything for the change in my prayer life. It is one of the best things to come out of Don’s accident.
LeeBird: In the book, you mentioned that you started keeping a journal when Don was in the hospital. (I was sick to read that first journal was lost in hurricane damage!) How did going back and reading your prayers from your journey impact your faith?
Eva: It was a written testament to answered prayers. I could see where God had provided an answer, and, in that, I learned another lesson. Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is “no”. No may not be the answer you want, but it is an answer, and if that is the answer God gives, you have to trust He knows what’s best for you. I was there when Dr. Greider came out and said the bone growth device had done its job. Because I’d written in my journal my prayer for the device to work, I could go back, read, and praise God for answering my prayer. I love to provide things for my children, but I always appreciate hearing a thank you. God feels the same way.
LeeBird: Have you ever received written prayers from others? If so, how did they help you during your journey? If not, how do you think you would have felt receiving a “prayer gift”?
Eva: It just so happens, while I was going through some boxes of old photographs. I came across an envelope addressed to me. When I opened it, I found two sheets of paper filled with written prayers from some of our church family during the time of Don’s accident. The prayers were not long, only a sentence or two, but as I read them, they had the same impact as when I was handed that envelope almost 25 years ago. They touched my heart. Prayer is not regulated to one format. Prayers can be silent, spoken, sung, or written. The form it takes is not important; what is significant is the love behind the prayer. When my friends took the time to write a simple prayer for me, their hearts were seeking God’s power in my life. I’m grateful for all prayers said, written, or typed. They are an incredible gift.
LeeBird: Who do you feel is your primary audience for your book, and what do you hope the book’s message will accomplish?
Eva: My original audience was for those who found themselves in a caretaking role. I wanted to offer hope and encouragement. No one can really understand what it’s like to be a caregiver until you walk in those shoes. I think it will also give insight into how to minister to caregivers. People want to help, but are not sure how. My book will give them some practical ideas on how to minister to someone in need. As the book took shape, I realized everyone needs to be prepared for those dark times. Jesus told us the world is full of trouble. We never know when a tragedy or crisis may occur, and we need to be prepared. I believe my book can be of help to everyone looking for ways to be ready for those trials of life.
After hearing Eva Piper’s heart in the answers to my questions, aren’t you dying to read her book? Well, one of my readers will win a free copy of A Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper.
The winner can choose an electronic or hard copy provided by the publisher. To be entered, just leave a comment on this post. A winner will be chosen a week from now on August 7.
Thank you for being with us night and day. Your presence, peace, and provision make all the difference. Please meet with the heart of every caregiver today. You, the ultimate caregiver, understand better than anyone.
In the name of Jesus I pray, AMEN