Last night I watched the movie “Letters to God” which was inspired by a true story of an eight-year old boy with cancer. In the movie Tyler Doherty's walk of faith takes the form of praying via letters he composes and mails. Tyler’s letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels, his temporary postman who’s dealing with his own personal issues. Brady is initially confused and conflicted over what to do with the letters, but eventually develops a friendship with the Doherty family.
This was not a feel-good movie – it was an encouraging, uplifting story about the impact of praying to a loving God and the galvanizing effect it had on Tyler’s family, friends and community because of Tyler’s belief and strong faith. To Tyler, God is a friend, a teacher, and the ultimate pen pal. The movie showed that while God doesn’t always answer the way we want, He does what is best.
This movie blessed my heart because I’ve been touched by cancer through deaths of loved ones and the long-term survival of others. I’m well aware of how a cancer diagnosis brings fear and can devastate families. My sister’s husband died from cancer. My other sister’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law died from the effects of cancer. My dad, my brother-in-law, my friend’s teenage grandson, and a childhood friend have completed or are in the midst of completing cancer-related treatments. My paternal aunt, my sister’s sister-in-law, and my childhood Sunday School teacher are all long-term breast cancer survivors. I’ve attended the funerals of friends from church and my neighborhood who lost their cancer battles. In my former job as a regional Human Resources Director, I and my staff assisted employees with cancer obtain their long-term disability benefits. Several eventually succumbed from the effects of their illness.
In numerous prayer journals over the years (my letters to God), I’ve written the names of those I mentioned above. Like in the movie, God didn’t always respond the way I hoped. Some lives He prolonged and others in His Sovereignty, He chose to end here. We don’t always understand what He is doing (For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55:9). I know that He hears us whether we translate just our thoughts, speak out loud, write out our prayers, or allow the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf. So I say, thank You, Father, for giving us the privilege of bringing our burdens to you and for the eternal home that Jesus has prepared for those who confess Him as Lord. Amen.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans Romans 8:26
SPOILER ALERT Patrick Doherty, Tyler's real father, wrote "Letters to God" after his son lost his battle with cancer. Doherty admits "Letters to God" was, at first, just a "cool title" for a movie. It wasn't until after the death of his son and a year-and-a-half after the screenplay was finished that he found Tyler's real letters to God. For more information about the movie, access these links: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2010/March/Letters-to-God-A-Movie-of-Hope/ http://www.letterstogodthemovie.com/