When We Don’t See A Purpose

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
– John Watson (aka Ian MacLaren)

My friend and pastor, Tom Ascol, was struck by lightning in 2008 and lived to tell about it. The aftermath was difficult to say the least. No visible signs were on his body, but on the inside, the electricity and its effects continued to surge. Unable to sleep due to the excess energy, he lay awake for days on end; even eating was a tremendous struggle. Noise and light were amplified to him at such a rate, he felt better alone in a house with lights out and shades pulled. Although his internal life was changed in a split-second flash, onlookers could simply see a man.

His family decided to go ahead with an already-planned vacation the next week, thinking that getting him out of town might give him more solitude. One problem: the Atlanta airport for the connecting-flight.

People raced in every direction, while my friend shuffled his feet, trying to make his body do what it used to do. Loudspeaker announcements made him wince; lights made him want to hide. His wife stood by him as they walked slowly.  She saw people huff and puff, so frustrated AT her husband that he wasn’t going the speed they seemed to think that he should.  No one could know what kind of life-threatening week he had had. No one could understand why he looked “normal” but acted differently. No one seemed to care.

Struggles and cockroaches have a lot in common:

–       For every one we see out in the open floor, there are hundreds hiding in the walls.

–       Everyone has a battle with them in their house (for cockroaches -at least south of the Mason Dixon; for struggles – everywhere), and no one likes to admit it.

–       They have a purpose under heaven; although under heaven, we don’t always see a purpose.

–       There are no cockroaches in heaven!  (for struggles: Isaiah 65; For cockroaches: Book of Opinions 1:1)

I am not a fan of cockroaches. Go ahead, start a website, “CockroachesAgainstTerriBrady.com”. Fine by me. You can tell me they are harmless all you want, but they give me the creeps. I have seriously wondered why God would put such creatures on this earth with me.

But they served a purpose under heaven once, and I realized, once again, that my ways are not His ways and my thoughts are not His thoughts. (Is 55:8)

It began with a 27-yr-old friend of mine who was diagnosed with “terminal” stage-4 colon cancer. Doctors approximated 6 months of life for this beautiful, seemingly healthy young mother of two.  Diana never put a period where God had put a comma. She had surgery and then fought the fight, yet humbly submitted to God’s will throughout her struggle.

Our mutual friend, Sheri, let me in on a secret: Diana had never seen the Atlantic Ocean. Immediately, (January, 2010) we booked flights from Colorado for Diana to join Sheri and me at the Florida beach. The trip was amazingly blessed. We went from blood-sweating prayer, to tearful questions, to girlfriend laughs. Diana caught her first fish off of my dock, and a mother manatee and her twin babies surfaced to look at her as if she were Snow White. I was beginning to call her the “animal whisperer,” but apparently, she had that effect on cockroaches too!

We took the beach chairs out of the storage bags, and cockroaches jumped to the ground, scurrying every which way. My oldest son tried to bury them, and a seagull dived and caught one before our eyes. Yay! One cockroach down and a seagull was fed something besides my sandwich!

After the excitement seemed gone, Sheri, Diana and I lined up our chairs to watch the surf come to the sand in the waves’ motion. A pod of dolphins appeared in the distance – as if continuing Snow White’s show.

Suddenly, I felt that unmistakable crawling feeling: a three-inch cockroach was on my

English: High detail closeup of a cockroach.

leg!! He ascended my inner calf – making me scream like a hyena. It really is not like me, but I screeeeeeamed! I jumped up, trying to shake him off. The more I shook, the tighter the varmint held on. I began to run….in circles….around Sheri and Diana’s row of chairs, now forming words, “Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!”  while visions of it crawling up between my legs haunted my head.

I stopped in front of Sheri’s chair, and asked, “Is it gone?” pointing to the back of my leg where I couldn’t bear to look!

“No.” She calmly said.

“Can you pleeeease get it OFF?!” I asked, fully expecting her to flick it to the ground.

Sheri shook her head no, and said with wrinkled eyebrows, “um…, water?” in a “duh!” kind of tone.  She shooed me with her hand, motioning for me to go into the January ocean.

I didn’t hesitate. I screamed my way to the ocean, and sat in the waves, watching my nemesis float away to be scooped up by a seagull.

That’s when I noticed. Diana was LAUGHING. She wasn’t giggling, or snickering; she was laughing. She grabbed her waist, which was still sore from surgery, but she couldn’t stop her body from hysterical laughter.  It was then that I noticed that the beach was not empty, but FULL of people in front of whom I had just made myself a complete FOOL! It made me laugh. Louder! The three of us got such a side-splitting, gut-wrenching laugh out of it that joy seemed to shower upon our threesome. For a moment, it took away the weight of the cancer, the prognosis, the battle, and the death sentence that loomed over our friend’s head and in each of our hearts.

Their mini-vacation lasted only 2 days, but it seemed like each hour, one of us would bring up the cockroach word, or the cockroach dance (La Cucaracha!) and we would begin laughing all over again.

When I dropped Diana at the airport, I wondered what God had planned for her. I wept at the pain of her struggle. I hate to see someone struggle! I see no earthly reason for them! I prayed in tears.

Days later, I got a text from Diana, “La cucaracha!!” and I laughed out loud. The “cockroach” word became our inside joke that fueled our ability to laugh during a horrible time.

Diana well surpassed the doctors’ 6-month prediction, but when July arrived, it became evident that her body was indeed shutting down as the cancer was winning the battle for her life, at age 28.

Knowing that she believed in Jesus Christ as her savior, she knew she would be going to heaven, so at one point she asked me to describe for her what heaven would be like. I told her all that I could remember (mostly from Isaiah 65 and Revelations 21):

–       “There will be no more tears!

–       No sound of crying anywhere!

–       No darkness of night, but no sun required, because God’s glory will light the whole thing!

–       More beautifully decorated with gold than could be described!

–       Jesus is there, and has a room prepared for you, and I hope it’s near mine! LOL!

–       Diana, you will be given a new heavenly body, with no more pain!!”

As I spoke through the verses I could recall, I looked forward to going there myself, and I certainly looked forward to it for Diana’s pain-riddled body.

Texts became one-sided as I sent Bible verses and prayers in her direction, and got none in return due to her decline.

In September, she was told it looked like only weeks were left. My aunt died that month, so I flew to Colorado for her funeral, and I was able to stop in and see Diana.  From her feeble body, her inner strength still shined outwardly, when she said, “I don’t understand; but I trust Him.” (Proverbs 3:5) We prayed that she would be spared, and yet we wanted God’s will to be done. What a joy to pray with a believer!

In October, her husband texted me that hospice said they thought she was within hours of death.

I decided to text one last thing.

Then I stopped myself.  I was concerned that my humor would offend her husband, and it’s the last thing I would want to do. I erased the text and prayed.

After time, the thought wouldn’t leave my mind, so I followed through and texted her husband, “Whisper in her ear, ‘There are no cockroaches in heaven.’”

Message sent.

I got a text back from her husband which said that Diana had reacted to my words in a
full-face smile, the first response to anything they had seen in 4 days!  God had used the cockroaches!! What smiles they delivered – even in her last days on this earth.

Two days later, she went to live with her King Jesus forever, in her new body, with no more tears, no more pain, no more night, and I believe no more cockroaches.

Struggles are like cockroaches. Many times we have no earthly idea why they are here, but we can trust that God has heavenly ideas.

“Every circumstance that touches my life has first been filtered through His fingers of love.”- Nancy DeMoss

To recap:

Struggles and cockroaches have a lot in common:

–       For every struggle we see in the open, there are probably hundreds more in private, so be kind.

–       Everyone has struggles; you are not alone.

–       Struggles have a purpose under heaven; although under heaven, we don’t always see a purpose.

–       There is no suffering in heaven! Amen.

May you trust Him with your struggles – the ones in the middle of the floor and the ones behind the walls:  the lightning strikes, the health problems, the marriage problems, the overbearing debt and the cockroaches. If He can use cockroaches to bring smiles to a dying woman, how much more can He do with you, His loving child, as He holds you throughout these days and into the bright, really, really bright skies ahead?! Keep holding on!

Blessings,  Terri


“Never put a period where God has put a comma.” –Dr. Robert Smith, Jr.
Recommended Reading:
Trusting God (When Life Hurts) by Jerry Bridges, free PDF download here.

34 thoughts on “When We Don’t See A Purpose

  1. Wow! Mrs. Brady! I thank God for blessing all of us with your words, strength, and smiles. Thank you for listening to the Lord and sharing the stories that someone in the world needs to hear at that moment. Thank you for never giving up on your dreams in LIFE. From a half a sleep fan thanking God that this is the first thing that i read this morning;). God bless you Mrs. Brady

    • My dearest Terri,
      You always find beauty and purpose for all things in life.The most memorable to me, the suicide of “Uncle Doodle”,which devastated our entire family. No one who takes their own life realize the waves the act sets in motion or how or where those waves sweep. I well remember one that swept over your spirit and heart. A phone call for you at 3:15 am a few weeks later disturbed Dad’s and my sleep as I sleepily got out of bed to awaken you with the admonishment that your friend must call at a reasonable time of the day. You took the phone call and I fell back into a stupor of sleep long before the conversation ended.

      The next morning when you related the purpose of that call, I realized that Doodle’s death had provided a purpose (at least one purpose) since the phone call had been from an acquaintance of yours who planned to end his life that night. I will never know what that conversation entailed, but I do know that the young man did not follow through with his plan after the “middle of the night conversation”.

      I knew, at that moment, God had a purpose for your life on this earth. As I read the various responses to your writings, I realize your life is for more purposes than that one night. The wonderful wife and companion to Chris has inspired many; your stories of motherhood and the positive influence you and Chris have shown to raise such wonderful and thoughtful children; and lastly, the continued positive effect you have made on my life as medical and financial issues cause struggles that seem insurmountable.

      To return to the beginning of this story, Doodle’s death
      caused struggles for so many, but the positive outcomes from this act proves there was a purpose altho we couldn’t
      see God’s plan at that time.

      Know I love and am so very proud of you,


  2. Terri,
    And sometimes we get a glimpse of His glorious light on earth through His vessels, like yourself! You may never know how much much that touched my heart and I’m sure my husbands when he reads this!
    Thank You!
    God bless you and yours!

    • Jeanette, You are such a kind encourager. We have been praying for you and your family after the loss of Bob’s sister this week. May He lead you through it into brighter skies ahead:). God bless!

  3. Terri, you are an amazing teacher! As a “toddler in Christ”, just beginning my journey, every time I read a post or hear a talk by you, my life is enriched immensely! This one made my monitor blurry! I’ll never look at a cockroach the same way again! I pray I can be as good a friend as you are to your friends, and with your example, I have a good chance to be one! God Bless you always!

  4. Thanks for the cry, Terri! Oh my gosh, the pain of having to say goodbye to a young woman/friend way too early is so incredibly difficult. I love that you were God’s angel to bring her comfort. The most difficult time in my life was when Haidyn was battling leukemia and I said often that Angels walk among us. A kind gesture felt like a warm hug on the hardest days. You were Diana’s angel, sent by God to wrap her in love and bring comfort on her hardest days. May YOU find comfort(even now as you think of her) in knowing you made a difference. God bless! – Kenna

    • Thanks, Kenna! I believe Diana had many “angels” much more impactful than myself around her, including her husband, sisters, her mom, dad, Cam’s family, and of course, Sheri. However, we would all tell you what an impact Diana had on our own lives – the way she lived and the way she died. To God be the glory! (That’s the way Diana would want it 🙂 )

  5. Very touching story. I am grateful for your continual reminding, to be nice. There are so many struggles in life, and we really have no idea what is going on around us.
    You are an excellent writer Terri! What a gift. Thanks so much,
    God Bless,

  6. Wonderful Terri! Tears flowing and memories flood my mind of watching my own mother pass away way too early from cancer, of watching my best friend lose her husband to Lukemia way too early, watching another friend walk away after announcing to thousands at a convention she would undergo brain surgery in just hours and so many other “cockroach” incidents. It’s during these times that God seems to send his angels to let me know “I will never leave nor forsake you”. It’s in the darkest moments that he seems to allow his light to shine through his earthly angels.

    Thanks for writing and reminding!

  7. This Blog is amazing. Diana was a good friend of mine. You Were such an inspiration to her too, Terri. Its amazing how many times I find my self grumbling about things that won’t matter a year from now, but am reminded of Diana’s journey and my problems seem to dissipate. Thank you for your amazing blogs! Your transparency encourages me to grow!
    God Bless – Alaysha

  8. Terri, thank you!!! I too had a very blurry screen as I read your post today. You truly do have an amazing way of reaching in and touching my life. God is good all the time. We may not understand His purpose…but we can be assured it is for our good. You inspire me more than words can say…there are beautiful windmills in Holland and I am going to dance!!!
    God Bless You and your family.

  9. As usual your posts are wonderful lessons and encouraging. Thanks for being a warrior for God. I am grateful to be blessed by what you share.


  10. Thanks for sharing. My heart is deeply saddened for her family. But have great Joy in knowing that she is home with our Heavenly Father. She sounded like such a courageous women.

  11. Wow Terri, this story hit me pretty hard. You changed Diana’s life and her legacy lives on through your story. I needed to read this today – thank you for being a beacon of light in such a dark world. May we always go back to Diana’s story of the cockroaches to remind us there is a purpose for everything.

  12. Thank you so much for including me on your beautiful post….I haven’t cried this much since I would lay in bed with Diana and watch her silent battle with her failing body. Yet her spirit was so there… I witnessed my brother whisper your words… Full face reaction!! She was still there…still hanging on to your encouragement! Thank you for being her role model … We all benefited !! With excitement to see OUR sister again,I’ll anxiously await. ~Brooke Hummell

  13. Terri,
    Thank you for that. It is a great reminder that the Lord is the only one who strengthens us in this earthly world for times of struggle, and its through those struggles that he does strengthen us. It reminded me of my great grandmother. Psalm 41:1-3 1.Blessed is he who has reguard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. 2.The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. 3.The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.
    The Lord has fully restored Diana, and given her eternal life.
    I lost my great grandmother about four months ago and until I went to God with my woes and pain, I could not keep composure around her. After I prayed to God about it and left it all up to Him, I felt strengthened and grateful that she had been saved. I knew that where she was going was beyond my comprehension but fulfilling in the same sense. I know that one day we will be reunited in His Kingdom!
    God is Great!
    Jeremy Pethke

  14. Terri, my mama encouraged me to read this today and she also warned me I would cry. I did ok until I got to the part of Diana’s age.
    My sister Cassie passed unexpectedly January 19th at age 27 and God has been extremely faithful where I haven’t been. We often sing In Christ Alone at Baptist Tabernacle in Kenosha, WI and we sang it at two of Cassie’s memorials. Your strength at Jackie’s funeral after the recent loss of your brother is an inspiration. Watching via simulcast with my parents as the congregation sang In Christ alone was a soothing balm to my heartache. So many Christian leaders are lost in semantics while you and the other LIFE Leadership PC are serving for the glory of God. Thanks for blogging and reminding us that belly laughs are terrific medicine. Honored to be part of Stealth CIA and thrilled to see where Chris, Rob, and the Policy Council lead us by God’s grace alone. God bless.

    • I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your sister. Holidays have a way of reminding us of those we have lost and miss dearly, yet Today, Easter, is such a wonderful reminder that death has lost its sting! Thank you for your encouraging words! Blessings, Terri

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