"Whatever it takes, God, bring my loved one to You." I prayed so reluctanly, knowing the heartache that ushered me into a relationship with Christ.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

Yet, as I watched loved ones walk farther and farther from Jesus, my heart ached. My fear of them spending eternity in pain exceeded my fear of them enduring pain now.

One day, as I prayed, "whatever" for a family member, God opened my eyes to a different possibility: "Are you willing for 'whatever' if an obvious and difficult struggle happens in 'your' life? If I allow them to see you handle trials with faith, and with an assurance of love--because you know Jesus?

If I prayed reluctantly before, I'm even slower now. What if I fail the test?

Yet, when the fear of someone I love spending eternity without Jesus exceeds the fear of what I might go through, I pray. "Yes, God. Whatever it takes."

I remind myself that God loves them and loves me. He will not allow any more pain than is absolutely necessary. And what God allows is not a random experiment. He knows the outcome. I can be strong and courageous because He is with me, and with my loved one.