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Divine Disruption Special Broadcast

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2021 7:00 am

Divine Disruption Special Broadcast

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 8, 2021 7:00 am

Dr. Tony Evans’ family has gone through some devastating losses recentlylike the deaths of eight family members in less than two years, one of whom was Tony’s wife, Lois. Join the Evans family in this special lesson as they gather together to discuss how they processed their own grief, how they managed to hold onto hope, and the questions and emotions they faced along the way. Don’t miss this intimate look at what to do when life makes no sense.


A baby in a mom's womb has no idea that it's two inches away from another reality bigger than what it's currently experiencing. Anthony Evans Jr. reflects on a profound truth he came to realize while processing the loss of his mother. This world we're in is comfortable and cozy, but we're two inches away from experiencing a whole other thing that is so much bigger than where we are right now. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative.

Everyone goes through times when it seems like life makes no sense, when we question God and wonder what in the world He's doing and why so many bad things are happening to us and to those around us. Dr. Evans and his immediate family have recently found themselves wrestling with those same questions. They've gone through the tumultuous experience of personally confronting cancer and other challenging medical situations, while also losing eight loved ones in less than two years' time, including the devastating passing of Lois Evans on the final day of 2019. One of her desires was for the family to work on a collaborative project, and they've done just that, putting together a book focusing on how they process their own grief and loss, the questions they've asked, the emotions they've felt, and the solutions and hope they've found. Today the Evans family gathers to discuss the thoughts and struggles they experienced, while putting together their new book called Divine Disruption, holding onto faith when life breaks your heart.

Let's listen in as Dr. Evans gets us started. This is the first. This is the first time I have had all four of my children with me to share with you, our friends.

I have my oldest daughter, Crystal, my second, Priscilla, my third, Anthony Jr., and the baby of the family, Jonathan. And we are here for a very special reason, because we've been collaborating on a very special and very personal project. It's called Divine Disruption. When God intervenes in your affairs, or life intervenes in your affairs, and you need God at a whole other level. And I know many of you, even coming through this season we've been through, have had to go through your share of those kinds of trials. This was the reality of life that we faced, and that you faced, and that we all need to face together.

So I'm just glad to have all of you here. And I guess a great opening question is, just before we get into some of the specifics, as you look at the overall journey we've been through, what are some of y'all's reactions, some of your just rote feelings and thoughts about the pain of the problem that we have gone through, and some perspectives that you have? Well, I think for me it's just a lot of hurt and disappointment. I just felt disappointed in God, specifically with Mommy, but everything that has been going on. But obviously Mommy, the closest for me, losing my mom, and all of the prayer, all of the quoting God's Word back in His face, going back to your sermons and saying, okay, this is what Dad said.

Let's do it this way. This is what the Word says. And you feel like you're trying to do everything right. You're trying to run the race as hard as you can for my mom, but also because wanting to see God display Himself in a mighty way for a testimony. You know, a lot of people are afraid to admit that, that they can get emotionally disappointed with God or confused by God. I mean, what did Habakkuk say? Well, how long, God, are we going to do this, and why are we doing this?

And there are many questions in the Bible about how God is doing what He's doing, why He's doing it, how it got done, and was it fair, and is there justice with God, and those questions. And sometimes you can't just wish them away, because they just come to your mind due to your circumstances. And that's why you have to have a faith deeper than your feelings, because when your feelings take over, they can make your faith fly out of the window.

That's right. My perspective was the same as Jonathan's. Being the most emotional of the kids, I tell everybody that just right off the bat, I'm the one who feels the most. I had to really learn how to hold onto my faith in a moment like that, where you're believing what you've read, you're knowing that God can come through, and He's deciding not to. Through all this, what I've experienced is God holding onto me in a way that I would have never experienced otherwise. And I don't want to go through this ever again.

I want all of our family members back. But if you read the instruction manual in your car, and you hear about the safety features, and how the seat belts work, and how the airbags work, that's one thing. But skidding, or slamming on the brakes, or getting into a wreck, and the seat belt holding you back, and airbags coming out, and you realize you still went through the wreck, but you're realizing that that manual actually performed the way that it said it was going to. Yeah, it worked. So, yes, I felt the seat belt of His Word holding me in my seat when I could have gone flying through the windshield. I needed to feel that.

Well, where did you learn to illustrate like that? No, I'm just kidding. Okay. Girls, anything that you want to say? Well, I would echo exactly what Jonathan and Anthony just said. Those were the two things that were coming to my mind. The first thing was that you can ask your questions without questioning the character of God. And so I appreciate that Job or Habakkuk, we can look at them and see that God allowed them to ponder, and to wonder, and to express discouragement. And you don't find a God who condemns them for those questions, but rather He meets them where they are, and He reminds them, I'm still who I said I am.

I'm still going to do what I said I was going to do. So I felt through all of this very grateful for a God who lets us be human. He knows we're human. The flip side of that is like Anthony said, I have never seen such tangible proof of the Holy Spirit's presence as I have in the past couple of years. So for those who don't know, we've literally lost, including my mother-in-law who passed away six months after mom, we've lost eight family members, eight. And it was like back to back stuff that just kept happening.

And so of course, what you expressed, Jon Jon is true. Like, of course, we're going to say, God, what, what is this? But then the flip side is you look back and go, how are we able to still have moments of levity in that or get a good night's sleep or hold food down in our stomachs, you know, preach a day after or dad still preaching on Sundays or us still parenting our kids, you know, getting up out of bed and putting clothes on. There are some people who don't know the hope that Jesus offers and the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit, that one of the things that hit our family could hit them and they can't, they can't function. So apart from the Holy Spirit of God's strengthening us, that's what that reminded me of, that we can get up, put clothes on, sleep at night, eat food during the day, parent our children, and still put one foot in front of the other. That to me was proof that the Holy Spirit is who he says that he is. And that's the thing is that I had moments where I was discounting that. You just know how you feel and what you're going through, but you're not thinking about even in that the Spirit of God is holding you from drowning, but you don't think about it because all you're thinking about is the moment, what you're going through, who's hurt, the pain.

Like people say, the one set of footprints in the sand is God carrying you. You know, you made a great statement because a lot of people don't know the difference between asking God a question and questioning God. Those are not the same thing.

And if you conflate them to be the same thing, then you wind up feeling guilty about a legitimate question. It's okay to ask God why. It's not okay to challenge God, okay, with the why.

And so learning that distinction is very important because that frees you up to be honest with God and not try to hide what's really going on inside, which He already knows anyway. One of the ways that I had to learn how to experience God's mercy is to look for His mercy in unexpected places. One of the things that I haven't really voiced that much is me asking God for mercy.

We went on that trip in August and got a little place together and I prayed. We prayed and had communion together and I prayed, God, show us mercy. I literally felt like somebody was like the game you played when little he was bending my wrist back and breaking my knuckles. And I was like, mercy, mercy.

You remember that game? I felt like that's what God was allowing to happen. Now in hindsight, as much as I want our mother here, if He was going to choose to take her home, which He did, I found mercy in the fact that He took her before the pandemic hit. Now that's finding mercy in a crevice. Like if you have to look that hard for it, that's finding it under a rock. Those moments and the peace that He gave me, because I'm the one who will give up on hope real quick, His mercy, I found it in very unique places.

And I think a lot of times when you're trying to hold on to faith through disruptions, that's what you have to do. Dad, I feel like your audience, just because we're here with everyone, I feel like I want to ask you as your son and as your kids, how are you doing? Like we know Tony Evans, the preacher, can pull it together and give a sermon at any time, but how are you doing? I say on a scale from one to ten, I ask him this all the time.

He does. On a scale from one to ten, how are you doing? Depends on when you ask me, because some days are good and strong and other days are weak and dragging. You know, when you're in those quiet moments, when the house is quiet, nobody's there to greet you, nobody's in the space that you're used to, you can get a little down. Well, when you're flooded with memories, so people remind you, even when they give condolences, they're triggers that can take you from what you're focusing on then to the things that bring you memories or hurts or losses. All of that affects the number that I can give, you know, but there's a rollercoaster ride, you know, and you keep plowing forward, but there are challenges and then there are times of great memories and celebrations as well. I think what made that time remarkably difficult, on top of the fact that we lost Mommy and on top of the fact that there were multiple people in our family who passed away, was that all of those people were connected to you.

Did you personally feel like, even though it's life and losing your loved ones is a part of life, did you feel ever, or do you even feel now, that the way God allowed things to play out was slightly unfair? You know, I did have the question, why? Why this? Why now?

Why this much? But I never questioned God. My biblical beliefs had to kick in, particularly Isaiah 40, when they were asking, you know, this is not fair in Isaiah 40.

Where's the justice due me? And then God says, okay, you got to look at me, because if you look at your circumstances, I'm the everlasting God, I'm the Creator, and you're gonna have to look at me for new strength, because the problem with the question, why, is it often doesn't get an answer. In your case, are you saying that the question did not get an answer?

Yeah. I can't answer the question, why this? Why this now? Why there wasn't supernatural healing when there were things that indicated. When we talk about the doctor we met at the right time, when we talk about this new medication that had come out and medicinal treatment, when we talk about all of these details, it's staggering to think that it wasn't going to be reversed.

I had to appeal to what I knew to be true about God while still asking questions along the way. Dr. Evans, sharing some of the struggle he's faced with reconciling his desires with God's will following the recent passing of his wife, Lois, will rejoin the Evans family for more of their reflections in just a moment. The project that pulled everyone together today is a collaborative book they've written that explores the raw emotions they felt and the tough questions they asked following Lois' death. In it, they discuss ways to keep your faith from crumbling and how to keep moving forward when grief and pain make it hard to even breathe.

It's called Divine Disruption, Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart. And we'd like to send you a copy as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station. Along with it, we'll send you CDs or access to digital downloads of all seven parts of our current Living with Loss series, including today's roundtable conversation with the Evans family. Both of these resources are yours with our thanks when you make a donation online at Or call our Resource Center day or night at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. We'll return to today's conversation right after this. Jesus never traveled more than 300 miles from the place he was born, yet his life has changed the world. He never wrote a song, yet more songs have been written about him than any other person in the world. And in his brand new film, Journey with Jesus, Dr. Evans and family take you to the Holy Land and explore just what made Jesus' life so remarkable and so impactful.

This feature-length film is coming to select theaters in November, so visit to learn more and find out where it will be showing near you. The window between my father passing and my wife passing was about a month, a gap between those. So I was flying to Baltimore to care for my father, flying back here with, of course, y'all helping me to care for your mom. But two things helped me within that. My father's strong faith and your mom's strong faith.

Yes. It definitely was the most trying time and still repercussions of that time continue, but I'm bolstered. I mean, your mom challenged me to keep preaching the Word in spite of the illnesses she was going through. It was a very spiritual time in a very painful situation. One of the very unique things about this project in this book is that you've had five different perspectives from a nuclear family. So since we're here, I would love to hear how you, the byline of this book, is holding on to faith when life has broken your heart. What are the ways specific to you, Jonathan, because we're all four so different that you have held on to faith in spite of all the loss?

And I'd love to just go around and hear. It's the faith of my family that I come from. Having Daddy and Mommy teaching me my whole life and then having you, my siblings, being able to share how you feel, but your faith and hope through it all has really helped gird me up because I didn't have to go through it and do it by myself. I think Mommy's funeral was a big deal. The celebration of her life in her going home to be with the Lord was done well and it was well attended in person and online. And I say that because as beautiful as Mommy was and as much pride as she took in her appearance and how she showed up anywhere, she showed up looking like a million dollars.

That's true. She made it her business to do a lot of foundational work in a lot of places. She was very intentional in supporting Daddy and ministry and then also supporting us. I think about the fact that across the mantle in our home, it was a big deal to her to have something from each one of us up on the mantle.

And so to have the opportunity to celebrate her life well, to be matched how well she lived her life. And I say all that because holding on to faith is the idea that this is not all there is. And that after we're gone, there is more celebration. There is more to be celebrated.

There are ripple effects that will go on from generation to generation. So her example makes me remember that the feeling of right now is no match for the celebration of the decisions that you make and the outcome, the ripple effects of those decisions over the lifetime. I think for me, holding onto faith has meant that even when I can't see what the ripple effect is, what the celebration is, what the outcome is, what the trophies are that the faithfulness when you can't see is what counts.

That's great. I think for me holding onto hope, what encouraged me most in that is my children probably. I realize as a child of mom and dad, that the way I've watched them walk through our whole lives with a commitment and a consistency and an integrity. They weren't different people at church than they were at home. I want to have that same impact on my kids.

I want them to know that the same God I've been telling them about and teaching them about and rearing them to honor that if I trusted him when everything was good, I want them to be able to say, and let me tell you grandchildren of Priscilla Shire, that your grandmother still honored God even when stuff was really hard. Wow. For me, I had to come to a pivotal point in my life and in my faith where I had to ask myself, do you believe what you say you believe or not? I got that far.

That's the bottom line. I got that far. Yeah, because being on a stage and singing is one thought, but just in general, I had to ask myself, do you believe what you're singing or not? When I made that decision and said, yes, I do believe this and I believe that God can hold me through this, then I had to start acting like I believe what I'm saying. So if she's fine and she's enjoying the presence of Jesus and we're not far from her, I really look, this is, I don't want to talk too much because I know people want to hear you talk, Daddy. You have my name.

That's true. And I'm the only one. No, I really do believe our experience, like a baby in a mom's womb has no idea that it's comfortable and cozy and has no idea that it's two inches away from another reality that's so much bigger than what it's currently experiencing. Mommy has gone on to that new reality and I feel like, yeah, our world, this world we're in is comfortable and cozy, but we're two inches away from experiencing a whole other thing that is so much bigger than where we are right now. And when I think about us being in the womb of earth and being cozy and, but what God's intention for us is, is to be on this other side where he has so much more for us.

And it's just two inches away. Like right through this is this whole other experience and mommy's there and it's that close. I feel like when I decided to believe what I believe, I know that my mom is close. I know and I feel and I experienced her close and that has how I've held onto hope. And that's God's mercy because I was the one to be like, I am done.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But this experience in faith has, has taken a load off in so many different areas because I just decided I believe fully and not just when it's easy. Anthony Evans Jr. along with his brother, sisters and father sharing their personal reflections in processing the recent profound losses in their lives. Priscilla and Dr. Evans will share one final thought with us when we return to their conversation in just a moment.

Before we do that, I wanted to let you know that for the purposes of time, we had to edit out a portion of today's discussion. If you'd like to hear the entire conversation, the full-length version is available as a part of our current seven-part series, Living with Loss. As I mentioned earlier, the entire series is yours with our thanks along with the divine disruption book you've been hearing about today when you make a contribution to keep this listener-supported ministry coming your way. Just visit where you can make a donation, request the Living with Loss package and instantly download the messages from this series.

You can also of course get them on CD if more convenient. Again, just visit to find out more or give us a call any time of the day or night at 1-800-800-3222 where one of our helpful team members is ready to assist with your request. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Well, tomorrow we'll continue our look into grief and living with loss as we participate in another Evans family discussion. This one recorded just a single day after the sudden and tragic loss of a young mother and much-loved family member, Winter Pitts.

Right now though, Priscilla is back with this recollection. There's this moment we were all around mom. We were in their bedroom.

It was clear that these were going to be her last couple of hours and there we were just the six of us. Mom was laying in my lap. Anthony's on one side, Crystal's on one side and dad's laying right next to her and we're all around her like a cocoon and I looked over at dad and dad you were rubbing mommy's hand.

She wasn't conscious at this point. You're rubbing your hand. We were playing worship music and you were reading Psalm 91. You were just reading it. You weren't talking. You weren't trying to help everybody.

You weren't angry. You were just reading Psalm 91. Sometimes you just go, I'm going to honor God in this moment.

I don't know what that looks like. I don't know why this is happening, but what can I do in this moment to just release it to God and then trust Him? You literally at that point realized I cannot do anything else.

And so all you did was open up the Bible and start reading Psalm 91. The toughest statement I had to make in that moment was to say, not my will but thy will be done. That's a hard thing to say when the will is not what you want. Certain things God is going to do because God is going to do it. There are no conditions tied to it. It's unconditional.

But then there's certain things that are conditional. He will only do it when we've done our part, prayer, obedience, whatever it is. God took this out of our hands. We had prayed. We've been to the doctor.

We tried every new medication. There was no stone to our knowledge unturned. And she had to be the most prayed for woman in America or the world at that point. So everything that could be done to our knowledge was done. So I had to resolve to the fact that this was God's unconditional will. Because if it was conditional, we met the conditions. We were extra credit. So this was His unconditional will. And we had to resolve ourselves to that and still pray and praise and trust God in spite of it. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-26 09:03:18 / 2023-07-26 09:13:01 / 10

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