My husband asked me recently if I've ever been angry with God. It only took me a few seconds to answer, "Yes—when my dad died." His question flooded my emotions with the same anger I felt years ago that I still have to work through occasionally.
When I became a Christian as a teenager, the person who led me to Christ told me to pray for my parents, since they didn't know God. I threw myself passionately into that task. I clung to verses such as 1 John 5:14-15, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."
I reasoned that it's certainly God's will that my parents come to Christ, so I never doubted that it would happen. I thought that I may have been placed in this family just so I could pray for them. I gained courage from hearing testimonies time after time of someone who prayed for a loved one for years and finally saw a remarkable conversion. I never heard anyone speak of praying for a loved one who didn't receive Christ.
I had a great relationship with my father. He was 42 when I was born and had raised four other children by the time I'd come along, so he'd mellowed and appreciated the chance to parent again. He was the kind of dad most girls dream of. He taught me to dance and ice skate, sang me songs, and quoted me poetry. We were very much alike in personality, so we understood each other's humor, loved to debate every subject under the sun, and were always ready for a new adventure (much to my poor, loved-to-stay-at-home mother's chagrin). I adored my dad.1