Sometimes praying is fearsome.
Huh? “Isn’t prayer supposed to be comforting…you know ease our burdens?” you may ask.
Well that is most often the case. After all, we know that God is good. He knows our struggles and our needs. We are told to “cast our cares on Him for He cares for us.”(1 Peter 5:7) But then there is this: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I remember reciting this in school every day (when prayer in school was still a thing). Heard it intoned at many a funeral. Of course, it is Scripture, and therefore it is right and true; but, do we realize the full import of that phrase?
When my cl boy was only two weeks old, he contracted RSV, a respiratory virus that, in most children and adults, manifests itself in little more than the average cold. For my baby boy it was far more serious.
The ordeal started with a minor rattle as he breathed, but he was cleared at his checkup. Within a couple of days, however, I was up through the night with him, worrying that it had become worse. By morning he was running a temperature. I immediatedly got him ready for a trip into emerg. We lived near a small town, so our wait was not too long. As I spoke to the triage nurse, she looked at me with that, “Ah, a worried new mom,” look and said as much to me. I explained that he was, in fact, my sixth child, he was two weeks old and had a fever. She quickly jumped into action and the doctor saw him instantly. The next thing I knew, they were telling me that they are not equipped to deal with infants and I must travel to the city that was close to an hour away without delay, and a pediatrician would await us there. My husband met me en route and together we worriedly made our way to the hospital.
Our cl boy was admitted and put into isolation. His condition worsened rapidly at this point. His breathing became quite laboured and he was repeatedly suctioned as he choked on the mucus blocking his airway. Even with heavy doses of Ventolin, he did not improve. He had Ventolin tremors. He was lethargic. He ate very little. His attacks became more frequent and he turned not just blue but almost black as he struggled for breath. I was terrified.
My family at home, and our extended family and friends as well, prayed for our little one. My husband and I prayed for our little one as we held each other. At one point I said to my Love with tears streaming down my face, ” I know I’m supposed to pray for God’s will to be done, but I just want him to be better!”
The situation did not improve and finally, about a week later, the doctor told us there was nothing else they could do for him there. He was becoming dehydrated as he was unable to nurse easily. The nursing staff prepared our sweet little boy for an ambulance ride to a bigger teaching hospital with specialized paediatric staff.
I paced the hallway as they attempted to insert an IV. The nurses felt it would be better if I left the room while my little one shrieked as they poked and prodded futilely. I was not physically present with him, but I felt my heart tear in two with the sound of his torment, crying along with him, screaming inside, praying, begging God, demanding even. They finally gave up the fight and we boarded the ambulance, my baby without his IV.
My Love met us at the next hospital and the paediatric staff were there waiting. They inserted an IV with no trouble and we immediately felt a mesure of relief. He was in good hands. Our baby was put in a unit with a nurse for just him and one other for around the clock observation. He was hooked up to a myriad of monitors, oxygen, and wires went every which way. We were not allowed in the room except for feeding visits. Thankfully, the hospital had an area with rooms for family of patients in such situations.
I spent a great deal of time reading my Bible and praying during those days. In the first week it was with my boy snuggled in my arms, relishing his closeness and whispering to him to get well because his momma loved him, and did not want to let him go. Again, I considered that I was probably supposed to ask God’s will to be done, but if I prayed it, at that point I would not have meant it. I realized, too, that He knew my heart. I would not be fooling Him with my pious prayers. “Heal my baby!” I cried out over and over again. I only wanted His will if it aligned with mine.
Our little one stayed in the step down unit for a few days then, (praise the Lord!) moved into a regular room for the remainder of another week. I missed my children at home and wanted to gather them close to me in a tight group hug, assuring them that their littlest brother would be fine. Everything would be fine. For their sake and for mine.
My Love, poor man, drove back and forth (more than two hours each way at this point) splitting his time, that he might be there for me and our baby and also for our children at home. I am ever so thankful for this dear man. He was frightened, too, but he had many people who needed him to be strong and reassuring. He ran the roads at a dizzying pace and no doubt with little sleep, without thought for himself.
Our little one continued to improve, although he had a few scary episodes even after we got home. The first one was serious enough that he was re-admitted into hospital for a few more days. Today, he is none the worse for wear due to his ordeal.
All this to say, it is a serious matter to say, “Your will be done.” It should not be said lightly, without thought, flippantly. God will not be deceived. He knows our hearts. He knows our desires. He knows when we’re angry. He knows when we’re afraid. He knows…so tell Him how you really feel. He wants to help us through it. Sometimes we need to rail a little before we can let it go and give it to God.
Some things are easy to willingly relinquish to His plans. Some things are closer to our hearts and we hold on just a little tighter at the mere thought of surrendering it to His will.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying I was right in my attitude. I am not saying don’t ask for His will to be done. Of course, He, being an all-knowing God, knows the story of each life from beginning to end. He knows what is best, even when we don’t think we could bear it. I also believe that He listens to our prayers, cares about our feelings and will take all of this into account. We are told that the ‘effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.’ (James 5:16) It is a great mystery, but, it is guaranteed He is faithful and can be trusted in every situation.
As He continues His work in me, making me more like His dear Son, my hope is that I can come to Him in prayer for anything and honestly say, “Your will be done.” Every. Single. Time.
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