Sunday, May 24, 2015

when all you can do is pray

This morning I woke to little girls giggling across the hall.

Yesterday was Lucy's birthday and we surprised her by arranging for her best friend from North Carolina to come and spend the night.  She couldn't have been more excited to see her.

It's been big celebration around our house this weekend and I was laying in bed feeling grateful for my little family {plus one} all snuggled in happy and healthy around me.

When I finally got up I grabbed my phone to check the time and noticed an email from a friend.  The subject line indicated a prayer need so I broke my Sunday morning rule of no phone use and opened it.  With every word I read my heart broke open.

A friend and his wife had been in a car accident.  Although they had sustained minor injuries, she had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.  The baby was in critical condition.  And then, worst of all, their 2 year old son had not survived.

I dropped to my knees on my kitchen floor and wept.  I wanted to pray for them but for a moment all I could do was grieve.  How can you wake up one morning with giggling across the hall and then the next - silence?

With my hands open on my lap I offered them all up to God.  I don't know exactly what they need and I can't begin to imagine exactly how they feel but God does, and can.  I always find such comfort in his greatness.  And so I just kept praying for the greatness of Him to overshadow the greatness of their grief.  I pleaded that they would find him in very real and tangible ways deep in the middle of this darkness.  I know he is near to the broken-hearted and so he is there, with them.

I don't know why I'm showing up at the keyboard this morning because really - I have no words.

That family, like my own, loves and believes in Jesus.
That family, like my own, has committed their lives to serving and following Him.
But here's the thing.
Loving and following Jesus doesn't mean that you don't still live difficult days and endure devastating blows.
It doesn't mean that you avoid the excruciating pain that comes with the loss of your child.

What it does mean is that you are held.
As we cry until our eyes burn
and ask 'why?'
and plunge into despair
and wonder if we will ever be happy again,
we are not alone.
We are wrapped up in the arms of a loving God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
We are wrapped up in the faint hope that restoration and redemption will come.
We are wrapped up in the peace that comes from knowing that God will bring about what is best for those who love and surrender their lives to him.

And we are wrapped up in the prayers of those who love and believe all of that for us in the moments when we have a hard time believing it for ourselves.

There was a time in my life when I prayed half-heartedly and from a place of ritual more than relationship.
Now I pray like it's my job.  And, really, it is.
I pray like my words are weapons wielded in the middle of battle.  And, really, they are.
I pray like I'm a messy, desperate person.  And, really, I am.

It could have been my child.  It could be my child.  I know it's so hard for any of us to imagine, but ignoring reality doesn't make us immune to it.

In the despair I've faced in the past and the despair I will most certainly face in the future there is one thing I count on...
When the collective prayers of God's people come together a strong, giant web of love is formed to lift our weary, broken, grief-stricken spirits to the One who will hold and heal us.

So if you're feeling helpless in 'just praying' for a friend today, remember this -
it's your job
it's your weapon
it's okay if it's messy and desperate
because every moment spent
and ever word spoken
matters more than you know.