I’ve been praying for a precious little girl. Bree was born critically ill, and at just 8 months old, she continues to battle a host of horrific health issues; issues that could have snuffed out her young life several times over. Yet she continues to battle.
So I pray.
My Surface Prayer
Initially, my prayers went something like this…
“Father God, I lift this little baby up to you. I ask for comfort and freedom from pain. I pray for wisdom for the doctors; that every decision made would be in her best interests, and that the work of their hands would bring healing and restoration. We know you are the Almighty Healer, Lord, and we believe in miracles. Today, we ask for a miracle…”
Fairly standard, perhaps a little generic, but God knows my heart and knows what I want. My prayer doesn’t have to be fancy or long. Just genuine. I’ve prayed for a LOT of sick people and it’s hard to muster up new ‘material’ each time.
Her Sweet Face Was A Game Changer
The other day I saw a picture of Bree. She was clearly in a hospital setting, connected to tubes and stuff. I had to look away. I’m ashamed to admit, but it was easier when she was just a name. A name and a face? That was far more difficult. Even though I tried to fight it, Bree had slipped below the surface of my heart.
Why Sign Up For Pain?
So what’s the big deal? If God knows my heart, must I allow it to be ripped out of my chest for Him to hear me? Must I cry out in anguish for my prayer to be taken seriously? Or answered? Must I feel pain for pain to be healed?
I don’t believe God works that way, but I do believe there’s a good reason to feel…and cry out…and let our guard down.
The Method to My Avoidance
I’ve got avoidance down to a science. Most times I can stifle a cry with the best of them. I put feelings into little boxes in my head and heart, and IF and WHEN I decide to visit that box, I’ll deal with them, but until that point, they are completely off limits. I’m the boss. I decide when and where.
Why is it easier to avoid ‘feeling’ for Bree? I’ve got more than one excuse…
My husband and I are blessed with six beautiful grandchildren, all of whom are the picture of health. Those are the faces I want to see. Selfish, I know, but getting down and dirty and really considering Bree’s circumstances would cause unsettling thoughts to spill over to my own grandchildren, and that’s not something I want any part of. Why go there? Best to just look away and pray well-meaning, but surface prayers.
Sometimes there’s just no time to feel. Or cry. Life is busy and anything less than 100% ‘go-time’ is distracting, inefficient, and inconvenient. I think there are many of us that behave this way, we just don’t like to speak it, because then we just might have to deal with it and institute change.
Growing up I thought allowing emotions to overcome you would be construed as a sign of weakness. Stiff upper lip and suck it up was the way to go. NEVER let em’ see ya sweat.
If there’s nothing you can do about it anyway, why bother wrecking your day? Pointless.
And even worse? The ladies will be able to relate to this one. Messing up your mascara is a pain in the neck and no one I know wants any more eye wrinkles than they already have. Crying is NOT good for the complexion.
Unfortunately, even the best of excuses don’t stand up to the dangers.
The Danger In Not Going Deep
So I’ve got the little robot thing going on, methodically keeping it all together for myself and those around me. For the most part, it seems to be working, on the surface at least, but I’m smart enough to know better.
I believe we connect to God and develop a much more meaningful relationship with Him when we allow ourselves to feel deeply. When the struggles of life get us down and the pain is simply too much to bear, He doesn’t want us shouldering it all by ourselves. He doesn’t want us sorting our concerns and hurts into little boxes. Instead, He wants us to bare all, laying our struggles down at the foot of the cross. He wants to scoop us up in His loving embrace and comfort us in our time of need. Leaning on God when we need Him most brings healing, restoration, and most of all, relationship.
Yes, God knows your heart, but allowing yourself to be vulnerable, uninhibited, and naked in His presence, will allow Him to draw you close and keep you there. What a special place to be.
Back to Bree
Driving home the other day, I forced myself to think about Bree. To picture her sweet, chubby face, tubes and all. To think about all the needle pokes she’s had to endure and all the surgeries her little body has been through. She doesn’t understand that all of this is being done for her benefit. All she knows is people are hurting her. SHE’S JUST A BABY, LORD! WHY MUST SHE SUFFER THIS WAY?
I thought about her future. While Bree has proven herself to be a world-class prize fighter, she shouldn’t have to be. Her prognosis is grim. Will she make it to her first birthday? Her second? Her fifth? Will she ever run and play like the other children? Only God knows. So is she supposed to suffer her whole life, not having a normal, joyful childhood experience, only to die at the end of it all? GOD, HOW FAIR IS THIS? IT ISN’T FAIR AT ALL. IT SUCKS!
She has and will will endure more in her short life than I will likely ever experience in the span of my lifetime. WHY HER? WHY NOT ME?
What if? What if one of my grandchildren was born with the same devastating condition. What if I had to sit by their bedside, watching what they were going through, knowing all the while what fate likely waited for them. HOW COULD I HANDLE THAT, LORD? How could I function day in and day out while my spirit was crushed in despair? How could I ever enjoy a second of my life again after witnessing such sadness and devastation. If they couldn’t be happy, I would never be able to either. I just wanted to hold each and every one of my grandchildren right that moment.
Gone was my generic, surface prayer.
I don’t know when I actually started praying or when the tears began to flow, but it didn’t matter now. There was not turning back. I was fully committed and slipped into a place I don’t often allow myself to go. And it hurt. Terribly. Nothing compared to what sweet Bree has endured, but it hurt.
So Now What?
What exactly did I accomplish?
As I tried to focus on the road through all the tears, I prayed, “So now what, Lord? What do you want me to do with this pain?”
“Give it to me, my child. All of it.”
My heart jumped and I knew it was God begging me to bring my suffering to Him. To allow Him to work in my heart and to provide comfort when I needed it most.
I continued to cry out, asking God all the questions that haunted me and begging Him for answers; almost demanding. I’m sure I came off as defiant. And ticked. Nothing God hasn’t heard before. I let it all hang out, complete with runny mascara and wrinkled eyes. It wasn’t pretty but I bet to the Lord it was beautiful. He and I spoke. We had a conversation. And I knew He was there with me, and there with Bree.
And in my moment of despair and heartbreak, I felt inexplicable comfort. And peace for Bree.
She was still sick. Her prognosis still grim. But God was with her and He had a perfect plan and purpose for her life. No matter what, she was going to be okay. More than okay.
I may not have had each specific question answered, but they didn’t have to be. God’s presence was so powerful and so very good; He made sure I had exactly what I needed.
The Danger of Surface Prayers? Not allowing God to show Himself to you and preventing Him from working in your life are detrimental, but missing out on the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the biggest mistake of all.
I’m not saying it will always be easy, or fair, or joyful, but I can reassure you that it will always be worth it.
Do yourself a favor, please, and pray for Bree. Thank you everyone!