It's several days past the allotted number of days deemed normal for sickness to stick around. Day after day I've woken up, hoping today will be the day my baby is better, only to discover the ache deepening in my stomach because she's not. The heaviness of the mystery weighs on my helplessness. What is wrong? Why isn't she recovering?
It's getting uncomfortable, this position of helplessness. This awareness of limitation to do anything but hold and care and be there for my daughter. This awareness of need that I have no power to meet. Her sickness, her lack of recovery, it's humbling me, making me desperate.
I put her down for a nap and head straight for my bedroom, barely reaching the safety of closed doors before the tears rush down my cheeks. These prayers are noticeably different. Earlier this week, I had asked the Lord for her health in the subtle confidence that she'd be better by now. But she's not, and I'm raw. Not with bitterness, but brokenness. I pray with intense vulnerability, with a renewed conviction that unless the Lord restores her, she will not recover.
My mind drifts to other families in prayer. How those with chronic illness must teeter between vulnerability and hopelessness. How parents whose children have cancer or special needs find these closed doors and these tears and these prayers more than they likely ever wanted to.
This poverty of spirit takes me to a future scene I don't want to see. As I pray, I travel to a time where my heart is broken again, my body bent down again over the way a different kind of sickness has enslaved her. Where her sin nature leads her to choose the way of sin over the way of God, and the grip of it keeps my daughter from experiencing life as it was meant to be lived. Heaving breaths join in with these hot tears as I consider once again how helpless I'll be to do anything but love her, care for her, shepherd her, and be there for her.
I know she'll experience this kind of enslaving power of sin. I know it to be true from my own experience, from Scripture itself, but I see it in new light: as a parent.
Another sight emerges: a dance I'll be living in this role. This dance between rest in the limits of my calling and desperation for God to show up. Because my calling has to do with the flesh of my flesh, the baby I birthed from my womb. The one I delight in and love more than my imagination ever let me conceive. Yet the one I'm powerless to shield from the effects of the Fall.
I sense God asking me to get acquainted with this place, this position of humility and weakness that gives me eyes to see. Because this is the place where prayer gets serious. Where the realization settles that unless God chooses to intervene and redeem, nothing else can remedy any situation. I'm newly awakened to the truth that man does not live by bread alone—by medicine alone, by time alone, by love alone—but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Prayer positions me to see all these things—the depth of my helplessness, the scariness of the uncontrollable and harmful effects of the Fall, the roads I'll likely travel in God's providence, the acquaintance with grief I may encounter. But this position of lowliness postures me for another sight—one that will sustain me, comfort me, relieve me, even while I wait in tension—the sight of God Himself.
Prayer holds me fast, lest I be overwhelmed to the point of despair. Prayer confirms the reality that answers can never deliver us from the grips of anxiety. Control can never save us from the overwhelm of grief. Perfect performance can never appease the restlessness of our hearts. Prayer teaches us that we're vulnerable, that we're human. That what we need chiefly is interaction with another person: the Person of God.
I cave over as I realize more fully the compassion that brought forth my own deliverance. A Father broken over the sickness of sin inhibiting His creation from the life He breathed into them. A Father moved by love to seek their welfare, to see them restored to that life. A Father with the power to right all wrong, redeem all harm, resurrect all death. And I'm nearly undone as I remember the method He enlisted to rescue me—the affliction of His own Son.
Father, thank You for Your unfathomable mercy. Would You pour it out once again on this desperate mama and her beloved child?