Back when I was first pregnant with Josh we went to stay with friends in Waterloo for the night. That night, I had a terrible nightmare, one that has quite literally haunted me through out this last three and half years. I was deep in the basements of a hospital, the sub levels if you will, and there was no one there, the halls were dark and empty. I was having an ultra sound and I could see the baby in real colour, like the little guy was on TV and not in a black and white 2D US. He looked up at me, his big eyes sad and scared, his face horrific with a skull like appearance, blood dripping from his mouth, the same mount that was calling ‘Mummy help me’. I woke up then, and didn’t sleep again. That nightmare, looking back, was my first glimpse of trouble for the little child inside of me, the one that we have all come to know and love so much as Joshua. That was the day I began to pray for my baby, and I have not ceased, though at times I seem to not have the words to pray for him, nor the emotional stamina.
The other night in the hospital, when Josh was so angry with me, screaming in his bed for me to go away I sat on my bed begging God to help us, begging him to give Josh rest, to allow me rest. In that prayer, or in the immediate moment after the prayer I had an epiphany. Three moments in the past two weeks I have had moments where I have been lying in bed, crying, begging God to help us. Once, was when Josh was screaming in his bed, his little heart clearly failing, his body tired but his mind wanting to get up and play. I prayed that morning for Josh to know peace, and instead he became louder, more upset, more tears, more screams. The second time was while I was in the hospital with Kaleb, the nurse woke him every hour and we were both beside ourselves we were so tired. I cried out to God that night, for rest for us both, for peace, for help but the nurse got worse, Kaleb’s cries louder and my rest never came. Then the night with Josh, just two nights ago. My cries have gone without answers, and out of nowhere an anger bubbled up in me, so strong that it clutched me. I yelled at God (in my mind so as not to disturb Josh any more than he already was.) Tears and anger and guilt, because for the entirety of Joshua’s life I have been afraid to tell God that I am angry and confused by him, that I don’t understand him, because what if Josh suffers my anger, what if God punishes me by using Josh? (Yeah – crazy I know) That night however I asked him why? Why he didn’t seem to listen to my prayers? Why did he ignore my cries? Why did it seem that whatever I asked for he gave us the opposite?
Now in light of all the answered prayers you are probably wondering why I am such an ungrateful cow?! I would too… however, I was rationalizing it this way. He was listening to your prayers, he was answering you, it was just me that he was ignoring. (No, this is not entirely rational, nor theologically correct as Tim would say). It was how I felt though, but that night, as I lay there talking for the first time in a long time honestly with God, something changed in me. Our nurse came in, hearing Joshua’s cries, and found me upset, she asked if I would like a little break, said she would sit with him for a little while and I could take a walk. I didn’t wait to let her change her mind, I grabbed a sweater and headed out into the night for some air. I walked around the building praying and asking God to help me understand. When I came back to the room about 10 minutes later Josh was fast asleep. I sat on the bed and sighed with relief.
The epiphany I had, was that I was expecting God to do what I want, when I want it. When we found out about Josh’s heart defect my prayers were ‘fix it’. He didn’t do it immediately and I felt betrayed. When we had Josh and he was weeks in the CCCU and I was begging for help, it always seemed that whatever I prayed for the opposite would happen. Always though, in time, I have seen my prayers answered, not in the ways that I would expect or want even at the time but they are answered. Josh is here, alive, that means that prayers have been answered; but what about the little things? What about the little prayers for help in the immediate moment. The baby who won’t stop crying, the screams of an angry little boy, the mother who knows that she needs a few hours sleep to deal with the day to come? Do those prayers seem insignificant to a God who deals with countries at war, child abuse, victims of tragedies, children abandoned by their parents, a parent who has lost a child? Do I have a right to these prayers? This is where I realized that I don’t have any right to them, but by grace, mercy and love he asks me to come to him and share them with him. He asks me to lay my burdens at his feet and leave them there, not just show and tell, but leave them like a gift at the alter. He will take care of them, he will honour all of them and the relationship that allows me to bring them there.
Maybe I needed some of those unanswered little prayers in order for me to have an honest discussion with God, so that when he answered my little prayer that night I would see that he really does care, maybe He is God and maybe I am merely me, and instead of being frustrated and angry about ‘unanswered prayers’ I should just say thank you for the answers I have, and trust that he really does care, that they are all heard and that he will answer them in his timing. It’s not easy to trust in a God I can’t see, it’s not easy to lay it all down for him to see, it’s not easy to feel like my cries go unheard, but I know now that it’s a gift that I can come to him at all. It’s not a right, it’s a mercy, a blessing, a gift that he wants to hear from me at all.