When hundreds of high school girls are stolen in Nigeria. When a ferry sinks full of hundreds more young ones in S. Korea. When a woman gleefully films the murder of her unborn baby, covering all that carnage with incongruent smiles. When a plane disappears right out of the sky and there are no answers and not a scrap to tell the story. When a baby passes out of this life before even a day has passed, we all hold our breath.
Do you feel the trembling darkness, how it climbs up the throat and chokes us? How we shake our heads in a sort of numb muteness and how any words we try to wrap around the horror seem obscenely plastic and useless?
Reuben fell through the air. I’d been ready to catch him coming down the slide from the tree house in Chile, when inexplicably he turned and ran off the back side. His head struck a car battery and his eyes rolled back and his body went limp while my whole soul howled “NO!”. I can’t even type this without my heart constricting tight and my shoulders bunch painfully in remembered horror.
Emergency room. Scans. Throwing up blood. More scans. Emergency surgery to remove crushed bone and put in a ceramic plate. You can’t stay with him, ma’am. Dustin pulling me out of the room crying, seeing my baby on that big bed with all those tubes and him crying for me, so scared. Oh, God.
There was a moment there, on the floor outside the operating room, when it came to me really clear, that I’d love God even if He took my son home. But I cried and sang out my deepest mother’s prayer and pleaded for his life, singing, “Give me back my son”. Give him back to me, oh, please.
The next day I was allowed at his side and was rewarded with a smile as he discovered the buttons that moved his hospital bed. Glory, alleluia.
“If prayer is a force at all, it cannot be possible to pray without something happening.” Emmet Fox
If we really believe that prayer makes something happen, doesn’t that sort of change everything?
Many of my friends decided to stop reading and watching the news. They couldn’t handle the weight and load and burden it is to see the world’s pain and violence and terror, writ large and loud across a screen or page. They said they were protecting themselves, focusing simply on the people in their lives day-to-day. I understood, but I think an opportunity was lost. See, what if prayer really makes a difference? Not just for the friend who lost a baby, but for the Nigerian school girl wondering what tomorrow will bring and whether she’ll be sold or raped or killed? What if God wants us to see so that we act, so we respond, trusting that if He asked us to pray, there must be some use to it?
What if tragedies don’t have to leave us tongue-tied, or worse, saying all sorts of silly Christian-eeze nonsense, assuming we know why God allowed it. What if we actually had some effective work to do on behalf of the hurting?
Because we do, and it’s only one breath away. Hurry to your knees, then, and I’ll hurry to mine, and we’ll give our breath and our time, reckoning it true that God listens and acts and is pleased that we’re finally loving someone else above ourselves.
“We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.”