Lyndie and I received news today that a tiny infant we had been praying for died this morning. Weighing in at 290 grams at birth, he was the tiniest baby every admitted to the NICU. Though the doctors and caregivers of multiple hospitals gave it all that they could, though this little one was bathed in prayer every moment of every day, and though the parents trusted that God was going to bring a miracle, his little body was not able to sustain life. Needless to say, the journey for the family is not over.
What were our expectations for what God would do? Over and over the hopes of people needing a significant miracle are unfulfilled. Though countless prayers from people known and unknown to the families are lifted faithfully, the prayed for response never seems to come about. For some families, it is the end of hope and the beginning of despair.
We who watch and pray from the sidelines often find ourselves holding our breath as the affected family struggles for understanding, consolation, and peace. It is never easy to make sense of such heart-rending loss no matter what our level of faith in God may be. To see it happen is tragic; to see it happen more than once causes us to wonder what is going on. Where is God and what is God doing to help us?
How often do we fail to see what is right before our eyes? When distracted, it is quite easy to miss signs, warnings, and blessings. When we are so focused on our struggle, our loss, or even our overwhelming success, we can overlook the very thing that we have been searching for. I don’t know what the next step for this little one’s family will be, but I do know that God is present and ready to help them find consolation and peace.
Will that be enough? What about the promises of God that if we ask for anything in Jesus’ name, it will be granted to us? What will they say to those who ask why God did not preserve the life of their little one? In the great mercy of God, they will not have to struggle with these questions either silently or alone, for we who have been holding them in prayer will continue to seek God’s comfort for the family and all who mourn with them.
Knowing what to pray for can be challenging. We want specific needs fulfilled. We want answers to come that align with our expectations. We want the action we have requested to happen now if not sooner. Is that what is best for the person or action we are praying for? Is our understanding sufficient to know all the ramifications of what our request would bring about over time? Not always.
There are times, when the answer seems long in coming, that we can make it through our self-focused view to the place where we can begin to understand that what we are requesting may not be best in the end. At those times, our prayers can change from “my will” to “thy will” and we can begin to thank and praise God for simply being there. At that moment, we begin to feel and appreciate God’s consolation and peace. And, I might add, we begin to look for how God will redeem this life and situation.
The blessing of life is that all of us are held in love by God. Every life, whether long or short, has meaning and serves an eternal purpose. With this understanding, our prayers can become more focused on seeking what God desires and less about what we want. Allowing God to direct our focus gives God glory allows God’s purposes to be accomplished to the blessing of all people.
Please do not stop praying for God to bring help, hope, and healing to all wherever there is need. Our praying opens us to receive guidance for how we can help to bring about the answer from God. Instead, live in constant prayer that every person may sense God’s loving presence and find in it the strength to meet the need before them. And may God be gracious to allow you a vision of his great love for your faithfulness.
Peace and hope,
Pastor Braxton ><>