We started praying on Sunday. In our round-robin family prayers at night, many of us chimed in with the same prayer:
“Lord Jesus, please help everyone who is sick feel better quickly and please, please, please, please do not let Lauren get sick this week. Amen.”
The stomach virus rampaged through our family last week, making mockery of our schedule and activities.
But we prayed it would miss Lauren by leapfrogging over this middle daughter.
Not that we wanted anyone to get sick, of course, but Lauren had a big week.
Class picture day on Tuesday.
Field trip on Wednesday.
Math Bowl competition on Thursday.
Karate belt test on Saturday.
One upset stomach could sabotage any of these activities, so we prayed she would just stay well.
And then my prayers changed, shifted in one gigantic, mountainous move.
Because she got sick. She woke me up in the middle of the night and we ultimately retreated to the couches in the living room until she felt she could sleep.
That’s when I started praying for something different, not “Lord, help her avoid this tough situation. Help her not to be uncomfortable, disappointed, or hurt.”
Now I prayed, “Lord, help her right in the middle of what’s hard. This is disappointing. Help her to overcome. Work on her character and teach her how to handle it when life doesn’t go the way we want.”
She missed the Math Bowl competition after working hard for weeks to prepare, and she felt like she let her team down.
But at the end of the night when she was feeling totally back to normal and it was all over and done with, I leaned down and cupped my hand under her chin, I told her I couldn’t have been more proud of how she handled the hard, more proud than I could have been about any math medal.
God answered my prayers.
He didn’t give me what I wanted. He didn’t help my child avoid something I would have preferred to skip altogether.
But He did a work in her heart, matured her right before my eyes, and taught her deeply meaningful lessons that matter far more in the end.
We’re still a little sad, but we found ourselves surprisingly okay. We walked through the one thing we didn’t want to happen, and we made it.
God is good.
It’s a little nudge to my Mom-heart this week that maybe my prayers should remain shifted.
Maybe I’ll always pray for my kids to be protected from hurt and that everything would work out all the time. I am, after all, their mom and I love them.
And a life with no pain or heartache, no disappointment or difficulty sounds pretty great.
But it also sounds spoiled and easy. It sounds too sweet, like eating a bowlful of candy and ending up sick and with a mouth full of cavities.
God knows best for my kids and I can trust Him. I can pray that He helps them through, gives them strength, teaches them to turn to Him, bringing their hurts and needs to Jesus.
And God knows best for me, too, and for the friends I pray for, the family I love, and the missionaries and the persecuted church I want to cover in prayer.
I read Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:16-19 ESV).
He could have prayed so many things for this beloved church, that they escape persecution, that they prosper financially, that their businesses were successful and their families strong.
But He didn’t focus on their physical needs or wants. He prayed that they know Jesus, know the hope they had in him and know his power.
What if I started praying that for myself and for others?
Lord, may they know you.
In anything they face, anything they go through, when they are facing the worst or receiving the best, may they know Jesus more and find Him so very faithful and so very strong.