Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Never Stop Praying. . . .

"When is it going to end?" I asked Lisa that question last night as we went through the routine of getting me hunkered down for the night in the hospital bed that now sits in my family room. I know the answer to the question. God will bring it all to an end as he brings his purposes to pass. . . some day. Still, I asked out of the frustration of another day of being exposed to the suffering, hurt, and heartache that exists in our world.

One of the blessings of my own personal condition right now is that God is doing something in my life. Part of that something is a new exposure to the world of pain, hurt, and suffering that's always been there. . . but that my own creature-comforts and self-absorption with the everyday affairs of my life have kept me from seeing and understanding. I can't, however, say that I'm liking this. Even my simple trip to the hospital for my first post-trauma follow-up appointment yesterday left me shaking my head. The waiting room was filled with folks who were going to heal from breaks and tears like my own. It was also populated by folks who have very clearly been ravaged by disease. . . some of them hanging on by what appeared to be a thread. There was our quick conversation with a couple who like us, was trying to find their way through the maze of hallways to a particular suite. In the short few moments we talked I learned that the man had just spent 6 weeks in the hospital and that he was one day away from having his lung removed. Then, late last night we learned of a difficult diagnosis that has left some friends asking questions and wondering about the future. Tomorrow, a 60-year-old fellow church member who loved Jesus and loved kids will be buried after a lengthy and difficult battle with ovarian cancer. I've been burdened for another friend who is struggling with some family breakdown and is wondering what in the world happened. The list goes on and on.

What am I to do with all of this? The reality is that beyond supportive involvement, there is little or nothing I can do that will bring any lasting change with the exception of prayer. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul gave them this simple instruction: "Never stop praying" (5:17). I've known this my whole life. I'm not sure I've ever understood it as deeply as I do now. And so when I woke up at 1:30am, I knew it was time for me to pray for these and others who have exhausted their own strength and resources to the point where they can only rely on the Lord. . . which right where he wants us.

After falling back asleep and waking up again this morning, I knew I had to give thanks for those who have been praying for me. To be honest, even I'm surprised at how much I've healed in three short weeks. Sure, there's lots of healing left to be done, but I got to thinking about how meaningful it is that people are praying for me.

While still laying in bed, I grabbed my blackberry and scrolled through the emails the messages that came through the night. As it's happened almost every night for the last 50, I had a message saying that Alisa Parrett had posted an update on Gary's condition to their Caring Bridge site. Today, Alisa shared these words regarding her Dad's day yesterday at the rehab hospital: My mother met with my dad's new doctor today--he had actually been instrumental in working out my dad's transfer from Korea, but this was the first time any of us had met him. My mom was so blessed by meeting him--we pray blessings upon him and upon the rest of the hospital staff. The doctor spoke to my mom today about the power of prayer. He said that in a field as unpredictable and unknown as brain injury, patients who have large bases of prayer support always seem to recover better than expected. We know that my dad has a large prayer base, and we are so grateful for that! God answers prayers.

I selfishly covet your prayers. I want to get better. But don't forget that there's a host of people right under your nose who need your prayers much, much more than I do.


Kelly said...

What a season you are in, Walt!! I pray for God to shower you with His healing, and also for him to continue this good work in you.

Anonymous said...

Walt, your words are so true. As we walk through the trials of a family member who's choices are heart wrenching, it is ever so clear that it is prayer that gives the strength. we share the heartbreak with others so they will pray when we are weak and that their hands will lift ours when we cannot. I have learned that when I say i will pray, it is a serious matter and a privilege beyond any I can imagine. I want to be where God wants me to be, in communication with Him, at his feet. Praying with and for you, my friend. And as always, so thankful for your honest words.


Stephanie said...

Walt, I am so so thankful to see that you are recovering. Your ministry to us is so comforting in these times of great confusion.

"...patients who have large bases of prayer support always seem to recover better", so states a doctor. This is an insult to God. Healing is not a "Get Well" contest where God counts the number of prayers received and then heals those with the most "votes". The implication being that God then neglects to intervene(or intervenes to a lesser degree),on behalf of the poor sickly innocent child born into a family without a strong base of prayer partners.

Ralph said...

Walt, great to hear of your recovery. You are one tough hombre. God has blessed you with an exceptional family and supportive friends. You are worthy and deserving of both.

I have always been greatly puzzled as to why God allows massive and excruciating suffering of His beloved children. The passing of my most loving, caring, and giving grandmother is the epitome of this puzzlement. On the Sunday she was to receive recognition for 45 years of consecutive attendance as church organist, she failed to show up. Several of us hurriedly rushed over to her house. Upon entering we were horrified to find her lifeless body stuck between her refrigerator and the wall. She had slightly pulled out the refrigerator to reach a picture of Jesus which had fallen from it's place right above the refrigerator. She got stuck and was unable to free herself. She always glanced at that picture and gave a quick thanks before opening the refrigerator. What an unbelievable slow and agonizing way to die. All the while God was looking down upon her.

As loving fathers, both you and I would never allow any of our children to horribly suffer while having the power to stop it. I cannot fathom any condition or reason we would.

Bob Irvin said...

Praying for you, Walt!

Bob Irvin

Anonymous said...

Walt...I will commit to pray for you each day until you are better...I often think of you and CPYU and would love to catch up with you someday. My prayers are with you and your family, and I loved your blog, it encouraged me, even in my continueing saga with my daughter! Get better and God bless you! Debbie DeShaw in New Holland

Nate E said...

Walt it really is encouraging to see you process and give us perspective. The deepest wells have been excavated through the hardest rock...

Anonymous said...

In response to Stephanie:

I was also encouraged by your BLOG, Walt. It's good to see that those who we gain perspective from, also keep the right perspective during difficult times.

As far as the doctor's comment, I don't believe it was insulting to God at all. It speaks more to the patient then it does to the character of God. The implication is that those who know there are people praying for them are strengthened and encouraged, and therefore have quicker recoveries, usually. While someone who does not have that hope feels alone, or even abandoned at times, which may lead to depression, anxiety and a slower recovery.

Our God is full of love and compassion, and though it may seem that His mercy and kindness extends to some more than others, He does nothing that is contrary to His Word. The Bible says that He is not a respector of persons, "For there is no partiality with God." We must also understand that "... all things work together for good..." and ultimately that good = His glory. Whether we accept it and trust Him, or not.


Northville, MI

Stephanie said...

Andrew, thanks so much for your well articulated response to help me understand the doctors remark. I very much appreciate your effort. What you say makes perfect sense and is well documented. I believe it falls under the "Power of Suggestion".

With your explanation of the power of prayer it is the patient's knowledge that people are praying for them that results in them being "strengthened and encouraged and therefore have quicker recoveries". With this explanation though, quicker recoveries have absolutely nothing to do with God's intervention in response to these prayers. Interesting, but confusing.

P.S. I am also totally confused and at a loss in trying to respond to my good friend Ralph, in his questioning of unbearable suffering of Godly people.