Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
There’s a room inside the Good Samaritan ER waiting room that is used for families when they are told a loved one has passed away. I know this because in 2011 it is where my mother-in-law was told that her husband had died, and her children and step-children gathered to console her.
In 2014, I was led into this room again, and as I stepped across the threshold, I wanted to run and scream and vomit and hide and cry. I was sure a doctor was going to enter the room at any minute to tell me that my son had been killed in the car accident. There was a nun standing to my left, my mother and daughter sat across from me and I was bending over a trashcan. This is the absolute worst memory that I can recall. But I also remember something else, quite clearly. As I sat there waiting, I was praying. Praying the same sentence over and over again. “God, please let my son be alive.”
After what seemed like forever, a doctor did enter the room and led me into a hallway where my husband had been talking to our pastor. The doctor told us that we could see him now because the tests and x-rays were done. I think it was at that moment that my heart started beating again. He was alive and I was about to see him. God had been listening to my repeated prayer and had answered it.
I was flooded with relief when I saw him lying there on the ER bed. My hands were shaking as I stroked his hair and pulled pieces of grass and dirt and sticks out of it. He looked up and told us how sorry he was. Our pastor said a prayer, my husband almost fainted and I said “I love you” about a million times. We cried tears of happiness.
And then the doctor asked to speak with us. Our tears became tears of grief, tears of future memories lost, and tears of hearts truly breaking. Our son— our football player, our baseball catcher, our wrestler— was paralyzed and would spend his life in a wheelchair.
Pray. It was the obvious thing to do. I prayed to God to make our son well again. I prayed for this thing called paralysis to be gone. I prayed through surgery after surgery, as the doctors realigned his spine with rods, reset his femur with pins, and inserted tubes to keep his lungs from filling with blood. Make him well, I prayed.
From waiting room chairs, from elevators, from a cot next to his bed……I prayed for God to make him well.
And on the third day, I left the hospital long enough to go home for a shower and to grab a few things. Just a quick thirty minute drive, but another opportunity to pray. However, this time, in the privacy of my vehicle, my prayer turned into a pitiful sobbing and pleading, one-way conversation with God. Why hadn’t he heard me yet? Why hadn’t my prayer been answered yet? Why was my son still laying in that stupid bed? It was an unfair conversation because I did all of the talking, all the way home and back again. Finally I reached south 2nd, and when I stopped at a red light, I decided to stop my rant with God. I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be questioning my Heavenly Father. And with that decision, at that moment and that red light, God had a chance to respond.
As I was stopped at the red light, a vehicle turned in front of me. It was a large truck. When the light changed to green I began following the truck, headed to the hospital. As I followed, I realized what was in front of me. It was a burial vault truck with a vault in the back, and I can only assume that it was driving toward the cemetery to place a vault into a grave. I drove the rest of the trip in silence with tears flowing down my cheeks. God had joined the conversation by reminding me of the prayer that he had answered three days earlier. My son was still alive and that was what I had asked of Him.
The next day, my husband and I, along with our pastor, a surgeon, and a nurse, gathered around our son’s bed to tell him the news of his paralysis….news, that no doubt, he had already realized. At the surgeon’s request, we all joined hands to pray, but this time nothing was asked of God. Instead, we gave Him praise.
“Thank you God for our son.”
*Photo Credit: Brad Mellema