Part II: Prayer
When you have an ill spouse, prayer is your lifeblood. I don’t just mean asking God to do things—let this test result come back positive and that one negative, lead us to the right specialist, make his horrible headache go away so he can sleep for two hours at a time—I mean, simply, talking to God.
This is highly anecdotal, but I’m guessing it’s a common experience. When I begin my day with prayer, talk to God in the car on my way to work, take a few moments to talk to Him immediately about things that come up during the day, pray over our meal at night, and pray before bed, I feel like I’m in pretty constant communion with Him. Feelings matter. It’s one thing to know God is right there and another to take advantage of it. And why not take advantage of it? I’ve given up feeling embarrassed about how needy I am. And I’m not above praying, Lord, please let this incredibly painful meeting be blessedly short. But the meat and potatoes of praying is God’s will.
God’s will. God’s will is a mystery to me. I have the same questions most people do: Why pray if God has already willed certain things to happen? Can we change His mind? Are we actually just playing into some plan where God knows what He’s going to do, but wants you to ask for it anyway? Will we ever get off the island??
I know I’m supposed to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth (Matthew 6:10), which means I spend a lot of time praying to know God’s will. For my stubborn heart, I also pray a lot that God will change me to make me desire His will. He is sovereign and controls every situation and sometimes the situation isn’t great and that’s His will. I want to make sure my heart is ready to accept that.
That’s all pretty concise for what could be a theologian’s life work, so I’ll point out one of the stories that has given me insight into God’s will. The story is in Matthew 8. A leper comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” And Jesus says, “I am willing, be clean.”
Wow. God is willing. He is willing to heal; he wants to heal. So many times I thought I know God can heal, but does he want to? Is it his will? Well, it is. The only thing left to ask is, “When?” If Brad is healed tomorrow, then Amen (and you’re all invited to a celebratory party)! But it could also mean Brad is healed in 10 years. In that case, Amen! Or, it could mean Brad never knows healing on this earth, but guess what? He IS healed in eternity. His redeemed body is waiting for him (Romans 8:23). And again, Amen! There’s no option where God leaves a believer unhealed. Every single believer comes into heaven with a whole body, completely free of any disease or pain.
Prayer from others. I used to hate asking people to pray for me or for Brad. I thought it was attention-seeking or taking away from what little time people have to pray for their own needs. But then, a friend of a friend revealed her husband was battling cancer. She’s just a year older than me and has two young kids. As I read one heartbreaking update after the next, I committed to praying for her and her husband daily. Praying for her changed my life. Praying for her made me face the reality of what might happen to my own husband and hash it out with God in faith. I hope it also helped her, but if nothing else, it taught me how much I can grow and learn by praying for someone else.
And now, when others pray for Brad (as many of you have done—thank you!), I’m humbled not just that they’ve taken the time, but that God might use our situation to change something in their hearts the way He used that acquaintance to change mine.
Pray for yourself. Again, I always felt a little ashamed spending time praying for myself. It seemed so selfish. But we’ve all read the Psalms, right? David sucked some serious rug praying for peace, prosperity, and victory for himself. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that not praying for myself was prideful. I can’t get by without God’s guidance, mercy, and grace. To think I can get through one day (or one moment) without His grace and sovereignty is laughable.
When one spouse has health problems, the other spouse becomes the de facto support system. How can I hold up and encourage my husband if I’m not drawing on the strength of the Lord? More than ever, I need God to change me, uphold me, and lead me. And there’s nothing wrong with asking Him for it.
My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
Part I | Gratitude