Sunday, January 24, 2010

Doctors, Deliverance and Death

I preface this saying that this post is based on a series of sermons that my pastor at Leonardtown Baptist Church has been giving over the last few weeks...

So, I'm going to be very transparent here. I have been mulling over the purpose of prayer for several weeks. A dear friend and I talked about it and she had such a good statement: Without communication, there is no relationship. So, at the very least, prayer is necessary for a relationship with God.

I also know the Bible tells us to pray. Jesus prayed. He told us HOW to pray. So, obviously, we are to pray.'s my struggle. What is it that I am to pray for? If I believe as I claim, that there is a plan for each and every life and God knows it from the beginning to end, what is my prayer for? Is it going to change the way something happens? How could it, if the 'plan' is the 'plan' regardless of my prayer for something different. Moreover, if we are asking God to intercede and heal people, on what basis are we asking that? And even more pressing, on what basis does He decide to do that? Why does He pick one baby to save and not mine? Were our prayers not good enough? Had we prayed harder, or more people had prayed, would that have changed anything? I can't believe that it would--because if it did, that means that enough fervent prayer could have saved Matthew and that just doesn't sit right with me. Especially in light of the fact that I know people around the world were praying.

So...when we ask people to pray and heal someone--if it happens, we claim miracle. If it doesn't, we claim what? God said, "No," to that prayer? Maybe...but then that makes one start asking questions that I have thus far not: "Why NOT?" "Why NO to my son?" And again, I go back to my belief that God is not up in Heaven plucking babies for a plan. Nor do I believe He needed another angel--He's GOD for Pete's sake! He needs NOTHING from us. Nor do I think He created Matthew, saw what a beautiful little boy he was and said, "Hmm...should have kept that one. Taking him back."

As I said, I am clearly, CLEARLY struggling with prayer. I have been hard-pressed to offer any to God out loud. I'm relying on the prayers John offers for our food and our days. I'm relying on the prayers of our many friends and family. I'm relying on the Holy Spirit to offer my prayers for me because I am just having a hard time doing it myself.

But today...the service today did not really give me the "Aha! THAT's what I was looking for!" with reference to my understanding the purposes of prayer and what we are to petition God for, but it DID bring to light something else. Though I sat and cried and cried as he spoke, I know what he said was for me.

We have been discussing the various names of God. Two weeks ago, we discussed God as I AM--our All and All. Last week, he preached on Jehovah-Jireh--God as our Provider.

Today was Jehovah-Rophe--God as our Healer. I knew it would be hard to sit through, as things are still so raw. My pastor talked about how God takes away our bitterness as our Healer. He used the story of Moses taking Israel out of Egypt--they got through the Red Sea only to find the water on the other side was bitter. He delivered them...and made the bitter water sweet. Then, as many Southern Baptist preachers do (and possibly one reason I love being a Baptist because the sermons are so nice and grammatically geometric!), he made his second alliterative point:

God heals through deliverance...My pastor said something like this: "We ask if God still heals? Does He still heal? How can we say he does when we pray and people aren't healed? Is He still healing? Yes, He is.

He heals: 1) through doctors;
He heals: 2) through deliverance of circumstance
He heals: 3) and this one is the one no one wants to hear or talk about, but is nonetheless precious healing, He heals through death."

That's right. He delivers us from the horrors of this world through death.

Now, trust me...sitting there this morning, listening to that, I thought, "DEATH is better than my arms??? DEATH is better than Matthew's mother???"

And if I am really true, and believe what I say, it is.
In death, Matthew is whole. He is not hurting. He does not cry. He is literally at the feet of Jesus. And though it may not be better to us, it is certainly better in God's eyes.

My pastor is right. No one, including me, feels comfortable saying that death better than life on this earth.--But like I said, if we REALLY believe what we claim, then as uncomfortable as we are, it's truth nonetheless--what can be better than the feet of Jesus?

SO--the point of this all is that in my struggle for the purpose of my prayer to heartfelt and deepest prayer to God that my little boy would be prayer was answered and it wasn't "No." It was death. Death on this earth. The loss of him in my arms. The ache I will feel for the rest of my natural life.

It's my arrogance and desperation as a human and a mother that tries to cloud Heaven being better than my arms. It's my rebellion in wanting what I WANT. And yes, I know it's because I am human that I am this way and I feel that I am totally justified in the feelings. Well, maybe not justified in the truest sense, but certainly justified as a human feeling them.

My beliefs are being challenged on a constant basis. Hourly I make decisions to trust what I know has to be true. This morning was hard, and did challenge my beliefs...but in my pastor being honest and approaching something that we as humans who love life don't want to hear--he helped answer a question that has been raging in my mind for days and days.

That rare, tiny piece of clarity seems to be so far from me so much of the time. I am grateful for it today.

For the record: I HAVE learned that in prayer, I need to be far, far more specific.


  1. I struggle with those thoughts too...I know that God knows us, He created us! He knows we are flesh and the flesh is weak and selfish. He knows that we can't comprehend His ways and He knows that is just doesn't make sense. I'm sure there are times He thinks, I wish I could tell you now...but later you'll understand.

    It sure isn't easy to keep trusting...but you'll trust Him for what the future holds and you'll trust Him for the little one you'll someday have and keep.

  2. I have struggled with many of those same issues surrounding prayer. One thing that I have learned, and I am still learning everyday, is that although my prayer might not bring about the outcome I want, it will change me. Prayer changes me. It changes my relationship with God, the way I handle outcomes, and the the directions that I choose to go. That's what I've gathered so far :)

  3. We live on is a fallen world. Why do bad things happen? Why do they happen to me, to you to anyone? If God took away pain, healed everyone, took away poverty, gave every orphan a would be heaven. There are things I pray for - for my girls to come home, I prayed for Matthew to live, I don't know why some miracles happen and some don't, but I do know that the enemy wants you to feel isolated and apart from God. Don't let your greif isolate you from God, please.

  4. I don't have a good answer and posted similar questions on my blog a couple months ago. You can read my thoughts here...

    BTW, Richard Foster has some very interesting answers to this question in his book "Celebration of Discipline". Super deep book but it might be a good read for you while you're contemplating this super heavy stuff.

    Thinking of you daily....

  5. I think many of us who believe in prayer struggle with these thoughts.In my experiences I have always felt a great peace when I ask for specific things in prayer even if the outcome is not what I had hoped. I think it is a way we can share our deepest desires and have a relationship with him. Some things we just can not comprehend and God knows this. We must just trust him. He knows your heart and desires even before you pray about it. He will bless you Lori and some day you will understand. Faith to trust preceeds miracles but it is just s hard!

  6. Though we see through a veil -- darkly... comes to mind. I know how much you must want Matthew here and so that is your veil. And I know it is pious of me to sit here and say, "But he's better off." It actually grates on me to write that phrase. BUT... as much as we are tethered to this earthly world, IMAGINE how wonderful Heaven MUST be!!! Would I want my children there instead of here? Absolutely not because I am human and love them and want them with me. Do I think they would be better there -- absolutely. We are HUMAN Lori and "our thoughts are not His thoughts". God knows how you feel and He certainly understands. He lost His own Son.

    And I too struggle with prayer vs. the plan. I struggle with salvation choice vs. chosen. But, Jesus reminds us that our faith needs to be like that of a little child. We tell our children to believe and trust us because we know better than they do. I have to fall back on that in hard, hard times. I think prayer is all about the communication and relationship. I think a lot of this is also things we may never fully understand this side of heaven. Unfortunately.

    I'm sorry you are having to grapple with these things. Truly.

    Word verification: kinical -- I got nothing.

  7. Thanks for always being so honest as I think we all deal with this!! I think my favorite part of this blog was all the little ways He speaks to you while you are sleeping... Especially the " How Great Is Thy Faithfulnees" song. What an awesome hymn to wake up singing :)

  8. Lori,

    Sometimes I just pray for God to give me the where with all to put one foot in front of the other and find my way. I struggle with all those questions too.

    Recently, a pastor said that God sees death as beautiful. What could be beautiful about death one would ask? God sees his children called home and standing before him and its a glorious sight. I can't quite see it that way, not yet, as I'm just not there yet...maybe someday. Until then, I rely on FAITH to carry me :)

    Much love to you and I pray for you often. I pray for God to hear our prayers and to direct our steps.


  9. Lori,
    Just checking in with you.. wanted you to know that my prayers are with you... hugs.. and lots of them..
    your writing is incredible... I think you should write the book!!! :)
    love, prayers, and hugs...

  10. Thanks for this reminder that our babies are healed. Sometimes in my pain I forget this truth.

    When I was in the hospital, I prayed in the shower as it was the only place I felt I could be truly alone with God without interruptions. One day as I was praying the realization hit me that no matter what happened, He was going to heal her, whether it be on this earth or in heaven. I hated it and did not want to accept it. But our babies are in the best place they could possibly be, with no pain or suffering of any kind.

  11. Lori - This post is so very powerful. Your words are so touching, and show your strength, even during the darkest time.

    I don't know what to say about the larger topic of belief or faith or prayer, honestly, I am struggling with the day-to-day concept of, "Why is this so hard?" myself ... but I do want you to know that your words gave me some comfort and a little perspective.

    So thank you for that. Thank you also, for checking in on me and for all your caring words. I keep checking in on you too ... and will continue to do so. Just know you are not alone and you have tons of people who love you and think you are amazing!

    Much love to you,