Today I've been pondering what an awe-inspiring privilege it is to be a mother. I've been a mom for 21 years, and sometimes it still scares me stiff! It really is, as the saying goes, "the hardest job you'll ever love." As I think about the privilege of being a mother, I'd like to share with you a post I wrote about praying for our children. This was originally published at the blog of my friends Vanessa and Heather, At the Picket Fence. Now I'm glad to share these thoughts here.
Praying for Our Children
Surely there's no activity that more clearly demonstrates our working together with God and our dependence on Him than that of parenthood. "Children are a heritage from the Lord," we read in Psalm 127, and we know it's true. Being part of the miracle of creating and sustaining life is one of the greatest privileges God gives us; we know we could never do it on our own.
We love our children so much, and we always want the best for them. But sometimes we find ourselves faced with particularly trying circumstances, and our prayers take on special meaning. For my family, those trying circumstances have often come through the challenges of illness. My husband and two of my sons have a genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder which can involve great difficulty and even danger.
I remember so well the month of April 2008, when our then-14-year-old son Preston had to have major open-heart surgery. For years we had hoped and prayed that medication and monitoring might prevent his needing surgery, but that was not to be. Surgery was necessary to replace his ascending aorta with a polyester graft and his aortic valve with an artificial valve.
I'll never forget one particular scene from the day of Preston's surgery. For weeks I had held things together pretty well, doing all the big and little things required of me. And I kept a smile on my face in pre-op, staying calm when they wheeled Preston away and quiet as we took our seats in the waiting room. Several friends had gathered there to wait with Jack and me. We were all chatting cheerfully when one of the nurses called the waiting room from the Operating Room. The receptionist matter-of-factly relayed the message: "The surgeon wants you to know that Preston is safely under anesthesia and they've made the incision," she said. "Thank you very much," I answered. Then I burst into tears.
As I sobbed, my friends circled around me. My friend Anne took my hand and said, "Let's pray right now." Right there, in front of the whole waiting room, loud enough for everyone to hear, my friends prayed. They lifted Preston and the medical team and Jack and me to God, and they asked for every good thing. Five days later, Preston went home from the hospital.
That crisis was one I couldn't have weathered by myself. I was helpless to heal Preston, helpless to affect the outcome of the surgery, helpless even to keep myself calm and peaceful. God alone could provide what was needed.
Of course, the time of Preston's surgery was really just a special example of what God does for us every day. Most days we don't feel as helpless and dependent as I felt that day, but the truth is that we wouldn't even have air to breathe if it weren't for the goodness and grace of God. Were it not for God's grace, we wouldn't have our children, much less be able to care for them. Oh, yes! Parenthood is definitely something that we and God are doing together!
But to tell the truth, God doesn't always answer prayers as we'd like. Sometimes terrible things happen to children of parents who pray for them earnestly and faithfully. Theologians of different persuasions offer various explanations for this; they refer to it "the problem of evil." Some of their explanations are helpful; others are not. The humbling reality is that we don't understand exactly how God works. We don't know why some prayers are answered "yes" and some are answered "no." Some things are a mystery to us.
One thing we can know for sure, though: God loves us. "We know and rely on the love God has for us" (I John 4:16). When it comes to our children, we struggle. We cry. We're afraid. Sometimes the things we fear come to pass. But when we pray for our children, we're staking a claim. We're saying that we trust God. We're depending on Him for the very best for our children. God alone is strong enough overcome the most difficult of circumstances. Not even the things we fear most can separate us from God's love in Christ (Romans 8:38-39).
As we pray for our children, we're becoming people who know--really know--that God is good. We thank Him for blessing us with our kids. We humbly rely on Him as we do the work with which He's entrusted us. We humble ourselves before Him and spend time with Him, and He changes our hearts to be more like the heart of Christ. As we become more Christlike, we want to spend more time with him. Then when we spend more time with Him, He changes our hearts some more. Just like parenting, our growth in Christlikeness is completely dependent upon God--but God has given us work to do. We are working together with God. We have a lot to talk with Him about, don't we?
Happy Mother's Day, my fellow moms!
Happy Mother's Day, my fellow moms!