When asked, “What is something that surprised you about chronic illness?” my mind was overloaded with thoughts.
There are so many things that have surprised me in my journey as a “heart mom.” I thought of all the unforeseen things I’ve experienced, all the relationships and unexpected connections I’ve made. I thought about how differently I look at life, how thankful I am for every little blessing, and how I’ve seen joy in the eyes of my daughter amidst her struggles. However, today, as I look back at my life and think of my experiences, I’m most surprised at the powerful gift prayer has been. Some describe prayer as a conversation with God, but I believe it’s much more.
Prayer is not a new concept for me. As a child, I remember praying nightly for my dad and younger brother who were diagnosed with a genetic neuromuscular disease. Growing up, I witnessed the effects of the disease on my brother. I wanted to help him, to take away the difficulties, to do something, so I prayed. I prayed God would take away his disease, would let me switch spots with my brother. I prayed for a cure. It was during this time, I started to understand prayer was more than a conversation. Prayer had purpose. It was a gift and a tool, and it was powerful. Little did I know how powerful this gift would continue to be.
When I first heard the words, “Your baby’s heart is not normal,” my world was turned upside down. I was scared, angry and confused. I questioned God. How could He allow this innocent, unborn baby be to be brought into this world to suffer through repeated surgeries, procedures and pain?
Why would He give her this journey?
My heart was broken, but I prayed. I prayed for the comfort and safety of this little person inside me. I prayed He would give me the strength to give her what she needed. I prayed that whatever God’s plan was, and however much time He was going to let us share with her, He would always be at my daughter’s side. I knew I had to trust God, and even though I did not understand, this was the path He had chosen for her. I was no longer in control.
I had never been in control.
The more I prayed, the more I was able to see. I saw more than the diagnosis of a congenital heart defect. I saw the support system surrounding me – family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. I saw the outpouring of supportive messages from people, including those I had never met. I saw friends dropping off meals and offering to help in any way they could, strangers adding our daughter to prayer lists, our church and a large community praying for our baby. I saw generosity, compassion, and most importantly, the power of prayer.
Prayer did more than help me to see, it also helped me to feel. Slowly the shock, denial, anger and depression turned into comfort and acceptance. The paralyzing fear dissipated, and a positive attitude emerged. I started to feel confident and strong. I felt HOPE.
And because of prayer, I no longer felt helpless, but instead, ready. I was ready for our daughter to enter this world, because I knew whatever the outcome, I was not alone.
Board Member at Chronic Joy Ministry, Inc.
Prayer Photo courtesy of Kyle Re Creative. Text added by Chronic Joy Ministry.
Why Leave Your Child’s Life to Chance When You Can Give It to God? Stormie and her husband spent 20 years raising their children…and more than 40 years praying for them. Now, in 32 short, easy-to-read chapters, she shares how you can pray through each stage of your child’s life, from early childhood to adulthood. Learn how to put your child’s life in God’s loving hands.
Find encouragement for the realities of daily care giving challenges. Through brief Gospel-focused readings and Scripture verses, this small book offers refreshment and renewal for the exhausted caregiver. Each reading focuses on Jesus as the source of our hope and strength. Blessings and Prayers for Caregivers can be tucked in a pocket or a purse to go with you wherever you are and to be at your fingertips whenever you have a minute or two and need a word of encouragement.
The conversations between Jill Briscoe and her Father in Heaven are intimate, warm, and full of surprises. To cope with these many pressures, Jill has found joy in stretches of candid, personal, intercessory prayer, which forms the basis for the conversations in this book.
Prayer is a precious invitation from God. Let’s Pray! Often, we over-think prayer, complicating it by seeking the right words, the right time, the right place, or the perfect formula, so afraid of getting it wrong that we fail to pray at all.