I got my flu shot and my arm hurts. Really bad. Every time I move it. Ouch.
Amazing, this little vial of medicine injected in my arm, despite the pain, will keep me from becoming very sick (provided I don't catch a strain not covered by this vaccine).
A little thing. A big payoff.
Prayer is like that too. No prayer is ever too small of insignificant. They are all important to God. Whether it's a, "please help my dog feel better," or a "we need a miracle to heal grandma" nothing is ignored.
The important thing to remember with prayer, though, is that all prayers are answered although not in the way we might like. I remember this when my cousin Andy fell ill this time last year with an inoperable brain tumor.
I never prayed for being cured. I only prayed for God's will to be done. Now, there may be some out there who feel I was wrong. I know my mother wanted everyone to pray unceasingly and fast and believes if we had done this, Andy would be 100% cured now and still with us. But I just can't believe God works like that. If that assumption were true, than we would have to assume that God only answers the prayers of people in the way in which they would like when we don a sackcloth and offer sacrifice. We all know that is not true. I did neither and yet, I was given two children when doctors at one point thought I had a less than 10% chance of carrying a healthy baby to term. That assumption would also lead us to believe that those who offer prayers that are brief and not public would never hear God answer them with a yes. See where I am going with this?
In the movie Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey is given the awesome powers of God but also the awesome responsibilities. Remember the scene where he is answering prayers (in the form of heavenly email) and responds yes to all of them. Remember the fall out from that?
I viewed Andy's illness as a win-win, either God would cure Andy and allow him to stay with us here on Earth, OR, God would bring Andy home. That is not to say I wanted Andy to suffer the brutal effects of chemotherapy and radiation and the inevitable emotional pain of cancer. I would have spared him 100 times if I could have, but that was not what God wanted.
As the weeks of Andy's treatments went on, I kept hearing people say things like, Andy didn't deserve this (no one does) and they could not accept that God would allow Andy to suffer like this, what kind of loving, benevolent God allows children to get cancer? I struggled with hearing these comments, because in my heart it had been revealed to me, not the outcome, but that there was a purpose for this and that it was not for me to understand. With great heaviness, I accepted that revelation (which came while praying the Divine Mercy chaplet). I knew others might not believe or trust me. One day, as I was driving around town, listening to Relevant Radio, I heard Father John Corapi say something that spoke to my heart. I don't know the exact quote, but he said something to the effect of, as humans, we struggle with God's decisions. We want to know why, but we can't. We cannot understand because we are not God and it is not for us to understand. Only God in his divine wisdom can understand the struggles we endure and the pain we sometimes suffer. I pulled over in a parking lot and cried. I knew I was supposed to hear this, I knew Father Corapi was chosen as the instrument, and I knew now that when someone made a comment to me that Andy shouldn't have this happen, I had to share these words. And I did often, with friends and co-workers and family. I remember telling one co-worker, a single mother of two boys who desperately was praying for Andy and our family. She is not Catholic, so I hesitated just for a second. When I told her, her face and whole countenance changed as if she was truly hearing the word of God. Now I don't claim to be an instrument of God, but it's hard to deny what happened in those few moments. She later emailed me that she was going through a severe crisis of faith because of both Andy's illness and her son's behavioral issues. She said hearing that moved her toward God just as she felt she was drifting away.
And in the months of his illness and treatment, Andy touched thousands, probably millions around the world with his faith. Child saints are revered for their undying faith in God. Andy's faith never waivered. He never asked, "why me?" He was saddened by the fear that lived in his parents and siblings. He knew he would miss them, but he joyfully accepted God's will. He posted on his caringbridge site about revelations he received in dreams. He inspired people around the world to pray. And he was unselfish, he used the platform he had to ask for prayers for others. In particular, for one little boy who posted on his site frequently whose mother was fighting breast cancer.
When Andy was brought home by God in May, he went peacefully, joyfully. He loved his life, his home on the lake and the mountain house, his golden retriever, Honey, his sisters and brothers, his parents, his best friends, his godparents, but most of all he loved God and trusted God. He knew no prayer was too little. And he knew God answered all prayers.
Prayers are like the spark we light in the darkness. They guide us to God and an answer. We must learn to accept the answers God gives us and accept we may not understand God's answers, but it may not be for us to understand. Instead we are to walk with him in faith and understanding that because He is God, He will always do what is best for us.
"He has shown you, O people, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justice, and to love kindsness and to walk humbly with your God."
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