Ethan caught a stomach bug Wednesday night that had him miss his last day of 2nd grade Thursday. “It’s the worst day to miss school!” He had been looking forward to the intense learning that takes place every last week of school in the form of root beer floats and watching the movie Frozen.
My independent 8 year old has been wanting his mommy. He loves his own comfortable bed like crazy but has been asking to sleep in ours. As much as I enjoy these rare moments of needing me, I would trade them in a heart beat to have him healthy and forgetting my existence again.
Ethan is a little guy who prays often. It is not just his bedtime routine but his default mode in any time of trouble. When we took the boys to the dollar theater to see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, I looked over during a climactic scene in the film to see Ethan with his hands clasped, head bowed and lips moving. No doubt he was asking God to intervene for these fictional characters on the prerecorded screen.
There has been some earnest praying in this house these past 36 hours. Ethan is constantly asking God to heal his hurting belly. He has been asking me to pray over him every time a bout of cramping hits. While I love that he is fervent and faithful, these prayers have also been difficult to hear. In moments of desperately not wanting to hurl, Ethan has pleaded with God in ways that breaks my heart.
“Please God help me feel better! Please don’t let me throw up! I know You can do it because You’re the best. Please, please make me better. Please, Lord, I’m begging you to make my stomach feel better. Please, Lord, don’t let me throw up at all today or tomorrow or the rest of this year. Please, God, PLEASE!!!”
His voice is loud enough to cause his sleeping brother to stir at 3am and have me imagine the dirty looks of future fellow travelers on our long flight later today.
In these moments of his physical pain, emotional anguish and spiritual plight, I am weak. As I pray alongside him in obedient response to his impassioned pleas, I sometimes find my words lacking the faith he has. Rather than empowered, I feel helpless. Rather than at peace, I question. I see my son’s tense face and wonder why God does not seem to answer quickly. It reminds me of when Ethan was an infant with the worst diaper rash in the world. It was the first time I remembered wondering how God could witness pain in His own son, how His love could possibly dictate such sacrificial suffering. I could barely witness my baby with a sore bottom.
I am reminded of how limited I am in my understanding of Him with whom I have been walking for decades. I hear the soft trickle of welcome rain watering the desert outside. He waters the parched land; will He not also care for Ethan? I listen to my son’s steady breathing of blessed sleep after the cramping has mercifully subsided for now. My prayers transform from desperate requests for healing to a quieted desire for my child to know Him more deeply, more maturely, and more powerfully than his mother can even describe. It does not relieve the ache in my heart at all, but there is something that whispers to me that this is holy ground.