Monday, January 25, 2010

Help Wanted

How often do you tell people, “I’ll be praying for you” and then forget completely about it once they’re not in front of you? I know with me it happens more than I’d like to admit. I sometimes wonder about my faith in prayer because of how infrequently I remember to place the cares and concerns that weigh me down into God’s hands. It’s like prayer has become a last resort: “Well, I guess all I can do is pray.” It’s like a “Hail Mary” pass in football. I don’t really expect anything to come of it but I might as well try.

Growing up in the church, attending a private school for most of my school years and then graduating from Bible College I have memorized a lot verses concerning prayer. These are a couple of the ones I hear most often among Christians:

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:13-16 (emphasis mine)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

But it’s almost like they’ve become catch phrases to me instead of powerful reminders of the importance of bringing people and situations before the presence of God. I still struggle to understand the balance between praying for what I want to happen and praying for God’s will to be done. Ultimately I always want God’s will to be done…but what if His will doesn’t cause things to turn out the way I expect them to? What if His will doesn’t make any sense to me?

I know in my head that God’s will for us is perfect and that He works out all things for the good of those who are living according to His will. It’s the living it out and turning to Him that isn’t always so easy. This weekend I really struggled with it.

This is my Grandma Bev:
She is one of the most important people in my life…and right now she’s in the hospital. She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is a fancy name for pre-leukemia. According to the American Cancer Society, this is a condition when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are damaged.

Ten years ago she was diagnosed with a different form of cancer – one that had no documented survivors. After surgeries, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, changes in diet, blood dialysis and more my grandma beat all the odds against her and went into remission. Late last year, during a regular check-up with her cancer doctor they discovered that her blood cell counts were dangerously low.

For the last few months she has undergone chemotherapy treatment, blood transfusions, painful bone marrow biopsies and feared going into public because of her inability to fight off disease and infection. She has already had multiple hospital visits and her current hospital stay length is undetermined – they won’t discharge her till her white count is 500; it’s at 48 right now.

Being 1500 miles away it’s easy to forget the severity of the situation. During her first bout of cancer I lived with my grandparents. I was there to sit with my grandma during the day. I was there to talk with my grandpa about his fears and concerns and confusion about what the right treatment option was. I was there…

Now I’m in another state and the cares and needs of my own family, pregnancy, home and life here distract me from what’s going on. Plus I know that she’s well taken care of by my family in Washington and her doctors. Her admission to the hospital last week brought it all to the forefront of my mind once again.

I wish I was there. I don’t want to feel useless. I want to fight alongside her. But I can’t be. So I pray…

This is one of those instances that my only reliance is on prayer. That’s the only thing I can do to help. That and to write this post so others know what she’s going through and can join me in praying for her. Here is a list of prayer requests that I would appreciate your prayers for:

  • That her body would begin to produce enough healthy blood cells so that she can leave the hospital and be considered a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.
  • That the bone marrow transplant, once allowed, would go smoothly and that her body would accept the donor marrow. Her brother has been determined a great candidate and they’re both just waiting on the green light from her doctor.
  • That she would be able to endure the difficult recovery process following a bone marrow transplant: 1 month in the hospital and 3 months living near the hospital so she’s accessible for the constant monitoring necessary after the transplant.
  • That she and my grandpa would feel peace regarding the decisions they’re making, along with their doctor’s help. That they would have hope for the future and a full recovery. That they would not be overcome with discouragement, fear, hopelessness or depression in the face of all the difficult statistics and information they are constantly receiving.
  • Lastly, for my family in Washington who are doing so much to support and take care of my grandparents as they’re dealing with this illness. For their relationships, finances, personal health, and the other responsibilities they have to deal with throughout their days.

Thank you for your prayers and support for my grandma and I am believing that God can and will heal her from this just as He did before. Like the father in Mark 9, I’m crying out to God: “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

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