Life has it’s ups and downs, doesn’t it? One moment you’re driving along in the sunshine, windows down, great music playing on the stereo. You’re singing along, looking forward to something-in-particular and feeling grateful to be alive. Nek minit, you’re dealing with a crappy situation, wondering how things changed so fast!
Many times the ‘crappy situation’ is not actually that bad, in the big scheme of things. Often it’s a minor but annoying thing. One of your cars needs repairs (again). You feel totally unappreciated by someone. Your computer packs in the day before somebody needs to print out an assignment. You have a really horrible day at work.
Lately I’ve had so many moments like that. We’ve had so many car troubles this year. Other things have gone wrong. Each incident on its own is not so awful, but when they all pile up it can feel quite overwhelming and frustrating. Last week, as I experienced situation after situation, I found myself sitting in my car waiting for Ethan to finish soccer training. I spent some time in prayer, thanking God. You see, in the middle of all of these annoying situations, I had been experiencing some very awesome answers to prayer. I had prayed about everything, from cars to computers to toilets, and most of my prayers had been answered immediately. I was grateful for those answers to prayer, and I had been thanking God for each one. But there was a bigger message that I hadn’t yet noticed.
As I sat in my car, that bigger message hit me. These things were opportunities to test my faith. Yes, I had prayed about each situation, but God showed me that it had taken me a decent amount of time to actually turn to prayer. I couldn’t help trying to solve the problem by myself first, finally turning to God in exhaustion, pleading with him to ‘fix things’. Which he did. At first, I was a little discouraged. But as I continued to pray, God showed me that I was making progress. With each frustrating situation, I was taking LESS time to bring my problems to Him. There was a really obvious pattern that became so clear to me. It was a real revelation.
Little did I know that I would soon be receiving an even bigger opportunity to test my faith. An even bigger, crappier, overwhelming situation. I reckon God was revealing a very important truth to me in that moment, sitting in my car. Would I come to him in prayer immediately next time? Would I simply hand the situation over to him without attempting to fix it myself? Even just for a second? Right then, right there, I felt confident that I would be able to do that. My faith was getting stronger. I could totally do that. But if I had known what the next situation was going to be, would I have felt so sure?
The next situation was a pretty big one, and it happened the very next day. I finished work at 5:30pm, and instead of going straight home, I went to the soccer field where Tyler was training. He was due to finish at 6:30pm, and I arrived 5 minutes early. My phone had rung a couple of times while I was driving, and I hadn’t been able to answer it. I checked it, and found several missed calls from Tyler’s coach and Rob. A text message said “How far away are you? Tyler’s hurt his shoulder.” I didn’t think much of it, but got out of the car and walked over to the pitch. There I saw my boy lying on the ground, covered with jackets and blankets, surrounded by his teammates, other parents and the coach. Tyler had fallen hard on his neck and shoulder, and couldn’t move. He was in horrendous pain. The other boys had heard a ‘pop’. The coach called an ambulance, which took an hour to arrive. As we waited, I comforted my boy and whispered prayers over him constantly. None of the kids or their parents wanted to leave, and we both felt so loved and supported. The ambulance finally arrived at 7:30pm and the paramedics put a cervical collar on Tyler. I went with him to hospital, and we spent the next 7 hours in the paediatric ED. The doctors suspected a broken collarbone and a possible neck fracture. He was in severe pain, and was given a massive cocktail of painkillers: Entonox, paracetamol, morphine, codeine, ibuprofen. We had to do a LOT of waiting. He had 8 x-rays taken of his neck and collarbone. When the results finally came back, we were told that his collarbone was broken, and the images of his neck showed an abnormality. He had to go back for a CT scan to rule out a broken neck. The situation, on paper, was quite scary. But throughout the whole thing, I felt God’s peace. I had to be strong for Tyler, who was also incredibly brave! We both prayed, over and over, pouring our hearts out to God as we asked for his healing and comfort. I have never felt closer to Tyler, it was very special. Our prayers were answered at 1:30am when the doctors came and told us there were no fractures, and the collar could finally come off. His neck is sprained and his collarbone is badly bruised, so he will need to wear a sling for a week or so. My wonderful Mum drove into the hospital to pick us up, since Rob would have had to wake Ethan up to come and get us. When I finally crawled into bed at 3am, tired and hungry, my heart was overflowing with gratitude to God for his presence and protection. It could have ended so very differently.
I never expected that a situation like that would come my way so soon, but in retrospect, it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth was. To walk the talk. Not once did I even try to deal with things in my own strength, because I knew I had none. I was weak, fragile, vulnerable, helpless. I needed God. I couldn’t do it alone. Handing the entire situation over to him from the very beginning gave me immense freedom and a huge amount of comfort. Yes, I was still scared. But I was not alone.
Rick Warren says, “Too often we see prayer as a last resort rather than as our first thought. Prayer is usually something you do way down the line after you’ve tried everything else. People will say, “I guess all we can do now is pray!” like it’s their last option. Prayer should be your first choice, not your last resort. If you want God to help you overcome the odds in any area of your life, you have to turn to him first.”