For both Drake and I, prayer has changed. Since crying out to our Heavenly Father to heal Jud, yet instead enduring his death, each of us have experienced a reshaping of our approach to God through prayer. But interestingly, our responses have been diametrically opposite.
In truth, this has been a challenge in our relationship over the last two years.
My prayers have basically consisted of hurling my feelings at the feet of my Father, expressing my struggles, my questions, my frustrations. As Phillip Yancey writes in Disappointment with God, I have trusted that “you can say anything to God. Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment—he can absorb them all.” But while pouring out all my feelings, I have been dreadfully afraid to make any request wherein I run the risk of God answering “no” again. I have generally avoided supplication, wanting to protect myself. But I have conversed at length with God about this struggle, trusting he understands my reticence.
While Drake has also lamented to his Father, he has conversely pursued God through supplication all the more, regularly seeking opportunities to beseech the Lord to move powerfully in various circumstances. His frequency of requests has increased, engaging regularly in intercessory prayer.
Whereas I have found it incredibly difficult to ask God for anything in which I might experience more disappointment or pain, Drake has been asking all the more; these differences in such a raw area have triggered conflict.
I have been mystified by Drake’s response, even accusing him of denying the pain associated with our unanswered prayer for Jud, not able to understand how he can so easily seek God’s intervention in other areas after our loss. Meanwhile, I have felt pushed in one my most vulnerable areas, as if he is alleging that my response is misguided. We have both felt defensive, alone, and even threatened in our prayerful pursuits.
For the longest time, neither of us could grasp the perspective of the other. But something recently changed. In a vulnerable conversation full of frustration and tears we had a break-through of understanding…
Drake, in his brokenness, having sought God for Judson’s healing with such reckless abandon, is desperate to see firsthand the power of God’s intervention, to know that his pursuit was not futile. Even if God did not move supernaturally in Judson’s body, he wants to see God move.
On the other hand, in my brokenness, having sought God for Judson’s healing with reckless abandon, I am afraid of not experiencing God’s intervention again, to feel more pain from unanswered pursuit. Where Drake longs to see God move, I fear not seeing God move.
Interestingly, both our responses engage the pain and engage God, they are just different. And it reminds me of our acute need to be understood, to be given the space and freedom to feel our ache without judgment.
I am also especially grateful to serve a God who knows and loves us in our strife, and whatever the circumstance whispers, “Pray as you can, and don’t try to pray as you can’t,” (J.I. Packer in A Grief Sanctified).