Wendy Van Eyck is a generous-hearted soul who has seen her husband through eighteen rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. She blogs thoughtful devotionals which come from a heart made soft by suffering. She has just written her first e-book, which you can download for free here. It’s a pleasure to have her story here:
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
We were newlyweds with dreams and hopes and the taste of unreality on our lips. Xylon and I were fresh off the plane from a 7-week trip around South East Asia when we sat in a doctor’s office and were told that my husband had cancer?
All of sudden fears started taking the form of questions:
- Will he live?
- Will I be a widow in my first year of marriage?
- What will chemotherapy be like?
- Will our marriage make it through this?
- Will we be able to have children?
- Will our marriage make it through that?
- Will he live?
No amount of grounding can make you brave in the face of news like that. Which is why I went home and cried.
We’ve spent the last 18 months between hospitals and doctors and scans. We’ve experienced the joy of completing chemo and the despair of being told the cancer is back.
I’ve brushed handfuls of my husband’s hair off our bedding, held him in the middle of the night when he’s shaking from a fever and left the room when he’s received a bone marrow biopsy. Xylon has spent 20 nights in isolation in hospital while his bone marrow was killed and then reborn in a stem cell transplant.
And I’ve found myself praying unthinkable prayers like, “God, please help my husband to have chemo tomorrow!”
I never thought I’d be praying that my husband would have chemo.
Oh, the prayers I’ve prayed that I never thought I’d have to.
Un. Thinkable. Prayers.
Almost, unsayable prayers.
I would wonder what God thought of, if the Lord understands the pain and hope intertwined as I stuttered them out. Sometimes as I prayed them I felt like I was betraying my husband but I didn’t know how else to pray.
I wondered as I prayed if God threw them away and wondered how I dared to pray them in first place.
Then one day I stumbled over an unthinkable prayer in the bible.
It’s a prayer of a broken woman, the petition of a woman who has nowhere else to lay her hope but in God and it was said by Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10-11, “Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.”
Hannah prayed a bargaining prayer, a last hope prayer, a prayer that laid all her pain out before God and said, “Lord, do something!”
And God did.
God heard her. And God gave her a son. A son, Hannah gave back to God.
I’m not saying that bargaining prayers are the way to communicate with God, or that sacrificing our hopes or promising to give everything to God, is the way to get what we want in prayer. In fact, I think this type of prayer is often how I try to manipulate God into coming round to my way of thinking.
What I am saying is that God hears our unthinkable prayers.
God hears the prayers that we thought we’d never pray, the words that we hope no one ever knows we asked of God and the appeals that we literally sob through heaven’s gates.
God hears every word.
God opens his ears to the breaking of your heart and the sighing of your soul.
I believe God answers every unthinkable prayer.
Does God always answer our prayers the way we want? No, that would be unthinkable.
In fact when it comes to my unthinkable prayers I think I’ve seen very few of them answered the way I wanted them to be.
When that happens I’m tempted to pray like Hannah, “God, if you’d just stop neglecting me, and go into action for me. Then everything will be okay.”
Funny thing is, over the last two years, I may not have always seen the answers to prayers but I have known God’s presence. I can’t really explain it, but God’s been there.
As I’ve whispered my unthinkable prayers God’s answered by opening my eyes to beauty growing out of hard places, hope flowering in terrible circumstances and love winning in hospital wards and on honeymoons.
Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story at ilovedevotionals.com and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, Life and More Life”. She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and twitter.
Over to you:
- When have you found yourself praying an ‘unthinkable prayer’?
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