back from the dead

So, this has me a bit ruffled this morning.

I saw just the end of the interview and really don’t want to watch it again; I don’t want to relive the horror that we went through. I am in no way judgmental of what happened here.

(Obviously. Sigh.)

And I am so, so glad that this little boy is fine.

But what I don’t like is the attitude that the mama was proclaiming in her interview. To paraphrase: God brought him back from the dead for us. The lesson we learned is that God answers prayers. He answered our prayers. We had so many thousands of people praying for us and he heard us all and brought our son back.

Which today has me ruffled, but four years ago would have brought me to my knees and knocked me out of commission for a few weeks.

I think that’s just… mean, to be blunt. In my view, there’s not some divine scale where God piles up the prayers of the righteous and when there are enough to tip it, he grants that earnest wish.

Just: No.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that prayers are for articulating our desires and asking for what we need help with, and that there’s a reason prayers should end with: Your will be done. In my world, prayers are really about asking for help with processing what happens in this life and making the right choices, not for getting the job you want or that Mercedes you’ve been eyeing or even for bringing your child back to life.

And yes, I for sure don’t know how the whole thing works, and it’s quite likely that God puts His/Her/Our hand in the mix at times, when a greater good can be reached. If saving a planeload of passengers with an amazing landing on a river will bring more goodness to the world, God can by all means make that happen. Or staying the hand of a killer with an unignorable insight. Or bringing a toddler back to life. Yes.

And yes, I could easily have been saying that sort of thing, had Ward been similarly brought back to us. I can’t (well, yes I can) imagine the extreme relief and gratitude they are feeling.

BUT: I think it’s a cruel thing to say within earshot of people who have lost someone they love to painful disease or an out-of-the-blue accident, because why wasn’t their child or parent or friend saved? Weren’t their prayers heard? Should they have had a larger prayer chain? More candlelight vigils? A papal intercession? Did they not donate enough to the poor? Were their lives too blemished for their prayers to be answered?

Was it all their fault??

(No.)

And for that matter, I think God could (and perhaps does) accomplish a lot by the miraculous saving of the child of a family of big ol’ unrepentant sinners. Can you imagine the turnaround in priorities and the ripples of goodness that might come from that?

And…

Yeah, I’m ruffled.

**edited to add: I just skimmed through that article (kind of wish I hadn’t) and they did that same thing with Ward: the medically induced coma, the chilling blanket, to give his brain a chance to reduce swelling. I didn’t know it was experimental.

My stomach hurts.

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 18:57:38

    Oh J, That is a tough pill to swallow. I agree with your sentiments exactly. Prayer can be a wonderful thing, but it can’t always fix things. Keeping you in my thoughts today.

  2. mary in atl
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 20:14:35

    I am not a mother and can only barely imagine how all this would feel. But my thoughts here are simple……I believe in prayer. I also believe that we Don’t get to know the Why of everything in this life. I am so sorry that this story has hit so close to home in a painful way. I dislike that part of the “prayers” that have us in the role that ENOUGH could change the outcome , not ENOUGH fails our goals. I am sure He hears us and draws us close through prayers. Faith may get us through the hard places, impossible places but it doesn’t promise us that we won’t have pain & sorrow.

    Much love – Mare

  3. Jane
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 20:18:15

    Their story is different from yours. Only God knows why.

    Thinking of you.
    May you have peace.

  4. Meghan Cobble
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 20:59:50

    Mama Jamz-

    Prayer is miraculous. But we do not know God’s hand in it all. I see so much why I would imagine you are ruffled by this.

    In my prayers, I always want God to know His will is what is best for me and my family.

    I ask Him to help me understand His plan and help me to find peace in his presence in every situation I encounter.

    We all want hurt to end for those we love. We want happiness over sorrow.

    I think our time here is not to fully understand, but to fully grow in trust and faith in His omniscient plan. That is so much easier to say than to hold onto with open arms and without inhibition.

    I know I struggle with this daily. I guess that’s just the very nature of the imperfection in us all.

    Thankfully, God judges us not on our imperfections or our works.

    I am glad to see you communicate this contention in your heart. It helps me to see the graininess in deciding just what is and what is not God’s miracles.

    We will know one day.
    Just not fully in the days of this lifetime.

    .mac

  5. Mama Jamz
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 22:09:58

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    It IS all a mystery, and I know that the last thing this family wants to do is be hurtful with their statements right now. It’s territory they’re unfamilar with: they’re not thinking about the families whose babies *didn’t* get the miracle right now, they’re thinking about their extreme joy that their child is home with them.

    It’s just… hard. And I feel so much for the newly grieving parents who watched this, or the parents whose chid is in his or her very last days with a terminal illness. It would feel like a sock to the gut.

  6. Mama Jamz
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 22:10:21

    I wanted to add that I got goosebumps reading all of your responses. Thank you.

  7. Erin
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 04:22:36

    Sigh. Sending love and hugs.

  8. charmarie221
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 15:55:54

    Yes, your last comment up there about not thinking about the children who didn’t make it or who didn’t come out unscathed or who weren’t born perfect… how those people rejoice that God gave them their miracle… and the rest of us have to think for awhile, until we choose not to think that way anymore, What about us? Why didn’t he come through for us?

    and I’m sorry this article churned so much up for you…

  9. Trackback: God is not basing life & death decisions on who can rack up the most prayers | mamapundit
  10. Auntie Sue
    Mar 14, 2010 @ 22:50:09

    I have always held a firm conviction that God is not a puppeteer in the sky pulling one string and not another. God is God and we never will understand why things happen as they do. I have had some prayers answered and others not answered – or not as I hoped and prayed.

  11. e
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 13:09:40

    I’m not religious. I don’t believe in God or gods or any kind of higher power. I’ve also never lost a child. All of that being said, it’s always made me feel sick to my stomach when I hear people say that God saved their child.

    When I was a teenager a toddler cousin of mine needed a heart transplant. He got one and the family had a party to celebrate once he was recovered. Their family priest was there and said a prayer before we ate. I’ll never forget that he said “God heard this family’s prayers.” I got cold chills thinking about the family whose child died so my cousin could live. The family whose prayers weren’t answered.

    I guess I’m just trying to say, these comments have always seemed so misguided and hurtful to me, so I can’t imagine how they must feel for someone who has lost someone so tragically. Your blog is beautiful and your love for your family is so palpable.

  12. Mama Jamz
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 17:31:38

    Thank you, Sue and e and Char and Erin. I’m glad that I’m far enough along with the grief that this is just a little bump for me. It’s nice to talk about it with you all.

    It just occurred to me that a corollary to this kind of thinking is equally troubling: that God TOOK my child away from me to punish me for some reason. And the anger and bitterness that would bring would be really hard to live with, and seems like it would surely shatter your faith.

    And yes, e, we heard some upsetting things after donating Ward’s organs. The worst was – “I’m so glad this all has had a happy ending!” Which was just stunning and so bizarre that it almost didn’t even hurt to hear it, it was just CRAZY. I have no doubt that Ward is pleased that his organs were useful to a little girl and to a grown-up man, and I believe strongly that this was all planned out before he was even born, but that doesn’t mean at all that I am happy that he is no longer alive.

  13. mary in atl
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 00:11:19

    Nothing compared to life & death but I alwys hate the sports teams who say “God was on our side today” like the other team were playing for the devil or something……

  14. Suzanne
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 00:22:15

    I think that prayer is a manifestation of love, but I don’t believe it has any power other than in a psychologically supportive role. It makes me feel better to know that people care about me, care about the outcome of my crisis/illness, etc. but I have no illusion that any ‘greater good’ is achieved through the outcome, and I certainly don’t think that prayer changes the outcome, and that’s okay.. Our fates are based to a large degree on dumb luck, good and bad. In a way, that is much easier to accept than feeling judged.
    Bad things happen to good people every day. Good things happen to bad people. That’s justl life, not a punishment or reward.

  15. teresa
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 15:28:15

    I am simply in awe of you. You amaze me. You encourage me.
    To see you strolling the streets of BB with PURE JOY all over your face, beaming with the desire to simply enjoy the day the Lord has made….in the face of sooo much loss, pain and sooo many rude comments (even if they are made in ignorance). I have not experienced loss in the way you have, but in my own journey, the longing and loss never goes away. Each day is a surrender all over again. It is beautiful to see you choose to trust in the Lord’s character and will. It simply amazes me that one could even get out of the bed after all you have walked through…the only explanation is HOPE, FAITH, and LOVE (maybe somedays sheer desire to reverse flip off the devil…hehe)….but truly your life is a testimony to relationship with God and trusting him. You are a dear!!!

  16. Mama Jamz
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 15:49:38

    I hear you, Mary. That one always amuses me, too: God, please grant our team this victory and help us crush our opponents. Ha.

    And yes, Suzanne -” It makes me feel better to know that people care about me, care about the outcome of my crisis/illness.” I would go even further to say that prayer might even help us feel better, sending those feelings of support can actually help GIVE support. We actually felt physically/emotionally strengthened when lots of people were praying for us after Ward’s accident. I can’t remember where I read it, but it resounded with me that not only do prayers of blessing help people feel soothed and strengthened, but (inwardly) cursing and hating people actually makes them feel bad.

    Teresa, you are so sweet to say all of that. We try to honor Ward’s life (and our own) by being happy and joyful and kind, but there are plenty of times we are crabby and selfish and ticked off. Those times of perfect happiness are priceless, though. And yes, “Each day is a surrender all over again.” Absolutely. A lot of the spiritual work I did after Ward’s accident was in submitting to what happened. Not arguing with it and not being mad, but just trusting that Ward was okay and where he ought to be and I’m where I ought to be. It was hard. For me, it’s all about the faith. My biggest prayer is for strengthened faith. I know I can handle anything with that.

  17. Michael
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 17:20:55

    I am a single parent and I still completely agree with you. The idea that one kid was chosen where as millions weren’t is a bunch of crap. Sure, I would love for my boy to be saved from some catastrophic event, but I honestly think we should never ask god for ANYTHING, that by doing so it defeats the purpose of free will. I have southern babtist parents who love to talk about that one with me.
    I do understand that if my son died my oppinion would undoubtedly change dramitically, but, as everything else in life, its best to have an outside oppinion.
    All in all, its the idea that god would have to have proved his existence to such a thing and that would/could never happen.

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