The Thing about Unanswered Prayers
こんにちは! Hello and welcome to our very first blog post! We finally did it. We’ve been wanting to start this blog for at least a year now, and we’re so glad you’re here to read the first of many to come! Here is where we share, beyond our newsletter, an extra peek into our family, and a little of what life and ministry looks like for us:
This summer my family took a trip to the city of Akita for the Church of Christ national convention. Although, yes it was an eight hour drive with young kids (with how many false alarm bathroom stops!), we were
foolishly optimistically looking forward to it! We had been planning for this trip it for several months. Spoiler alert: As most of you parents know, if you have big plans, someone will get sick… The week before we were going to leave for Akita, our youngest daughter Maye caught a summer cold. She had a fever beginning on Thursday, and we were set to drive to Akita the following Monday. I reassured myself that, as she usually did, her fever would burn for a day or two and then she would be well for travel. That’s what I was hoping anyway!
We let her rest and gave her lots of fluids and I prayed specifically that the fever would be gone by Friday, the next day, because we had friends coming over to celebrate Naomi’s birthday on Saturday. Friday morning came, and I was hopeful that she was on the mend, but she had a fever spike by mid-morning and slept most of the day. Frustrated, I asked God why He hadn’t taken away her fever. In the back of my mind came, “His plan is the best”, ugh, I brushed off the thought. I just want my kid to be well, and selfishly wanted for none of our plans to be hampered. I prayed again that the fever would go away, and that none of the rest of us would get sick. My prayers were much like someone rubbing the genie’s lamp, focused only on my want, not on who God is.
Saturday she rested and fought a low fever all day. We had friends over and kept Maye quarantined in her room away from company, (which wasn’t hard to do as she slept all day, poor baby!). Again, (rubbing the lamp), maybe with a little more humility, I prayed for the fever to go and that none of the rest of us would get sick.
Well again, if you have kids you already know what happened. Sunday morning came, and not only Maye had a fever, but also Naomi. I was stressed to put it lightly. We kept the girls home from church and prayed, in earnest humility this time, about what to do, as we were supposed to leave the very next day, and now had two sick kids.
Again and again, I prayed, and I was distraught. My husband Travis was a main speaker at the convention. We were traveling with Haruka and Tim, whom we work with at Machida Church of Christ, and they as well as myself all had responsibilities in the convention program. I worried if Travis and I both went and took the girls along, we might share germs, and get Haruka and Tim sick. However, if the girls and I stayed home, someone else would have to pick up my responsibilities on top of their own. I also really wanted to go support Travis as he was speaking at the convention.
Sunday night was hard. Maye did not sleep well. Whereas she usually sleeps a solid ten to twelve hours at night, that night she was awake half the night. We were simultaneously caring for sweet Maye, trying to pack and prepare the house for at least Travis to leave the following day, if not all of us. AND we were still unsure what to do, as we didn’t know how the girls would be in the morning.
So as an aside, here’s a little about me: I’m a “what if” person. I struggle to simply see what is, and not worry about what might be. I second guess and go over and over what is best in a given situation. I go over the what ifs, pros and cons, back and forth…its exhausting; just ask Travis! I prayed, but even so, I was angry and I couldn’t understand why both of my girls were still sick. Here comes my self-righteousness: Surely God wanted us to go serve at the convention. (As if He needs us at all!) Surely He wanted me to be at the convention to support Travis. I had rubbed that lamp all weekend! In my (cough), flawless logic, the obvious answer, that solution, the best thing was that our girls should have been well by now! So the “what ifs” would all be nicely tucked away, and we could leave reassured that we made a wise choice for our girls and the rest of the group.
Well Monday came and they both still had fevers. Our group had planned an extra day to spread out the long hours of driving to Akita, and Haruka and Tim graciously offered to delay leaving for another day. We took the girls to the doctor to make sure it was nothing more than a summer cold, which they confirmed it was not. We spent our much needed buffer day letting the girls rest and finishing what we had been scrambling to finish on Sunday night, so that by Tuesday morning, the girls were fever free, we were packed and we set off on our long drive.
Although it took me all weekend, I finally remembered that regardless of what I can see, what looks best to me, God is above all of it, and He knows and chooses what’s best for us. When Monday came, although my prayers for healing had not been answered, I no longer felt stressed and anxious about the trip. I had brought my worries to God and He had given me peace to rest in, even though I didn’t know how things would go the next day.
I still don’t know why He allowed Maye to be sick for so long, and for Naomi also to catch the cold. For all we know, it may have been for our protection, like what if we were prevented from an accident on the road on Monday, or maybe we would have all gotten food poisoning at a rest stop on the way. I will never know all the reasons, and plans God had for our trip, because I am simply not God.
What I do know and see was His provision in the small things along the way. Travis and I finished writing an important letter that we otherwise would not have completed before our trip without the travel delay. And although we had hoped to break up the driving to Akita with a full day spent at a cabin on the coast, we had the luxury of that extra day to use for the girls recovery at home without interfering with the convention schedule. We even received a birthday package from Naomi’s grandma that Monday that could have been returned to the States as we would not have been there to receive the mail for several days! And who wants to pay shipping to Japan twice, not me!
It is easy to question God in my finite understanding, but the Bible reminds me that I have a loving Father and I can trust in His provision and protection. Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” This verse draws the comparison between man and God: humans are evil and God is not. Though we may do some good things, we all have the capacity for, and frequently do, sin and evil. God on the other hand has no capacity for sin. He cannot sin and is not evil; He is by nature, perfect, righteous, loving, and good.
The point of this comparison of good and evil categorizes the difference between our heavenly Father and earthly parents . Though I am not perfectly good, as God is, even as an earthly parent, I delight in my children! I love to give them things that I know they will enjoy! And I love to be able to give them the things they ask for. So if I, as an imperfect, sinful person can give good things to my girls, I can trust in a righteous, good, loving God; I can trust that He will give the best things to His children. I can trust that when I pray, He hears me, and he has my best in mind when He answers, even if He’s not answering my
lamp rubs, prayers like I had hoped.
Thanks for reading, thanks for being here! Tell us if you have anything your curious about regarding ministry and life in Japan for future posts.