“And then I did what I do when I have nowhere to go and nothing else I can do: I prayed.”
How many times has tragedy struck like lightening and you immediately hit your knees? Like when my Dad was rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night, we prayed. Or the time the car got stuck on the hill far from civilization during the worst fall blizzard in decades, I prayed with strangers. Even as they were rushing me into emergency surgery, blood gushing everywhere, I cried out the name of Jesus. Tragedy struck and I prayed.
I do that when I have know where to go and nothing else to do. I pray. And I bet you do to.
But what are we praying for?
Help? Deliverance from the trial? Breakthrough in the struggle? An answer? What if the response from heaven isn’t what we were praying for, what then?
In From the Deep: Hope’s Triumph Over Tragedy Beth Ayn details some of the most tragic things she has had to walk through. And when I read her phrase at the end of Chapter 1, I wondered.
Tragedy is something that sneaks up and knocks the wind out of your lungs. It’s ruthless in choosing its target, no one is exempt. We all have experienced some sort of tragic event; some sort of deep moment where ordinary was severed and became extraordinary. There in those moments we experience loss, rejection, pain. Doubts surface, fears rage, ache runs deep. And so we pray, as we should.
But when we pray the right prayers and quote all the right scriptures. When we hold hands and lift our eyes and bend our knees and bow our heads and the heavens stay silent. What does that mean?
When the paramedics were called to come save my dad I remember sitting in the living room next to the silent Christmas tree with my mom and little brother. We prayed. We prayed loud and hard. And at first, it was a shaky scared sort of prayer. But something came into the room, like a breeze. Something that didn’t have words.
A few minutes later they loaded up my father on a stretcher and wheeled him out the front door, into the ambulance. I stood there wrapped in my pink fluffy robe, too young to understand what risks were filling that ambulance cab. I didn’t know how close to death he was, I had no clue the medical terms they were using.
But I knew he’d be okay. I knew because I felt Him.
“Okay” can mean a lot of things, and in the wake of tragedy we don’t get to define them. But standing in the swirl of “what if’s” and “how can this be”, there’s a center pointe. Hope. In the middle of the raging circumstances and uncertainties, what we are really searching for is assurance. Sure, we pray for healing and rescue. But sometimes that healing and rescue looks like peace in the cancer ward or a hand to hold at a grave site.
Hope isn’t wrapped in outcomes. Hope is given in presence.
So when we are struck by tragedy, what we are really praying for is Emmanuel— God with us. And that prayer is always answered. Always.
*This post is part of a series about my new book coming out September 10th! Read all about it by clicking the picture below.