A few weeks ago I sat in the pews as my colleague and senior pastor led the prayers of the people, and I lifted one for Lucia’s upcoming surgery. My voice wavering, I asked for prayers not just for the doctors, for health, and for our little girl, but for my husband and for me. I explained that in facing another surgery that could have mixed results, I’d grown a bit weary and leery, and my faith was faltering. It’s so hard as a parent to make decisions for your child that involve both risk and reward. Lucia was doing so well, and I wondered whether another surgery was the most faithful decision. Could the congregation be my faith, could they lift prayers for us even as we were feeling weak? I wondered aloud.
Mind you, I’m one of the pastors of this church, and I wasn’t sure how prayers for faith from one of the spiritual leaders in their midst would be received. But not a person came up to me that Sunday scolding me for my weakness, my fears, or my lack of faith. Instead, I remember lots of assurances that prayers would be lifted, many looks of concern on their faces as I spoke my prayer, and many knowing, earnest nods as I let them know that even for a pastor, sometimes faith is hard to come by.
Several weeks have passed, and Lucia’s surgery has not only brought her incredible comfort from reflux, but she is now feeding into her stomach (instead of her small intestine), an intervention that seems to bring her the satisfaction of feeling full and the comfort and freedom of having natural breaks from feeding throughout the day. However, it is hard to describe the extent of the intangible transformation for her and for us: it feels as if there’s a part of her spirit that has been set free, and we are all growing closer, as she’s more alert, communicative, and joyful.
As I reflect on the miraculous results of this surgery and this transformation, I am left with no other explanation than that God did that. This summer I felt that Lucia’s intestinal feeding tube had provided her unprecedented comfort, happiness, and tranquility, but these past few weeks, a transformed Lucia has smiled up at us, and I am in awe and so deeply grateful.
But God didn’t just surprise us by transforming Lucia; rather such transformation is apparent in us as parents because of the faithful who love Lucia for who she has been, will be, and who she is. I’m writing this today because it’s so important to talk about what God has done and what God can do even when we struggle to believe, how God’s faithfulness transcends our wildest imagination. And I believe that those people in the pews who love Lucia so unconditionally are part and parcel of who I know God to be. What a gift it is to be part of a community of faith who accept me for my weaknesses, who pray for my child, and who do these things not because they expect results or know what’s in store, but because they desire to trust God–they are the faithful.
And I am so grateful that in faith, we don’t have to go it alone–that God’s transformation happens through people, through prayer, and in us. I am so grateful that after all these years God is still full of surprises and one of those is that even when you falter, there’s faith enough for the least of these, for the faithless, the weary and the leery. In a world which doesn’t always recognize Lucia as fearfully and wonderfully made, it’s kind of miraculous that I’m surrounded by people who actually keep reminding me of that.
And the fact that God did all that–well, these days my faith runneth over! And you can borrow it when you need it someday, I’m deliriously humbled and happy to owe you all a prayer or two. Perhaps that how faith works: we owe it all to God and to one another, but in being bound to one another, we are set free.