Grace Unknown, or, It’s a Wonderful Life
My dear wife is about in the middle of her treatment for her leukemia. Step one they call inception chemo. That involves roughly a month in the hospital with intense chemo. She made it through that and was happily found to be in remission. Now she goes once a month for a week of chemo, what they call consolidation chemo. The goal here is for remission to stick. She has had one of these treatments. Still ahead of us, God willing, is a stem cell transplant that has serious risks, but offers the hope of a cure. As with her previous two bouts with cancer I marvel at her strength, at her character, at her peace. I believe all of this is the result of the many hundreds if not thousands of prayers that have been made on her behalf. God has likewise upheld me and our children thus far through this ordeal. This too I believe is the result of faithful prayer by the saints.
I can’t, of course, prove objectively the power of your prayers on our behalf. It is certainly possible, however unlikely, that the Sprouls are simply a hardy bunch who would be doing this well without your prayers. It’s far more likely that had you not been praying that we would have collapsed in a heap a long time ago. But just as our Lord would not tell Peter how John’s life would end, just as Aslan would not tell Lucy about what might have been, so we are not shown alternative endings. The strength my wife exhibits does carry with it an imprint that tells us its ultimate source. It reads on the bottom not “Made in China” but “Birthed in Heaven.” But there is no specific information, no tag that reads, “Prayed for by Prayer Warrior #7165.”
That may well be for an important reason. While we remain terribly grateful for your prayers, and ask that they would continue, we want your prayers not because of their power, but because of the power of the One who hears your prayers. Prayer “works” not because of the power of the one making the prayers but because of the power of the One hearing the prayers. We are not, from one perspective, doing as well as we are because of the potency of your prayers. We are doing as well as we are because of the sovereign power of the One who ordained your prayers, who gave us this challenge, and who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death.
We are told what we need to be told. That we want to be told more is proof that we haven’t sufficiently believed what has already been revealed. Our prayers matter, in ways far too beautiful to be measured with a prayer-ometer. Your prayers are used by Him to make me think more deeply about prayer. They are used by Him to make us feel more closely His hand as we walk through this valley. They are used to fan the flames of my love for my wife and my children. They are used to teach me gratitude, to teach me that it is indeed a wonderful life, because of His marvelous death. Pray for us. And pray in gratitude that we serve a God who hears us, and loves us.