It has been nearly 25 years since the phone rang bringing us the terrible news that my younger cousin Jacob had been badly hurt. He had been playing with some neighbor kids and in a freak accident a guttering spike had been driven 6 inches into his brain. It entered between his eyeball and the orbital bone. He was rushed to the hospital, but the situation was grave and the doctors gave us very little hope that he would survive. It would take a miracle.
During this crisis, our family scrambled into action. Several hurried to the hospital to be with Jacob. Several others gathered at with my grandmother’s house to wait.
The usually light atmosphere at my grandparents’ house was replaced by one of heaviness and sorrow. Without much conversation, we gathered around Grandma who lay weeping on the couch. With Jacob barely clinging to life, we did the only thing we felt we could do. We prayed. I did not know it at the time but that prayer would forever change how I approached God in prayer.
As we began to pray, my grandmother could do nothing but weep. We prayed and she cried. She cried and said “Please, Father” under her breath as we timidly plead for Jacob’s healing. As the family prayer session went on, Mommaw started to pray.
There was no pretense or pleasantries in her prayer. At first it was agonizing to listen to her, but then the agony, while still present, began to give way as she charged boldly into the throne room of the Almighty. It was clear that she was asking for God’s help. She wanted Him to heal Jake, but it was also more than that. She also needed His presence, for without His presence she could not survive the pain. She needed to know that even in this terrible circumstance God was near. That He still heard and still cared.
By the time she really hit her stride in prayer, we had all stopped praying. We simply knelt quietly, and with our eyes wide open we watched Mommaw pray. We all knew she had taken us to a holy and intimate place. It was a place she seemed to know well; she had obviously been there before.
In those tense and fearful moments, Mommaw showed us that what we all really need in times of intense grief and sorrow is the Lord’s presence. We longed for Jacob’s healing—and by God’s grace and mercy we got what we wanted—but what we really needed more than anything else was God Himself. For He truly is our only hope in life and in death.