Wrestling with God is Painful

Wrestling with God is Painful

Wrestling with God is not unusual for me.

I often feel the need to pound on God’s chest and ask why he seems so slow with his answers. Especially when I’m praying for something good for his children. Hearing “yes” from God seems so essential. And urgent.

But the burden of a parent praying for a child in crisis—physical, emotional, or spiritual—is like no other type of wrestling with God.

And adult children have no fewer scary situations to pray about than young children.  The trip home after the week of visiting our recovering daughter and tiny NICU grandson, born not breathing, was a clear example of that.

Heavy-hearted, we boarded the plane to return home. Our week with our daughter’s family following her complicated C-section and resultant repair surgery had ended. But her painful journey continued.

At our first airport, her text had just alerted us that she might need to return to the hospital for IV treatment of a stubborn incision infection. What about her tiny baby, recently released from NICU?!!

Arrow prayers for new mama, for baby, for new daddy, for healing, for stability, and for their peace in their Heavenly Father’s arms. Furiously I sent texts and messages to as many people as I could think of to ask for their prayers before I boarded that plane.

Then my real struggle began: “Lord, why? They have trusted you through so much already. Isn’t it enough?  You are a good God. Remember your love for your children! Have mercy on them.”

I cried and prayed through the whole flight home.

And God reminded me that his mercy for my children is endless. In my pounding at his door for answers, he reminded me of his so-much-greater pain in Jesus’ death.

I realized that I often thank Jesus for his suffering for our salvation, while neglecting to thank the Father for the agony he suffered in causing his Son to go through such pain for me and for all who love Him.

His pain was exponentially greater than mine. I am in awe.

Father, thank you for your sacrifice as a parent. Jesus, thank you for your life of sacrifice and death of sacrifice. Holy Spirit, thank you for being with us and offering us your peace through it all.

My daughter’s text had requested prayer that quick healing—after so many failed antibiotics—would prevent her forced return to the hospital. If not, she requested prayer that she would be able to glorify God through her return to the hospital.

That request showed me an example of miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of his people. The Lord reminded me that he brings healing of all kinds.

He said to me, “Peace, my child. Be still, and know that I am God.”


Before God healed my daughter’s body, he healed my heart of a different ailment: the perceived need to be able to take care of my daughter myself. I needed to trust him to do that.

When Children Won’t Pray

When Children Won’t Pray

What do you do when you have been praying regularly with your children and suddenly they won’t pray?

It happened to us a number of times. For multiple reasons. As adults, sometimes we are too angry to pray. We want time to think about what we are feeling without bringing God into it. Or we may feel that the person asking us to pray is trying to manipulate us to be on her or his side. We could even be right. It happens.The same thing happens with children.

As we know for ourselves, being prodded into praying when we are not there  emotionally DOES NOT WORK.

Our children may mouth the words we want them to say, but they are still angry. They are not praying. They are simply performing under pressure. Talking to them about how God understands our anger and wants to hear from us anyway is worthless. True, but usually worthless in that moment.

We can see in the many angry psalms in the Bible that God wants to hear from us in our anger and despair, but that can be hard for our children to understand.

We need to model it. And we need to cry out to God in front of our children. They need to see that we cry to God about daily frustrations. That he is not just there to be thanked and to be prayed to for our important needs. But he is there for us for everything.

I wish I had done more of this with my children when they were young.

By the time they were adolescents, I had grown to be able to talk to him out loud in snatches at various times when they were with me. It had become my habit. Hearing me pray to God out of frustration over their situations gave them a deeper sense of who God is and what our relationship is. Just think how great it would have been if I could have started that with them as infants and toddlers. They would have known that God is there to be talked to even when we are not stopping our activity to pray and even when we are upset.

I’m quite sure I would not have vented to God about my daughters in their hearing.

My guess is that my modeling of verbal prayers for my daughters would have sounded much more positive than frustrated, because I would have been turning to God in that moment. I’ll bet I would have prayed something like, “Lord, help me and _______ in this difficult situation. Help us to figure out how to do what you want us to do.” How much better that would have been!

When I pray, I know God works in my heart.

He also works in my heart when others pray for me. The same is true for our children, especially when they hear the prayers. When children won’t pray, we need to pray for them. Even in their hearing.