“But Mommy,” Drew said after bath time, “I asked God four times to not have bad dreams, and he didn’t answer me. Why didn’t he answer my prayer?”
My heart sank. I had always prayed with Drew when he got scared at night. I taught him to pray to God himself because God wants to hear from him. And now, my 7-year-old took a leap of faith and prayed on his own during the night and yet he woke up terrified from a nightmare at 4 a.m. More terrified than I had seen him in a very long time. And the fear continued to haunt his mind during next day.
I was a little angry at God, actually. Is answering his prayer really too much to ask of you? I started panicking, thinking, this is it. Drew’s crisis of faith moment, and because you didn’t answer his prayer he’s going to question your whole existence. Are you that uncaring?
Of course, I knew He wasn’t. But at this moment, looking at big blue confused eyes staring at me, I had no idea how I was supposed to handle this situation. The truth is, I don’t know why God doesn’t answer some of our simple prayers either. But in the recesses of my heart, God reminded me, once again, that I can entrust Drew’s heart to Him. He’s got this.
Off the cuff, desperate to give Drew some sort of answer, I spouted out the only thing I could think of. “Tell God how angry you are. He can take it. He always wants you to come to Him. Don’t ever stop coming to Him. This is the biggest part of faith. You have to believe that God is good, he loves you, and he wants the best for you. Even when you don’t understand it. Even when it makes no sense. Even when he doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want. Trust that he’s good, no matter what.”
That night, as we were getting ready for bed, Drew asked me to read the Bible to him. We had been reading in the Psalms, and after I read Psalm 6, I glanced at the first verse of Psalm 7. All of a sudden it all became clear.
“Lord, my God, I take refuge in you.” (Psalm 7:1a)
“Drew, do you know what a refuge is?” I said, as he shook his head. “Let’s say you’re out in the snow on a cold day, and you’re freezing. Where do you want to go?”
“Yes, someplace warm. Someplace that will shelter you from the snow and the cold. This verse is telling us that God is that for us. We could very well ask him to take away the snow, and he could, but he’d much rather hold you tight so you can feel his love in the midst of what rages around you.
“Jesus tells us constantly not to fear. It’s not the bad dreams that are the problem. It’s the fear. The bad dreams cause you to be scared. Well, Jesus doesn’t want us to fear. Fear is not part of him at all. So when those bad dreams come, picture yourself running to God, allowing him to protect you from fear. Call on him and don’t stop. Bask in his comfort. And call for me anytime and I will comfort you, too.”
At that, we prayed and he went to sleep.
The next morning, I happened to be reading in Luke 22 when I found something that solidified that there was a bigger lesson for Drew than God being a magic genie who would take away his bad dreams:
[Jesus said], “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Jesus, who is one with the Father, could have very well protected Simon Peter from the sifting. He could have protected him from the crisis of faith that would surely result. He could have protected him from the pain. But instead of protecting Simon Peter, he chose to let him endure the hardship for a greater lesson. A greater faith. Jesus chose instead of focusing on Simon Peter’s comfort to focus on what was more important – his faith.
Yes, God is trustworthy, even when I don’t understand. He is faithful. He was faithful to give me the words to say, a Scripture to teach Drew, and a Scripture to teach me.
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t question my adequacy as a mom. I’m constantly failing. I wonder if I’m doing irreparable damage to my kids’ hearts sometimes. But this experience reminded me that God is greater than my weaknesses. And as long as I continue coming to Him, continue seeking him, continue trusting him, He will give me what I need as mom at the right time.
Thank you, Lord, for being greater than Drew’s fears of bad dreams. Thank you, Lord, for being greater than my fears of failing my children. Thank you, Lord, for unanswered prayers. Thank you, Lord, that you’re good. Thank you, Lord, that you’re trustworthy. Thank you, Lord, that you’re faithful.