Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, dealt with the personal tragedy of a child who dies of an incurable condition: progeria, the aging disease. This tragedy caused him to rethink everything he had once felt so secure in believing about suffering, prayer, and God. He writes that prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us, a sentiment that echoes the writing of Christian author and novelist C.S. Lewis. Although God answers our prayers, the answer may not be what we want to hear, or may not be the miracle we hoped for.
After his son Aaron’s diagnosis at age 3, Kushner prayed fervently and constantly for a cure. It didn’t materialize. Aaron died at age 14 weighing no more than 25 pounds, in a body ravaged with the signs of old age. Kushner’s faith in an all-powerful God was shaken. But after four years of reflection he became aware of an unexpected miracle in his life: his marriage had survived Aaron’s death and had become even stronger as a result. It wasn’t what he had prayed for, but he was nonetheless grateful for this sign of God’s grace.
What about us? What have you been praying for, and what miracles have gone unnoticed? I think if we take the time we will discover God is at work in our lives in many small and perhaps not so small ways: in the generosity of strangers, the hospitality of friends, the love and support of family, even in the power and magnificence of nature. We may not have all our prayers answered, but I think you will find that God is with us as we struggle to survive and overcome..