Last weekend we went to Miami to re-sign consent to get me back on the clinical trial. All the medical stuff went fine, I think we were in the clinic for a grand total of 20 minutes from checkin to checkout. But our return flight was cancelled. Twice. The second time we were sitting on the plane and it was cancelled at 10:40pm with no flights available to Nashville arriving until 6pm the next day. And we had left our sick 3 year old in Nashville at school, and she ended up staying with her Bobbie and Poppie until we got back. That was torture for this mom and dad. She did fairly well with her grandparents, and was happysad to see us (happysad is a very common toddler emotion, I'm learning).
There have been a lot of tears and 3-year-old-obstinance, and kicking and screaming and NO and crying and coughing and sniffling and sobbing and sleeping and not sleeping and exhaustion and changes of plans and barely making it work in the Sullivan house this week. This has not been a week of strength and grace for me. Its been a week of being pushed to the edge in every way, making everything seem impossibly difficult.
This week has been filled with so many absurd occurrences, untimely sicknesses, emotional outbursts, and unforeseen conflicts that I am certain that we are under attack. I wouldn't have come to this conclusion so quickly on my own, but remember a friend describing her similar circumstances recently and was amazed at her ability to immediately identify it as an attack from the enemy. She replied "it was just so obvious at that point, so many obscure things had happened that it was so clear that we were under an intentional attack." And I feel the same way right now.
In preparation for a Wednesday night class I helped teach recently, I read the book of Colossians (it's great, you should read it!). It starts out with an elaborate and eloquent praise of the church at Colossae for their faith and the way the gospel is bearing fruit through them.
34because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people...
This is followed by a specific prayer for these Christians, and then the body of the letter starts. What struck me while reading through Colossians this time is in chapter 4, as Paul is wrapping up his letter:
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4
And pray for us too... After giving the church such a beautiful and heartfelt prayer at the beginning of his letter, Paul ends by asking for prayers for himself.
I've been so skeptical about prayer in the past. Like, is it really any different if my 10 closest friends are praying for me than if 10,000 people are praying for me? I really don't think that if there are 9,999 people praying for me that God won't answer our prayers, because he's waiting for it to reach the 10,000 mark. I believe that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16), so does it really matter if it's one person praying or 10 people praying or 10,000 people praying? Also, if I'm being honest, it feels really weird to be on a prayer list, especially when I'm sitting in church looking at my name on said list, or when I don't even know anyone in the church for which I am on that list.
That's been a train of thought that chugs through my mind for the last few years. Of course there are other trains of thought that are more hopeful and that truly believe in the power of prayer and make me so thankful for the honor and support of so many prayers from so many believers. But that gloomy skeptic train has chugged along side those more beautiful and faithful trains as well.
Until I read Colossians a couple weeks ago. And pray for us too.
Paul asks for prayers. From all the Christians in a whole town. I don't know why, but this was a lightbulb moment for me. Seeing Paul ask for prayer from a lot of people seemed to be the piece that I needed to make it all click. And look at what he asks for!
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
Y'all, Paul is in JAIL and he asks that the doors would be opened not for his release, but for Christ's name to be proclaimed. WOWZERS. Paul also asks for prayers in Philippians and kind of in Philemon as well. That's two cities of people he asks to be praying!!
I mentioned a verse in James earlier, and I want to share that whole passage as well, because this was an important part of my lightbulb moment as well. From James 5:
13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Healing and forgiveness through prayer. Those things are hard to come by otherwise. Real hard. And there they are, offered in response to our prayers.
I don't have answers about the number of people who need to be praying. I have no idea how that works. And in light of the two passages above, I no longer feel the need to know, because I see what can happen through prayer and I see a faith giant asking whole cities of Christians for prayers on his behalf, and for the proclamation of Christ's message.
So here's what I want to ask from you. I want to ask with boldness and with great need, with gratitude and a sense of great honor if you oblige:
- Pray that we can proclaim the message of Christ through our story.
- Pray that "whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." -Eph 6:19
- Pray that I will be healed. Through medicine or miracle or alternative care or anything.
- Pray an end to the spiritual attack on our family. I've been praying this through tears and clenched fists over the last few days, and I need help.
- Pray that as we leave Tuesday (from our house at 4:45 am! NOOOOO!) with our toddler (at 4:45am! AAAAHHHH!!!!) to board a plane to Miami that travel will go smoothly, that our stay will be easy, and that we will have some FUN.
- Pray that the screening tests will let me on the trial.
- That my heart function would be over 45.
- That there will be a good spot to biopsy.
- That the biopsy shows ASPS (The biopsy is to monitor the tumor's response to the new meds more than to confirm the type of cancer, though it will be doing that as well. Since this is a trial for sarcomas, it will need to test as a sarcoma for me to be on the trial.)
- That CJ will be comfortable hanging out with John during my scans and tests.
- Pray for peace, for hope, for strength, for grace, and for joy. We've felt those being stripped from us this week, and we need the Spirit to bear his fruits in our hearts.
This week we will be in Miami Tuesday-Friday to complete all my screening tests. After we scheduled all the appointments and flights, I looked at my school calendar and realized that I will be able to give my final A&P exam on Monday and attend graduation on Saturday! What amazing timing! And speaking of timing, I have been able to teach through the end of the school year with few interruptions. That wouldn't have happened without the brain radiation hiccup postponing the clinical trial, not that I wanted that hiccup, but I think it's important to notice God redeeming hiccups like that. All 3 of us are going to Miami this time and for every trip in the month of June (I think). We are craving family time and have some special things planned for some of the times we are there.
Thank you for journeying with us, especially when it's hard and ugly like it has been this week. It's such a comfort to know that we are not alone!