In the middle of last night I found myself in a hospital room.
Upon awaking I didn’t consider it strange that my dreams took me there in light of the circumstances of the past two weeks.
But this time the patient needed a new heart instead of new lungs.
I rode the elevator to the surgery waiting room with a stranger, but she looked at me with a flash of recognition.
“I’ve heard you pray!” she exclaimed with delight. “You pray like no one I’ve ever known.”
I smiled and thanked her and felt a little unsettled inside.
As I neared the door to the waiting area, another stranger greeted me in a similar way.
“You’re that lady who prays!” she sang out with enough admiration to make me feel even more uncomfortable.
I smiled again and mumbled something about believing God hears us when we pray.
To which she replied, “You pray like you believe a friend is listening, a close friend.”
Her words followed me into the waiting room, but were chased away by the scene I stepped into.
A long table decorated for a child’s birthday party filled the room. Cheerful balloons and brightly colored cups and plates seemed so out of place.
But the celebrating crowd was the strangest sight of all. How could they rejoice at a time like this? A little girl was about to undergo very serious transplant surgery. What were they thinking?
I looked around the room filled with happy faces and was surprised to see the patient sitting alone in the corner.
She was around 8 years old, I can picture her face even now. It revealed bitterness and anger.
I crossed the room and asked a man at the head of the party table why they were celebrating.
“Her heart is cold,” he replied. “God is about to do surgery on her so she won’t become hard-hearted.”
“That’s why we’re celebrating,” another man at the table piped in. “This painful trial is going to soften her heart, her cold, cold heart.”
I woke up shivering with chattering teeth.
I live near Fresno, California. With our valley’s heat, no one ever wakes in August with a chill. Never.
So I asked God why I was cold and if it had anything to do with my dream.
This Scripture immediately popped into my head:
Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-15 NIV
And I knew the girl needing heart surgery was me.
I’ve prayed lots of prayers lately that haven’t been answered the way I wanted.
I’ve suffered severe loss in many forms.
I’ve felt betrayed and trampled by someone I love more than my own life.
I’ve lost sleep night after night and cried enough tears to make my eyes permanently swollen.
And my heart has hardened.
Will I become angry and bitter like the girl awaiting surgery?
Or will I remain the woman of prayer even strangers recognize?
I choose prayer.
And this morning, I chose to pray a Psalm of David:
You want me to be completely truthful,
So teach me wisdom.
Take away my sin, and I will be clean.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
Let the bones you crushed be happy again.
Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt.
Create in me a pure heart, God,
And make my spirit right again.
Do not send me away from you
Or take your Holy Spirit away from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation.
Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:6-12 NCV
Before putting my dream into words on this page, I looked up the
verse from 1 Peter to make sure I remembered it word for word.
(I’d memorized it from the NIV.)
Out of curiosity I also looked it up in The Message.
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. 1 Peter 4:12-15 The Message
Life is hard.
But glory is just around the corner.