Praying for Theo
I am sitting in a hospital family room and 30 feet away Theo is fighting for life. Theo is the 15-year-old son of some of my dearest friends. I should be in despair. But I can’t find it.
Theo’s medical nightmare began during my last trip to Florida in October of 2011.
We picked Theo up from a soccer game. He had bruising all over his body. It didn’t make sense and couldn't be ignored.
After multiple visits to hospitals and doctors from Boston to Florida Theo was diagnosed with Myleodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). It’s the same disease Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” has been fighting.
Theo went through a bone marrow transplant last year, but his body has been rejecting it. Accordingly, his immune system has become so compromised he has been infected by a deadly fungus. There is every reason to believe that it is presently in his blood stream or shortly will be, and the result should be fatal.
Medically speaking, Theo should have been ushered to heaven by now.
Medically speaking it will happen today or tomorrow.
There is nothing more the doctors can do to attack the fungus.
Either the medicines kick in in the nick of time or God performs a miracle of healing. Actually, either would constitute a miracle.
As I sit here with Brant and Emily, Theo’s Mom and Dad, we should be overwhelmed with grief and sadness, if not bitterness.
But we are not. Rather we are experiencing the most curious thing: peace.
There is an overwhelming presence in our midst that is speaking peace to our souls. It is telling us all will be well no matter what happens.
The presence of peace in this time and place makes no sense, but it is undeniable.
Why is it here? Prayer.
How can I be so certain?
I’ve experienced this before.
When I lay dying.
I’ve fought thyroid cancer for over a decade and had many surgeries and hospital stays. During those times people from all over the world have prayed for me.
And I got what I didn’t ask for.
People prayed for healing, but what I received was the presence of the God of peace.
Since it is not what I prayed for I’ve never adequately appreciated it for the gift it is, until now.
As I sit with Brant and Emily I am overwhelmed with the presence of a peace that cannot be understood.
We pray for healing. The world is praying for healing, but the gift we have been given is the presence of God.
I’m only now beginning to realize that I’ve been praying for the wrong things even as God has answered the prayer I should have prayed for but didn’t.
I’m 54 years old, an ordained minister and until now I’ve missed the point of prayer and faith.
I’ve been so obsessed with asking God to take away people’s pain; I’ve not understood that there is something far greater than asking God to be a pain reliever. God wishes to grace us with his presence from the first day of our lives to the first day of the rest of lives. It is not healing that matters but being held in the arms of God and knowing his presence.
He doesn’t take away the pain, but he wishes to grace us with a presence that transcends the pain and carries us through all manner of pain and sorrow.
How do we get to access such comfort?
It has never been the case that I was miraculously healed, or so I perceive, but it is the case that on those days when the world was praying for me I felt this unexplainable deep sense of peace. The sense that I am being held in the arms of God and that all will be well, despite looking at the specter of death.
People on every continent, who have different religious convictions, are praying for Theo Menswar and I am sitting here in the hospital, with his parents, being blessed by the answer to these prayers, the presence of God.
I don’t know how many days Theo has.
I don’t know how many days I have.
None of us do.
But I know that what matters is being in the presence of God and that God listens to us when we ask, even as he responds in His own way.
I think he is trying to tell me what what we need is not "healing" but to abide in His presence yesterday, today, and forever.
Nothing else matters. Truly.
What good would it be to be healed and not feel what we feel now: the presence of God?
Keep praying for Theo.
Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D. is the author of “Sex and the iWorld. Rethinking Relationship Beyond the Age of Individualism.” He is a Professor of Politics at Saint Anselm College and founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Dale serves the Evangelical Covenant Church of America as an ordained minister, and is presently the Interim Pastor at the Monadnock Covenant Church in Keene, NH. He a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
©2013 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC