We recently went through a very scary situation with our four-year-old. He caught a somewhat common childhood virus, but things went completely awry and he ended up spending several days in the hospital.

Sitting there in that hospital room, I’ve never felt more helpless or more desperate. I was beside myself with panic. Is he going to be okay? Should I have brought him in sooner? What if things get worse? The questions and worst-case scenarios washed over me like a tidal wave of fear.

I know God’s character. I know that He ultimately holds all of our lives in His hands. But when it came to trusting that my baby would be okay? I’m sorry, but all the years of Bible studies, small groups, and teachings weren’t enough. I just couldn’t access any peace, only panic.

parents in community with arms around one another for support
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There was a time when I thought of telling someone I would pray for them as a bit of a cop-out. I mean sure, I am a Christian, and I know prayer can be powerful. I’ve never thought of prayer as wasted. Still, sometimes it also seemed like something people would say to avoid having to actually do anything. Don’t want to volunteer? Don’t want to bring a meal? Don’t want to (insert any helpful task)? “I’ll pray for you.”

When everything started unraveling with my son, friends kept texting me, asking me what they could do to help. Could they bring a meal? Could they help with our other kids? Could they bring us anything at the hospital? The fact is, there really wasn’t anything anyone could do except pray, and that’s what I told them.

I didn’t think I would find that very comforting, but truthfully, it was the one thing I did find some comfort in. These weren’t hollow offers of prayer. They were genuine prayers of love and concern for my son, for our family. When our prayer community said they were praying for us, I knew that was exactly what was happening.

To be clear, comforting does not mean comfortable. I felt like the pit of anxiety in my stomach was going to eat through the rest of my insides. My heart was pounding so hard, it was as if I could hear and feel it in my head. Their prayers were a tiny seed of comfort in a horrible time, and when there’s really no comfort to be had, well, you’ll grasp that seed and hang onto it for dear life.

I couldn’t yet rest in the knowledge that my son would be OK, but at the very least, I was able to know there were people out there praying on my son’s behalf, asking God for help. It helped me feel less alone, and there are few things lonelier than watching your whole world lying in a hospital bed, fighting a serious illness.

Forging community is hard. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort—all things that are sometimes in limited supply for parents—but it’s worth it. When life happens, it’s important to support one another. Sometimes that support is tangible—financial help, mowing a lawn, babysitting kids—but sometimes that support looks like prayers offered up in the night.

We need these people in our corner—people who can speak life into us when we are struggling, people who can point us toward what we know at a time when we’re just too scared to point ourselves.

We get to do this for others, too. I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt powerless to help someone who was suffering from afar. The only thing I could do was pray for them. So I did. When I say I will pray for someone, I do it right then and there, no waiting. I want them to know they are not alone with what they’re facing.

Parenthood is full of struggles. Sometimes the struggles are small in the scheme of things, but sometimes, the struggles are major and life-changing. We can’t really stop another’s pain. We can’t take away their load, only God can do that.

But we can help them carry it.

{This article originally appeared on Her View From Home.}


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  1. Energy is an incredible force. When my daughter was in the ER I just remember being so scared I could only laugh it off and pray that no one came in with bad results. We were so lucky. Sending love your way.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I, too, feel like “I’ll pray for you” is a cop out. I am in a season of life where I’m questioning all kinds of things related to faith and spirituality. I’m thankful for a patient and loving church and community as I navigate through this. Your story is very well written. I could feel the peace you carry in your words.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thank you so much for saying that — you’re too kind. I’m glad you are in a patient and loving community. All church communities should be that way, but sometimes they’re not, so I’m glad you’ve found a good one! One thing our pastor has always said is that God is big enough to handle our questions and the last place you should be is at a church that shames you for asking.

      Thank you for reading!

  3. Prayer and your relationship with God can get you through even the hardest times! I am so glad you had so many people unite together in prayer for your family. We will continue to pray for you!

    1. Hi Jena,

      Thank you so much! Yes, it really is powerful when you can see the church and your community really rally around you (or someone else) when it’s so needed. It’s one of those you-never-want-it-to-happen-to-you-but-it-turned-out-okay-so-now-you’re-thankful-for-it situations (that was a lot of hyphens lol).

      Thanks so much for reading!

  4. When my son was 3 months old, we had a scare. He was sick with an unreasonably high fever. 103.5 degrees F. The Emergency Room staff didn’t believe me. They told me that wasn’t possible and that the thermometer I had must’ve not been working right. They sent us with some interns as it was a good learning opportunity for them. They sent them away real quick when they took my son’s temp and it was indeed 103.5. It was scary, especially for him being so little. He was admitted for a few days. Thankfully, nothing ended up being wrong and it went away after 3 days, but God was that the scariest, most helpless 3 days of my life in that hospital. You are so strong. Thank you for sharing!

  5. I couldn’t agree more. My family went through a season of extreme suffering as we watched my husband at the brink of death after an accident. We couldn’t have survived without our community of prayer warriors. God is faithful!

    1. Hi Thehabibihouse,

      I’m so sorry to read about what you guys went through, but I’m so glad to hear that your husband is okay now! You’re so right — when the unthinkable happens, you really see how important it is to have built a prayer community. That support is essential when it feels like everything is spiraling out of control.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing!

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