Evening came in as it always did. The verse ‘Though my sorrows may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5. Aileen knew that in the morning she would see things in a different light. Right now all she saw was heart break.
The morning came with its sunshine and the smell of coffee in the kitchen. Aileen made Tom’s breakfast of home fries and scrambled eggs. As she sat with him sipping her coffee, she knew that the Lord had a plan.
She didn’t think of her new granddaughter as she went down the halls of the nursing home. She gave out meds and talked to the patients. She smiled as one of her patients found out she was going home. Another patient learned that family would be visiting. These folks had lived a long life and seen many heart aches. Some had lost family in the war. Others had seen starvation during the great depression. Here they were, happy to gather in the cafeteria to chit chat with other people their own age. Aileen’s job was to make sure they had their meds given at the proper time. She made sure they had their personal needs met as well.
The Lord opened Aileen’s eyes that morning as she worked. Despite whatever she is going through, it is ok to be happy and joyful through it all. She refused to wear the cape of misery. In her heart she threw off the oppressive cape and latched on to joy as she stumbled upon it. She looked for things that were good, joyful, hopeful and true. She came home with a new outlook. The heartbreak was still there, but God was creating a new person in Aileen.
That evening as she sat in her glider rocker praying, she realized that she wasn’t the only person in her family that had undergone heartache. She remembered those who had gone through several marriages, addiction, and worse.
One thing stuck out as she sat listening to what the Lord was showing her. Her response to the difficulties in life were the key to joy. She remembered the bickering and words of hate that were flung around her childhood home.
‘I can’t change what has gone before me, but I can respond in a way that magnifys God. I can pray for my granddaughter and for those raising her. I can ask for reconciliation and vivid reasoning through the Lord’s eyes. I can learn to respond in love.’
Aileen prayed each night for the grandchild she was never to see. She prayed for family that had weaknesses that were contrary to God’s word. It was up to God to judge whether a person goes to heaven or hell. She put herself in alignment with God’s heart. It was not his heart to see her family suffer and lose the promises of God. She prayed for healing and open hearts for her family. She was honest with the Lord and told of her pain. Aileen spent her evenings in the presence of the Lord. She went to bed and slept well.
Often, she thought of Abraham the person and not Abraham the character in the bible. Unlike her, Abraham had a few years with his son Ishmael. She was not sure that made much difference when he had to send him away. It probably made it worse. Yet, God promised Abraham a special son. Aileen sat and looked at the ceiling.
‘No child can replace another. However, I imagine it did help heal the hurt.’ She then remembered ‘Isaac, the child of laughter.’ ‘That would be nice Lord, but I do doubt my son has any thought of fathering another child right away.’ Then she remembered how old Sarah was when she gave birth. She shuddered. ‘I truly don’t think my son will father a son in his old age either.’ She laughed. ‘Oh wait, Sarah laughed too didn’t she?’ She continued to laugh.
Michael and Cindy no longer dated. Her son gave up all parental rights in return for not having to pay child support. He began to date several girls and never went to visit his parents. Tom and Aileen prayed each day and praised the Lord for small things. They knew their son was alive somewhere though they did not have any communication after two years. The Lord put a joy unspeakable into their home. Many of their friends could not understand the peace they felt when they entered their home.
When the different holidays approached though, it was difficult. On Mother’s day or Father’s day especially. They watched others receive cards or phone calls, or gifts. Some had their children come from long distances to see them. Grandchildren bounced around the sanctuary. Christmas and Thanksgiving were no different.
During these times the Lord sent friends to them. They were asked out for dinner by those who had suffered before. These friends came from the church. Their time wasn’t spent lamenting over what they did not have. Rather, they laughed of many things. They held each other up. So often, Aileen realized that the church is not just a building or memorizing chants or scripture. The church was the people. When the people got together, they became family.
One day, the preacher spoke of prayer. ‘So often people say ‘All I can do is pray’ yet that is so wrong. The BEST thing you can do is pray. You cannot fix anything. You do not know the end. Life is like a puzzle and you only hold one piece.’
This encouraged Aileen as she continued to pray for her entire family each day. Sometimes, she only prayed half of the list and listened to see if the Lord spoke to her. She explained listening to God like this…’God speaks in many ways. Through nature, through dreams, through other Christians, through the word of God and also in a small voice that you just know is him. He said ‘my sheep can hear my voice’ To hear that voice we have to listen, quietly. I personally make it a habit to put aside my own thoughts. I have a piece of paper nearby when other thoughts come in, I just jot them down and go back to listening. The devil loves to interrupt with important business or things that need to be done. Nothing is as important as listening to God.’
The habit of praying began when Aileen was very young. She learned more about the word of God as she poured through it each day. As she kept up praying, things began to happen.
One of her cousin’s children quit smoking, her uncle stopped drinking, her mother started to read her own bible more. Each time something like that happened Aileen thanked the Lord. Her own husband was healed from a disease to where he no longer needed to take medicine for it.
The one thing that Aileen kept quiet about was her praying. She went to pray in a quiet time rather than draw attention to herself. She went to prayer meetings at church but her quiet time at home was just for her and the Lord.
Aileen may never see answers to her prayers. Yet she is joyful and hopeful each day. When sorrow comes in as it sometimes does, she remembers that her response to it is very important. The weaknesses of those in her bloodline that went before cannot be changed by her. Yet, her prayers are for those who go on after her.
If her prayers aren’t answered before her eyes, that is fine. Prayers do not die.