by Marilynn Chadwick I still marvel when I remember the beautiful young mother I once met in a tiny country in a forgotten corner of the world. She was a survivor of the horrific genocide in Burundi that had exploded alongside Rwanda’s frenzy of killings. I’d been invited to teach on the subject of prayer to a group of church leaders and pastors' wives. All were survivors of the war and no strangers to prayer. So I asked if any had personal stories to tell. One by one, the women stood and shared stirring accounts of God’s miraculous power during times of great danger. Finally, this young mother rose to her feet and began her story. She had eight children, she told us, and lived in the countryside. One day she left her children in the care of a neighbor so she could gather vegetables. Later that day, her neighbor rushed out to tell her that her two-year-old son had suddenly fallen ill and died. She paused—then haltingly resumed her story. “Desperate and afraid, I suddenly remembered how Elijah prayed for the widow’s little boy who died,” she said. “The boy finally came back to life.” So I cried out to God, “You did it for Elijah—do it for me!” She prayed and prayed and prayed. “Finally,” she said quietly, “I could not look at my son any longer, so I went outside.” She faltered for words. By this point, I’m thinking of what to say to her. How do I comfort this woman who had obviously lost her child? And how do we respond when our prayers are not answered the way we want? However, I was not prepared for what happened next. “I went back inside,” she continued slowly. “But this time, when I put my hands on my little boy’s lifeless body and began to pray, he suddenly coughed and sputtered and sat up—he was alive!” A hush fell over the room. I was face-to-face with an ordinary mother who lived oceans away from me. But I knew I was in the presence of a woman of great faith. A true warrior. A hero. Now, you may be thinking, her little boy wasn’t really dead. Or why didn't God heal my sick child? A story like this raises many questions for which I don’t have answers. But I do know this: In a place like Burundi, where they have tasted death up close and where doctors are nearly nonexistent, believers sometimes experience a dimension of God’s grace I seldom see in my safe, suburban world. I’ve heard similar stories firsthand from war refugees in the Middle East and slum dwellers in India. Such women remind me that faith is a fierce fight. I walked away from that encounter in awe, but also challenged. I realize God doesn’t always heal or deliver or raise someone from the dead. But I was inspired by the way this young mother fought for the life of her child. She was courageous. Persistent. And she encouraged me to keep on fighting the fight of faith, even when things may look hopeless—and to never be too quick to give up on God.
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