I trusted You. I believed in Your power. When we prayed for a hedge of protection to surround him, I believed You would take care of him. I believed You would bring him home. I believed until August 6, 2011. On that day, my nephew died in Afghanistan on a Chinook helicopter along with thirty other American soldiers and Navy seals.
I didn’t lose my faith. I didn’t renounce You and say You must not truly exist, but the core of what I thought to be true fractured. Prayers for safety, for healing, for guidance lost their comfort factor. You didn’t protect Spencer so why should I believe that You would now take care of the others that I love. I’m not sure what I really thought before. I guess I was just naïve. Others have died, others with praying parents, spouses, siblings, and even aunts. Somehow I thought my prayers would provide a magical force field that kept anything bad from happening. Not anymore.
But I prayed the prayers anyway. I asked You to protect my daughter away at college. I asked You to keep safe my high school son. I asked for You to guard their bodies, their hearts, their minds, and their souls. I wasn’t sure anymore that You would do it, but I knew that asking You to was the right thing to do.
I watched my brother and sister-in-law deal with their grief—an unimaginable, seemingly hopeless task. They kept praying. They kept believing. They kept pouring their grief into a foundation they started to honor their son. “Make it count today,” my brother used to say to his boys every day before they left for school. The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation began to make it count in the lives of veterans. I joined in, and I saw new hope.
I kept praying. I kept asking You to watch over my loved ones. Slowly, the prayers began to again bring comfort. My conversations with You started to again feel meaningful and real. Not immediately, not miraculously, but by tiny increments of hope. Hope that Your words were meant for me. Words like…
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.
I’ve learned that You never promised me a pain free life, but You did promise that You will never leave me and You will bring peace. I trust You in that, and I believe in Your power to fulfill that promise.
My nest is empty now. My daughter lives on her own and works the late shift at her job. My son is in the army and currently deployed in Afghanistan. I will forever be their mother, and I have much to pray for. So I continue to pray and ask You to wrap your arms around them and guard their bodies, their hearts, their minds, and their souls. When I pray, my brain constantly reminds me that my prayers don’t guarantee that everything will be OK, but my heart quietly whispers back that it is still the right thing to do.
SUSAN NIGHTINGALE | COMMUNICATIONS & VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR