The handsome young man holding Matthew in this picture is Benedict, a pretty incredible 13-year-old. From the day Benedict heard about Matthew, (over a year ago), he has been his prayer warrior. When the doctors told us there was no chance Matthew would survive, Benedict prayed 3x/day that Matthew would live “so that others would be brought to Christ.” And Benedict has continued to pray for Matthew 3 times per day – morning, noon, and night – ever since.
Benedict and his family were praying for Matthew when I, his own mother, could not. There was a time when it was just too painful to pray. I would cry uncontrollably every time I would try, and I got to where I was just tired of crying. (However, I did pray at one time that Benedict’s faith would not be too shattered when his prayers were not answered the way he expected them to be. God has sure taught me a lesson about having “faith like a child!”)
Meanwhile, Benedict and countless others were praying on our behalf . . . and that was so comforting, and more powerful than I ever could have imagined.
Benedict’s prayer was so hopeful. All I could do was pray for “help,” and that Matthew’s short life would not be too painful. I never dreamed to hope he would live, because the medical science said that was impossible.
During my pregnancy, talk of miracles and “not putting limits on God” could make me roll my eyes or get angry with those who didn’t realize how serious Matthew’s health problems were, or how painful “false hope” can be. For the majority of my pregnancy with Matthew, Aaron and I truly did not think a “good outcome” was possible. Our child was either going to die, or live with severe disabilities – in and out of hospitals for the duration of his life, enduring one painful procedure or surgery after another
However, Benedict’s prayers were different. His prayers were quiet. He didn’t flaunt his hopeful attitude in any way, or insist that we be hopeful as well. Instead, he didn’t even tell us he was praying – rather, his mother whispered it to me one day. And, he prayed that Matthew would live to bring others to God – for the Glory of God. Not so that we would be spared the pain of losing a child, or so that we wouldn’t have to suffer – but so that Matthew could glorify God with his life.
Thank you, Ben! You are quite a powerful prayer warrior, and it means more to us than you’ll ever know. God has given us a miracle in our child, and we have no doubt that all the prayers he received have a lot to do with that. It is wonderful to know that Matthew will have a friend and a roll-model in you for years to come.
Aaron and I often receive compliments regarding Matthew, and our response is usually “Thank you, but we really haven’t done much!” The Glory here really belongs to God. Matthew himself has been incredibly tough and strong, but we just made the best decisions we knew how at each step along the way. We did choose life in a situation where other may have not, but that was the easiest of the decisions we had to make. I ran across this quote the other day which reminded me of that. Here is a quote from another Benedict:
“The cult of material possessions, the cult of possessive love and the cult of power often lead people to attempt to ‘play God’: to try to seize total control, with no regard for the wisdom or the commandments that God has made known to us. This is the path that leads towards death. By contrast, worship of the one true God means recognizing in Him the source of all goodness, . . . that is the way to choose life.”
Pope Benedict XVI World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia 7/18/2008