Many passages confirm that God hears the cries of the afflicted. But some trials can make it seem as though he’s not listening, echoing the haunting experience of Lamentations 3: “Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.”
After finding out we were pregnant our prayers boiled down to one request: “Lord, protect our baby.” But we were granted something more horrific than we could imagine. Our son would not only die – his fatal condition would tear him away from us slowly. Our path forward would be a fight to trust God’s goodness in the midst of our grief, knowing he uses suffering to produce something beautiful in eternity. But there was deep confusion as we entrusted ourselves and our child to the God who was withholding what we desired and allowing what was destroying us.
Even though I felt hurt by the Lord, I somehow gathered fragments of faith to make one more request on behalf of my son: One minute. I just wanted one minute with Eli alive so I could hear the sound of his cry, look into his eyes, hold him and speak to him while he breathed his only breaths.
On the one hand, the request seemed too bold. The statistics were decisively against my son, even for a mere minute of life. On the other hand, the prayer seemed too small. After all, the God who spoke creation into existence and raises the dead to life is the one who tells us, “Ask and you shall receive.”
As labor started early I knew that my prayer might be shut out again. Yet I still held on to hope. In the panic as delivery began, I fumbled for my phone to push record just in case Eli came into this world crying, hoping to capture the beautiful sound forever.
But our son arrived with deafening silence.
The cries I desperately hoped to hear from my boy were substituted with our own uncontrollable weeping. There we huddled, two suffocated parents holding their breathless child.
The traumatic silence from my God and my son has devastated my soul.
Yet my cries of pain are covered by Jesus’ grace, the one who called out from the cross only to be ‘shut out’. Through him we can groan loudly in the days of unanswered prayers.