Prayers for Mom


In 1980—when I was thirty-two and my mother, Rose, was sixty-two—my parentswere living in Michigan. Three years earlier, after much prayer and consideration, Sue and I had moved to the Boston area so I could start a new career. It was a particularly difficult move, as we were leaving both of our parents and taking their two-year-old granddaughter away from them. By 1980, we had two young Korean daughters: Heidi,  age five, and Dena, age two.

It was a cool and otherwise lovely New England autumn morning when I receivedthe call from my father. “Freddy,” he said, in a soft and faltering voice, “I want you to know that Mom was experiencing chest pains and dizziness yesterday so I took her to the hospital and she was admitted for testing. The results showed significant arterial blockages and she has now been slated for surgery as soon as possible.”

Sue and I were hit hard—not only because my mother’s life was at stake but because we lived so far away. Also, we’d never faced the possibility of our parents’ mortality at such a young age, and we’d assumed we had many years left to visit. The hours that followed were tense, to say the least. Suddenly consumed by therealization that I hadn’t told my mother often enough how much I loved her and howmuch she meant to my personal and professional development, I longed to talk to her. I had so much to say—about my faith, about her incredible influence during our numerous kitchen-table talks throughout my youth, adolescence, and early adulthood. Her encouragement and persistent advice to always act with integrity had shaped my life and had tremendous impact. Thank God there was still time.

“Freddy,” said my father over the phone on the day of her surgery. “You need to know the truth. The doctor said there are significant risks for someone with such major blockages. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said, completely rattled. All I could do was hold fast to my faith in God—and a hope that His will would mesh with my own.

“Okay, then,” said Dad. “I’m going to put your mother on.”

I fought back the tears as we spoke. I wanted to demonstrate my faith in God and my courage in the face of this dangerous surgical procedure but I couldn’t shake off the realization that, if it was God’s will, I might never see her again—might never again enjoy the wisdom of her advice during our kitchen-table talks or feel the warmth of her loving hugs. I told her—for what I realized might be the last time—how much I loved her and appreciated her considerable efforts in raising me. “I’ll be praying for you, Mom,” I reminded her. “After all, miracles happen and all things are possible for those who believe and trust in God.”

Then I covered the mouthpiece to muffle my sobs as she told me how proud she was of me, my young family, and my professional accomplishments.

I believe in the power of prayer because I believe in a living God who hears and answers prayers. I also understand that those answers aren’t always on our preferred timetable or what we would desire but rather are on God’s timetable and according to God’s will. Like many Christian families, we did not pray often enough together as a family. But this was clearly one of those moments when we were frightened and in desperate need of divine intervention.

Later that morning—the morning of Mom’s surgery in Michigan—Sue, Heidi, Dena, and I were driving to a local shopping mall in Walpole, Massachusetts. After I parked the car in the mall parking lot, we prayed together not only for successful surgery but also for a complete healing of Mom’s condition. The prayer lasted no longer than a minute or two. Sue and I fought tears as we finished and considered the possibility of a less-than-satisfactory outcome. Nonetheless, we trusted that God’s will would prevail.

Later that day my father called to report the results of the surgery. “You’re not gonna believe this, Freddy,” he said, clearly amazed. “The doctors didn’t even believe it. They performed the exploratory surgery and found clean arteries! As clean and clear as a newborn baby’s!” Dad recounted what the surgeon had told him: that no matter how successful subsequent surgery might have been, the arteries never could have been restored to this condition—yet it had happened before any surgery was performed. “Her surgeon said it had to be the result of divine intervention!”

To say we were grateful is an understatement.

For the rest of her life, Mom required no surgery. Despite having a very poor family health history—her father, mother, and brother all died at very young ages—she lived to the age of eighty-three, when she quietly and peacefully died in her sleep in April 2001.

Following her miraculous healing in 1980, we enjoyed many more years together as well as many more loving hugs and encouraging kitchen-table chats. After what we experienced in 1980, it was natural to share our faith much more often. It was also much easier to frequently express our gratitude to God for giving her more than two additional decades to enjoy her children and grandchildren during her mortal existence.

For Reflection

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything
they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Many times it takes a crisis to bring us to our knees before our God.

Too often we wait and call out to God as a last resort. I plead guilty to that charge. My family had prayed
together far too infrequently—but my mother’s condition and surgery frightened us as we were confronted with the real possibility of losing her so young.

Throughout my life I have heard others tell stories of miraculous healings. I’ve often wondered whether they were real miracles or simply the outcome of advanced medical science. I must admit to earlier episodes of testing God by praying intently for the healing of an obvious physical affliction—such as blindness—in which the healing would be immediately evident. I believed then, as I do now, that all things are possible through a living, loving, omnipotent God, but I should have known better than to test Him in that way.

In my estimation, my mother’s healing is incontrovertible proof of God’s healing power and God’s daily presence in our lives. Her heart was restored to its youthful condition before the surgeons opened her chest cavity.

Can you recall any similar miracles in your life? Have you either long-forgotten those experiences or, worse, have you somehow rationalized them away as luck? Be re-assured and inspired by the significant probability that God had a hand in saving you or a loved one. Honor Him by retelling your story of that miracle in a way that will inspire others. I am constantly mindful of the power of prayer, particularly when we join our hearts and souls with fellow Christians to make our needs known to God in the name of Jesus Christ. Make a habit of speaking to God daily and gather with others to do so as Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20.