My husband and I have been going to Argyle Community Church for 38/43 years. I was recently chatting to our Pastor, Jamie, about God’s answer to prayer for my son (after a long period of seemingly unanswered prayer!)
When my son was in his mid-teens, (12 years ago) he became very unsettled. He started missing school on a regular basis and spiralled out of control very quickly. He became very depressed, very anxious, started to self-harm, and attempted to take his own life on three separate occasions. Immediately, our church prayed for him, but things just seemed to get more and more difficult.
Our son was no longer able to attend his school, he was in and out of psychiatric units, and he spent several months in a secure unit in a children’s psychiatric hospital in Kent. Although he received some really good care, he slipped into a severely anxious state; he found it almost impossible to engage with anyone (other than my husband and myself). He lived in his room, rarely left the house, and was unable to mix with others – even close family members.
“There were many times when I didn’t know how I would get through the day, but there was never a time when I doubted God’s existence, or his love for our family.”
Throughout all this, we cried out to God, as did so many others. We asked God to heal our son and to lift him out of the darkness that surrounded him. Yet, for so long it felt as though nothing changed, nothing improved.
On many occasions, I would cry out to God: “How long?” “Where are you?” “Why are you not fulfilling your promises to me?” There were many times when I didn’t know how I would get through the day, but there was never a time when I doubted God’s existence, or his love for our family. I knew, somehow, that God’s hand was on my son and that God had a plan for his life.
Although my son was struggling socially and emotionally, he was (and still is) very intelligent. Even though he was unable to gain any GCSEs because of his disrupted education, he was able to access and complete a Law Degree through The Open University from home. He completed all his assignments and finished with a very respectable 2:1!
We were so pleased that he had been able to achieve this, but we couldn’t see how he could use this qualification if he couldn’t leave the house or engage with others. We hardly dared to believe that he would ever be able to hold down a ‘proper job’ or become an independent adult.
Then the COVID pandemic hit, and he became more isolated than ever. He had the perfect excuse to not even try and mix with other people, and once again my husband and I were left wondering where God was in it all.
“Incredible! We could clearly see God’s hand in it.”
Then, about a year ago, my son started applying for jobs. Being able to work from home gave him the opportunity to earn a living without having to meet people face-to-face. He was successful in getting a few one-off jobs, and then just before Christmas he got a job working for Guide Dogs for the Blind as a tele-fundraiser. Although this was rather tedious, it was regular work from home and it helped him to gain some confidence.
He continued to apply for other work, then was offered an interview to work as an audio-typist in a solicitor’s office in central Reading. We thought an interview would be great experience for him but we were totally amazed when they offered him the job. All of a sudden, he went from rarely speaking to anyone, never going out, never using public transport or being in a public place, to getting a bus to work every day, dressed in his suit, and working closely with criminal lawyers. Incredible! We could clearly see God’s hand in it.
We discovered that one of the areas of expertise at the solicitor’s office was representing people with mental health problems in court. Because they were used to working with people like my son, they saw past the difficulties to his potential and they were willing to give him a chance. They worked with him to give him hours that suited him and that he could cope with. Then we found out that one of the lawyers that he works with is a Christian, and his immediate supervisor used to live in the street where we have lived for years and almost certainly knew our family when our son was growing up.
I believe that none of these little details are coincidental, but they are the answer to many prayers over many years by many people. Our son has just learnt that his initial 3-month trial will almost certainly become a permanent job, with the possibility of further training in more law-related roles. Wow!
“… I couldn’t hear what [God] was saying”
I am reminded of this book that I read some years ago. God On Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer. When I picked this book up again I immediately thought of being in a Zoom Meeting where someone has their video turned off and microphone muted; they’re trying to communicate but you can’t see or hear them.
This goes some way to describing my experience over these difficult years. I always knew God was there, but often I couldn’t see him, I didn’t know what he was doing, I didn’t understand what was happening, and I couldn’t hear what he was saying.
For years, my son has questioned, “If all these people are praying for me, then why does God not do something?” but just recently he wonderfully said to me, “I think it’s amazing that God has given me the opportunity!” For him to acknowledge God’s hand in giving him this job is a miracle in itself.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.” Ephesians 3:20, The Bible