Faith Matters

When hope gives up on magical results

Since my son’s accident, everything I understand about hope has changed.

Two years ago, my now 17-year-old son had a biking accident on his way home from school. He remembers an overcrowded bike lane. He remembers plowing into a boy in front of him who stopped suddenly. And he remembers waking up on the ground—he doesn’t know how much later—with a cracked helmet, a few scrapes, and a vicious headache.

That headache hasn’t gone away since. For two years my son has been out of school, unable to participate in the extracurricular activities he loves, and unable to remain upright and out of bed for longer than four or five hours at a stretch. He spends most of his time in his darkened bedroom with ice packs on his forehead. He faints and feels nauseous a lot, and at this point, it’s not clear when or how he’ll complete his education. We’ve seen several physicians and tried many medications and alternative therapies. But the headaches persist.

In the first days, weeks, and months after the accident, I prayed with a kind of desperate hope for immediate and complete healing. I prayed for wisdom for my son’s pediatrician and neurologist. I prayed for the acupuncturist’s hands as that healer administered the needles. I prayed for every MRI, CT scan, and physical exam my son received. I prayed over every dose of every medicine he swallowed. The hope fueling these prayers was focused, frantic, and frenzied. It was a hope based entirely on results, on causes and effects, on miracles and magic.