My mom’s prayers amid adversity shaped me

Written by Joanna Seow

My mom called us all into the living room.
“We need to fight,” she said. “For your dad.”
My dad looked defeated. He was worn out and discouraged—he looked so close to being gone. He was lost, frightened, no longer sure of who he was.

I had only recently gotten back from a long trip to Asia. I was still adjusting to being back home and had not fully caught up on how his anxiety was eating away at his sanity.

When it all began to sink in, there were days where I woke up repeatedly, terrified that today would be the day that he would do something dangerous and we would lose him.

Helpless. I felt so helpless around my dad. Shame and guilt ate away at me. The voices in my head told me there was no way out. One voice screamed that his anxiety was my responsibility. Another told me that our family was going to be ripped to shreds through this.
“Just leave him be,” the voices said. “He can’t be helped anyway.”

Yet there was my mom, the one who suffered the most deeply, watching as the man she loved with her whole heart gave up. Still, she refused to give up hope. She wouldn’t let the evil one take away her husband, her marriage, or her family.

She gathered us in the living room, right by her late mother’s coffee table—beautifully and intricately carved with stories, and she prayed fearlessly.

And as she prayed, my sister and I prayed too. As a family, we put our hands on our father and fought against the suicidal thoughts and the lies the evil one had planted in his mind telling him he was less than who Christ said he was—that somehow the gift of life was no longer worth having.

We prayed in a way we hadn’t in a long time. We prayed as the unit God made us to be.

And, we did so again and again. We still do, some days. My dad’s condition has improved significantly, and he’s been using his experience to come alongside friends and family walking through similar struggles. It can still be hard some days, but it’s been encouraging to see him turn first to prayer in those moments. 

As we’ve moved forward since that day in the living room, our family has encountered a whole lot more change—graduations, broken relationships, weddings, new careers, and most recently, my mom’s cancer.

In the tension of joy and pain, this picture of prayer remains.

I encounter days of hope and love, followed by days of fear, especially during this pandemic. Fear that one of us might become a carrier of the virus and infect my mom, fear each time she has to head to the hospital for another appointment, and the list goes on.

But, I look at her each morning: Bible by her side, taking her day in stride, telling anyone and everyone she can about the goodness of God. Fasting from morning to evening on Fridays as she fights yet another battle on our behalf, and gathering us weekly to pray.

I’m reminded yet again to turn to Him and pray.
For healing, even when the doctors say it’ll never quite go away.
For peace, in the midst of what feels like never-ending chaos some days.
For joy, that hers may be here to stay.
For faith, that mine will grow into even half of what He has made hers someday.
For love, to fill our hearts, our home, our space.

In tears and boldness, on my knees as I once saw her do, I pray. And now, as my new husband stands alongside me, we pray.