Though he and his family no longer attend the church that I work at, he is very much a part of the extended community. He is no stranger to most of our youth group, and those who have attended the church for more than a few years. On Wednesday, our youth group was updated on his condition. He had been in and out of consciousness, but had started recognizing people. Though his heart wasn't working by itself he was able to be taken off of intubation and say a few words - enough to show hope that his brain may not have severe damage from lack of oxygen.
As we were discussing his condition one of the 9th grade boys asked "But, his going to be ok, Right? I mean, he'll recover?" The honest, and only response we, as adults, could provide was, "We don't know."
That moment was heavy, it forced everyone in the room to grapple with mortality, the character of God, and a sense of helplessness. It led us to do the only thing we could... pray. For the first time that I can remember the same 9th grader, who asked if Ben, the boy he may have met just a handful of times was going to be ok, offered to pray. It was a short but honest prayer, one that communicated his concern, faith, hope, and fear.
Something else struck me about his prayer - he wasn't just going through the motions, praying because it was expected of him - he seemed to be praying not from an emotional place but a deeper place of the soul. I step carefully into what I'm about to say, because it's topic that can feel over spiritual or emotionally manipulative in some circles. So I speak cautiously, but honestly. As he prayed for Ben, I could physically feel the presence of God working out fears, doubts, and the implications of Ben's condition in the youths' lives. Though God may not have instantly healed Ben in the moment that we prayed, there was a true sense of God in all of this, as scary, and painful as it has been for everyone who knows Ben personally. I can't say that there is much peace in what is happening for Ben and his family right now, but I do believe that God is present.
We continue to receive updates on Ben's condition. He is still in the ICU as tests are being run. His heart stopped twice two nights ago, and we still don't know what will happen. Family, friends, and communities are still praying, and doctors are still working hard. If you have a moment please pray for Ben and his family, as well as the doctors who are committed to his care.