When I read the book of Job, I am astonished to know that at one time I thought just as his friends did, meaning that when bad things happen, it must mean someone has sinned. It did not help that I was ashamed of how I was living. So, when my 10-month-old son was diagnosed with meningitis, I automatically thought God was punishing me for my lifestyle. Therefore, I became so angry, and, admittedly, ashamed, that I could not bring myself to pray to God for help. Malcolm kept a fever for 18 days, and the doctors told me that if the fever did not break soon, he would be physically and mentally challenged. I knew that I needed to pray, but my shame and guilt and anger just would not let me.
Then, about two days after the bad prognosis, I was walking in downtown Atlanta, going back to work from having went to pay a bill at the local department store. As I passed the Woolworth’s store, there was a van parked there, and the guy inside asked me why I was looking so sad. Not knowing him, I kept walking. He hollered at me, “Sometimes you have to trust someone.” I stopped, and as I walked back to the van, he asked me again why I looked so sad and told me that I needed to trust somebody. I told him about Malcolm, and he asked me if he could pray for me.
I was not about to get in the van, but he was so persistent, even suggesting that I leave the door open, if that made me feel safer. So, I got in the van, leaving the door open, and one eye open, and he started praying for Malcolm. I had never heard such a powerful prayer. I eventually closed my eyes and let the prayer wash over me, cleansing my mind, heart, and soul. When the prayer ended, I said thank you to the man, and he said, ” When you get to the hospital tonight, your child will be well.” I just looked at him skeptically and walked away. It was such a strange thing to say!
But, sure enough, when I arrived at the hospital that night, Malcolm was sitting up in bed, smiling for all he was worth, and the nurse told me that the fever broke around 6:00 in the evening, the exact time the man was praying! The next day, tests showed no evidence of the meningitis and the doctor told me to take him home. He said there was no way to know what happened, for there was no medical explanation. But I knew!
Three weeks later, I see the man on a bus, and I walked back to thank him. I knew it was the same man, with the same uniform on, with the same name on the uniform pocket. How can you forget someone who prays for your sick child?! But when I thanked him, he looked at me and said, “I’ve never seen you before in my life.” I did not argue with him. As I walked away, I said a prayer, “Thank you, Lord, for the angels that encamp around those who love and fear you and deliver them” (Psalm 34:7).
So, yes, I believe in angels, and I believe the stories of other people’s encounters with angels. But more importantly, I learned that Malcolm’s illness was not due to anyone’s sin. Unlike Job’s friends, I understand that sometimes things just happen. It’s called life. What is important is that when I needed someone to pray, and could not pray for myself, my heavenly Father sent someone to help us: an angel who could really pray!