Alone in the darkness, with tears blinding her eyes, Jewell made a decision. "I can't pray another prayer for Jenny."
She was sick of the eating disorder that tormented their daughter. She wanted to divorce herself from the ugliness of bulimia and the devastation it had created in their home.
If she stopped hoping for a miracle, she wouldn't be disappointed repeatedly. Maybe if she no longer begged God to heal Jenny, the cloud of depression she lived under would miraculously lift. After that dark night, Jewell prayed for other people, but she never mentioned Jenny's name.
A month later, she made a similar decision. She had watered a geranium with rainwater and fertilized it, yet it refused to flourish.
"You're not going to grow?" she said to the plant that day. "OK, I won't pamper you any more. Out you go!" As she tipped the pot, ready to dump the plant into the garbage can, she heard a voice. "So, you're going to throw it out just like you did Jenny?"
Jenny? she questioned. "What...what do you mean?"
The Voice continued. "You threw Jenny out of your prayers. Don't you know the sickest need more time and patience? The hopeless need more care and prayer."
Though the words weren't audible, the message was clear. She had abandoned her daughter at her lowest point, when she needed her prayers and support the most.
Jewell sank to the garage steps and sobbed, "God, I love her so much. I want her to be a whole person. Why, God, didn't You answer my prayers?"
Wiping her eyes, she carried the plant back into the house. At that moment Jewell determined to pray again for Jenny. How long? She 'd pray for her as long as she had breath.
Jenny's recovery came slowly. She suffered from weakness and hair loss. A dentist told her the enamel on her front teeth had become dangerously thin from years of purging.
"If I lose my teeth, I don't want to live," she declared.
"Mom," she said, "the Bible says God will restore what the locust and cankerworm have devoured. Can I ask God to heal my teeth when I'm the one who ruined them?"
"Healing is a gift," Jewell said. "Yes, you can ask God to heal your teeth." Soon afterwards, the dentist began treatments to preserve the thinned enamel.
Every day was a struggle as Jenny tried to relearn normal eating patterns. Often, she slipped back into the old habit of gorging and purging. Jewell stood by, cheering her better days, and continuing to pray, good days and bad. One day Jenny said, "Things are shaky for me, Mom. But God and I together, we're going to make it. I know it! Just keep praying!"
And what happened to the geranium plant? It stands in their living room, growing, flourishing, and reminding Jewell that there are no hopeless cases with God.
Thank You, God, that there are no limits to what You will do as we keep on praying.
"Be alert and always keep on praying" (Ephesians 6:18).