Read This If…
- you have ever wondered if God is listening.
- God has answered, “no” to your prayers
- you desire to grow in prayer and faith
Kenneth Ching lived a comfortable life–with a great job, a big house, and an easy faith. He went to church and believed in God’s goodness. But when his son is born with a serious and rare genetic condition, his life is thrown into terrifying chaos.
In this honest and raw memoir, Ching brings to life his experience of letting go while learning to truly trust the Savior he claims to know. Ching doesn’t shy away from asking the hard questions: Why does God answer some prayers but not others? How does prayer work? Is God even listening?
Shattered Prayers is ultimately a story about recognizing God’s presence and faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. And how one man thought God ruined his life by giving his son a terrible disease, but eventually realized God was actually fighting to save his faith and his son’s life.
Review by Linda Valenti
Shattered Prayers: The Testing of a Father’s Faith is a memoir relaying Kenneth Ching’s struggle with faith in God while watching his son battle serious health problems. Ching’s tone throughout the book is reflected here: “I asked for a healthy child, and the answer was ‘no’…..I pray angrily. I pray cursing. But I keep praying. What else can I do?”
He takes the reader to the very vulnerable places in our hearts where we have to be real with God – because our prayers are not always answered the way our hearts wish. We pray for people yet they still die, or get cancer, or struggle with infertility, or are never healed from a myriad of debilitating diseases. Yet we pray.
“I do have faith, but I don’t know whether my faith warrants any optimism. Obviously, faith can’t mean that nothing horrible will happen. I guess what it means to me right now is that God is somehow involved in this crisis.”
When my dad was sick and dying, I remember praying that the Lord would heal him. Yet, I sat with him and he still died. In the midst of his death, the peace of the Lord was with me. When my husband and I faced infertility and did not get the answer of a pregnancy time and time again, I prayed. In that sad and real pain, I did not see that God had a plan far different from mine, yet He was there with me, in that moment, writing a different chapter to my story – a chapter in which I now rejoice.
Ching’s writing is raw, yet refreshing – he puts onto paper words that we barely dare whisper in our hearts sometimes.
“What do you say to an omnipotent deity who could help you instantly but doesn’t? What do you say to someone who hears your cries and responds with silence? …Maybe that’s what God wants – our desperation.”
When God seems silent and distant, and when those we love are suffering – or we are in physical pain, He knows we are angry, bitter, confused and scared. Perhaps we’re not really trusting that He is in control or that He cares. Yet we read of Moses wandering and of Lazarus remaining dead for 4 days. He could have changed it in a second, but He didn’t. Jesus loved Lazarus. He could have healed him. He certainly could have brought him back from the dead without letting his sisters and family mourn in anguish for 4 days. Yet Jesus tarried. Why? His ways are not our ways. His plans and purposes in all things are far more complex than our minds can comprehend. So we pray. Even in the face of seemingly unanswered prayers. Even in our anger. Even in our pain. Especially in our pain.
Ching also addressed the very real battle that Christians have with faith and medicine. Ching recounts the litany of tests he son endured. Some of the tests come back negative, and Ching writes, “How will I know if God healed Joshua or if he just never had it?” When we adopted our daughter she had to undergo several tests for Cystic Fibrosis and for extreme choking episodes where she would go rigid in the night. And we prayed for her. The prayers of so many people went to heaven on her behalf. When we adopted our son, he had many health issues. He had hemorrhaging on both sides of his brain. He saw cranial-facial specialists for concerns and an eye specialist for issues with his eyes. He saw multiple specialists who all were treating him for what was thought to be cerebral palsy. He couldn’t sit up or crawl or hold things. The prayers of many poured to heaven on their behalf. They were both healed of all of these things. So many times people would say to me, “Do you think the doctors were just wrong?” In my heart I know how I prayed. I know that I trusted in a God who was able to do immeasurably more than I could think or imagine. I believe He healed my children. I believe He gave my son the ability to walk and talk and to do more than we ever thought possible. And we rejoice in the many answered prayers. Yet this same God never healed my infertility. This God didn’t answer my prayer to save my dad at 57 years old. Yet I trust Him.
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.”
Ching explains the pain of helplessly walking though his son’s difficult needs. He details those around him and how they tried to speak words into his life with little understanding of his heart – of his anguish – of his fear. This book gives great insight into how we might come alongside those going through difficult days and tragedies. He writes about needless words that are spoken and how people feel the need to speak even when some tragedies, some heartaches, need silence…..prayer. Words to God and only God.
He also challenges the reader in the area of faith. He says, “…if we knew what He was doing, we wouldn’t need faith. The question then, isn’t whether I understand God, but whether I trust him,….especially if trusting him doesn’t mean that your children won’t be born with rare diseases, what does it mean?” He continues, “if I’m going to start using words like luck and coincidence to describe major life events, then I should quit being a Christian. If I’m going to blame God for the bad stuff, I have to credit him with the good….when you lose on one front it’s okay to mourn, but when you win on another, you should rejoice.”
Ching’s struggles with his trust in God spoke directly to my heart. His honesty was refreshing and liberating. I could relate to so many of his stories, his heartaches, and his fears. His faith was never more real to him then when he faced the needs of his son. Ching writes about this love for his son, and how he questioned a God who could let a baby suffer. Could this God care?
I hope that you read this book. It was such a powerful piece of writing that spoke deeply to my heart. The story does not end and the reader is not left with a neatly wrapped package. But my heart was made richer by the words in this book and by the reminder that while we may not yet know the answers to our prayers or the ending to our stories, He continues to walk with us daily holding us in the palm of His hand. His heart breaks with our hearts. And He truly loves our precious children even more than we can think or imagine….even more than we love them.