There’s More Than One Way to Answer a Prayer

There’s a joke—or, perhaps, more of a story—that tells of a person who believed with all his heart that a higher being would rescue him from impending disaster.


The man, as the story goes, sat on his front porch as a flood warning was issued. His neighbor, who was evacuating, offered to give him a ride.

"No," the man said. "I have faith. The Being will save me from the flood."

As the waters rose, the man was forced to climb to the second floor of his house. As he was looking out a second-story window, a boat came by.

“Climb in,” the people in the boat yelled. “This flood is going to get worse!”

“No,” the man said. “I have faith. The Being will save me.”

The waters continued to rise and the man was forced to climb to the roof. A rescue helicopter whirled overhead and a voice yelled: “Grab this rope ladder! We’ll save you!”

“I have faith!” the man yelled back. “The Being will save me!”

The man drowned. Finally, he met the Being.

“Why did you let me drown?” he asked. “I had faith in you and you didn’t save me!”

“I tried,” said the Being. “I send you a car, a boat, and a helicopter.”

Why do I bring this up? Because a little girl died about a week ago of untreated Type 1 diabetes. Apparently, her parents had so much faith that the Being would heal a child whose beta cells had stopped producing insulin that they didn’t take her to a doctor.

According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the child’s mother “has said the family does not belong to any organized religion or faith but believes in the Bible and that healing comes from God.”

Know what? I believe that, too. I believe that no matter what name you have for your supreme being, that Being created the plants and the molds, the fungi and other things that give us the substances that heal us and, if not that, to allow us to live longer lives. That Being also gave us the curiosity to seek out the things that work, the stamina to test and retest until we get it right, and the knowledge to put that curiosity to use to benefit mankind.

I have never been in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), but I have friends who have not been so fortunate. Luckily, they lived to try and depict the indescribable feeling of their experiences.

Imagine a child, only 11 years old, getting more and more tired. It became difficult for her to breathe to the point where she was gasping for air. Perhaps she felt as if she had the flu, except that, instead of getting better, it kept on getting worse. Perhaps, as her parents were praying and were asking others to pray with them as they watched their young daughter waste away, the child was praying for relief; relief that could have been had with a simple injection.

An injection of a substance discovered, through the G-d-given curiosity, tenaciousness, and knowledge of Frederick Banting and Charles Best. For they had been the answer to the prayers of parents long ago, whose children did not, until their discovery of insulin, have a prayer of a chance of living.

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  • GrayingChap

    It is the right and the responsibility of parents to raise their children in the manner that seems best to each. Religion, however is not an individualistic endeavor but a community one. Faith and science are not mutually exclusive. When parents make choices to the harm and detriment of their children – parents must be held responsible. The disaster in this story is first and foremost that a child is un-necessarily dead. A secondary disaster is that the bereaved parents of this child claimed a faith without a community…which is as dangerous as a scientific pronouncement without the very proof upon which science depends. Nothing will bring that child back, and that is truly tragic. In their loss and grief, no court can punish these parents any more than does their grief. It is not the courts responsibility to punish but to insure that such careless disregard of the integrity of both faith and science not be duplicated.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Jan. Interesting story let us know if the DA presses charges. Science and religion are in a way mutually exclusive. In religion you have truth that is given by God and some people believe that the bible contains it all. Science does not have truth but theories that are supported by a lot of observations, if an additional observation contradicts a theory it falls. The people unfortunately refused to believe in science and trusted in their faith entirely resulting in the death of their child. But under religious freedom guarantied under your constitution is it not their right?

  • Bahamut

    Our “freedoms” are not absolute. We have freedom of speech but there are laws against yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. You can say what you want in a store but the manager has the right to ask you to leave because it’s private property. We have freedom of religion but there are limits to it. People are convicted of murder even though their narrow view of religion allows them to do illegal things (in their current location).

    The law should trump religion because religion is biased. The law tries not to be. That’s not to say exceptions for the law (ie, there is a law in Europe to allow Muslims to wear an alternative to a helmet which is required when riding a motorcycle) shouldn’t be there. Like how the Amish are excluded from certain laws. Religion should not be able to hide behind the “freedom of religion” clause when it comes to those incapable of choosing with competency their own fate.

  • 75Janice

    I was raised in a cult-like offshoot of Christianity that told its adherents not to have blood transfusions so the story reaches into my very soul. As a lawyer, I monitor these cases carefully. Government must be restricted but parents do not own their children. This tension will always exist. If the government did knew her parents’ decision, I wonder why she was not removed from the home. This is such a preventable tragedy. Where were this girl’s advocates when she was dying? I hope Diabetes Self Management informs us of future developments.

  • sarah77

    Thanks for your reflection – I agree with your thoughts whole-heartedly.

  • Blluebird

    I have had many prayers answered by God. They always came in the form of a person – whether a friend, a doctor or someone I did not even know. And then sometimes there is just an unexplainable miracle.

    Thanks for your articles. It is so nice to listen to someone who has been there.

  • jjackson

    As a type II diabiatic, it was so sad to hear the passing of this young child who did not have a chance to live. As a born again christian and survior of brain surgery. There were those like this child parents very heavenly minded that they were no earthly good.Religious but not a relationship with God all at the cost of losing their child,and the sad thing is, they believe they were right.I know from experience God does work through doctors, I am here today because of prayer for the right doctors and their wisdom.I pray for children’s advocate that this will never happen again. Such a tradgedy.

  • Jj

    They were charged yesterday. Here’s a link from the Milw. Journal Sentinel article: