Lord, you have been our help,
generation after generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—
from forever in the past
to forever in the future, you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 (CEB)
We’ve been in a bit of a rough patch lately. Actually, it’s been more of a roller coaster that culminated in neurosurgery for my father-in-law last week. He’s home and healing well, but it was definitely a process. There were times when I think everyone in our family wanted to shout at the universe, “Anything else you want to throw at us today?” But we made it through. God granted us peace and extended us his grace.
I have to be honest, though, there were times when the praying was hard. When I bowed my head to pray for my family, I thought about all of those other families in the world suffering from tragedy. I thought about people mourning the unthinkable loss of loved ones in Las Vegas. I thought about the loved ones still missing in California, Mexico, the Caribbean and Texas. I thought about battles raging across the ocean, and people who live in constant fear and terror. Is God fighting for them? Is God acting on their behalf?
Although I continued to offer my prayers, I was pretty numb. The prayers came out of a hollow place in my heart. There was little expectation. It seemed that God already had his hands full enough, and my little prayers would most likely fall through the cracks of the cupped hands in which he holds the world.
It’s not pretty to say such things. It’s not what Christian leaders are supposed to do. But I’m guessing I’m not the first or last person to ever have such thoughts. It’s not a lack of faith, regardless of what some well-intended church folk might say. It comes from the knowledge that the world is a mess, and life doesn’t always go the way you want it to, despite your best prayers.
But here’s the thing–it is precisely because the world is and always was a mess that we need to continue to bring all of our petitions, hurts, hopes, and concerns before God. Going to God in prayer allows us to let go, to look forward, to place one foot in front of the other when our feet don’t want to move any farther down the road we find ourselves on. Prayer is a safe place for us to release all of our fears, our anxieties, and our doubts because God, unlike us, is able to carry them.
God wants to hear from his children. God wants us to come to him in prayer: when we’re numb, when we’re doubtful, when we’re confused, when we’re angry, when we’re thankful, and when our lives are perfectly and blissfully uneventful.
It is through prayer that we are able to see God’s goodness in the midst of uncertainty, tragedy, and grief. Prayer allows us to remember, as the psalmist writes, that God is God from forever in the past to forever in the future. No matter what life throws our way…
God will be.
Our family witnessed a small miracle last week, in the midst of the crazy roller coaster we were on. After the surgeon shared the good news, the pastor sitting with us stood up and said, “Well, I think that calls for a prayer!” And so, we joined hands once again. We bowed in the surgery waiting area and gave God thanks for this miracle. The ride isn’t over yet. There’s still more to come. That’s part of living in this world. However, in that small moment of thanksgiving, I saw again how much God loves each of his children. I saw again that, despite the messed up nature of the world, God is there, forever and forever, working for and with his children.
Blessings and Peace,