The day Robin Williams died I found myself out of sorts. I went for a drive. I sat in my truck by the lake and watched a kingfisher in the rain. I cried. I felt the heaviness of defeat hovering over me like the gray sky above. Not for myself, but a painful sadness for the desperate cries of those who end up taking their lives. The Catholics say that to despair is to sin. It is the ultimate in unbelief. I was suffering the pains of life in this world, with its failures and cynicism. I kept crying, and crying. At one point I was on my stairs, back in my home, when I finally surrendered to deep sobs and crying out to my Lord, “It hurts. Oh Lord it just hurts here so bad. So much suffering!” And then he was next to me; sitting bloody and torn with wounds all over and nodding in understanding. “Yes. Yes it does.” He was smiling, His tone lighthearted. He knew all my pain. And more. So much more. I felt a certain affinity toward Him; a connection.
As I write this I remember encouraging a pregnant woman who was only a few minutes from pushing. Her labor was at its most intense, and almost over at the same time. And she was looking at me with fear and in pain. She was so desperate. And I was smiling at her. Not because I had no compassion. On the contrary, I knew all about giving birth without the help of drugs or epidurals. And I knew it was well worth the effort. And so, she could look at me, and see my faith in her. My demeanor said this was a wonderful thing, not a bad thing. And she composed herself, got down to the business of pushing, and delivered her little girl.
“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” John 16:21-22
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I’ve been praying fervently for a friend. Health issues can be the best and the worst kinds of prayers. On the one hand, if a mate gets better, you can thank God, and go on your merry way. If they get worse, or die however, it makes you wonder about praying for the sick at all!
I have a vision in my mind of a praying tyrant who comes to the home of the sickly one and paces the floors. He wears a dark hat and long coat and maybe even steps out for a cigarette every now and then. He sits quietly in the corner and reads, he paces some more, and prays like a pit bull. He has no intention of leaving until that bloody evil thing gets off the person and runs for cover, leaving the victim sitting upright and smiling and asking for something to eat. Yes, this is the manner of person I want at my bedside if I am prematurely stricken. But this is a rare one indeed. Most who are evoked to pray simply are agreeing to worry, and look very sincerely upward, perhaps even with tear filled eyes, saying, “Do you hear me, God?”
Most simply don’t believe God operates that way. But Jesus said all you need is a mustard seed of faith. I’ve been giving some thought to this little seed, and doing a bit of research.
From Wikipedia regarding the parable of the mustard seed: There is a “subversive and scandalous” element to this parable, in that the fast-growing nature of the mustard plant makes it a “malignant weed” with “dangerous takeover properties”. Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (published around AD 78) writes, “Mustard… is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.”
So it is with faith! Once it has been sown, it can take over like a weed! And grow so fast it kills the plants around it! Well, stay tuned to see how it all plays out.
I have been inspired to add to this these thoughts. Ask and it shall be given to you, Seek and you shall find, Knock and it shall be opened unto you. These scriptures in the Greek mean KEEP ON ASKING, and KEEP ON SEEKING, and KEEP ON KNOCKING. With persistence, and with expectation. Have you ever been searching for a kitchen utensil that is missing? You frantically dig through drawers, and look through cabinets, and every place it could be. You search with a determination because you just KNOW it’s GOT to be there! You aren’t thinking you will never find it, you are SURE you WILL find it, and you are sure it IS there! So it is with faith. We KNOW God is merciful, we KNOW HE is good, we KNOW he is full of compassion. And so when we pray and look for healing, it is with a certainty that it exists, that it is there, and is right. Love hopes all things, BELIEVES all things. Love NEVER fails.