It has been pretty tough lately for some of our closest friends and for some members of our family. They are all dealing with major concerns of different types. A few are battling life and death issues, and others are fighting things that can seem worse than life and death. I am close enough to many of these folks to see the depth of the darkness they find themselves in, and to feel the anxiety and fear that come with a future that is so uncertain, but looks so potentially unpleasant. It is quite humbling to feel that my immediate family is "safe" and yet to see loved ones in so much pain of various types.
However, in the midst of this, a very interesting thing happened this week. One day I "felt" that one of my friends may be in the middle of a crisis and so I gave him a call. My hunch had been correct, and he shared with me some news that would significantly alter his family's immediate, and possibly, distant future. After listening to him and offering him love, encouragement, and friendship, I encouraged him to call anytime to talk or to share concerns. He seemed very grateful, and we are close enough that I fully expected to hear more from him soon after that.
The next day when I picked up my phone after being away from it for a few hours, I was a little surprised to see that he had tried to reach me. He had left a voicemail. I was even more surprised when I listened to it. He had not called to tell me more about his situation. He had not called to ask for help or to get encouragement. He called because he had run into another one of our friends battling "issues" as mentioned above. Even in the midst of (or, perhaps, precisely from) his trouble he could see the pain and anxiety of someone else and wanted to let me know so that I could reach out to them if possible.
Later, when I was able to return his call and confirm his suspicions that our friends were also in a crisis, he seemed completely focused on them. He and his family were still certainly in the middle of their own storm but he was wiling and able to be consumed with the well being of our mutual friends. I don't know how things like this "work", but it is here that faith happens for me. The fact that people can bear the burdens of others while they are struggling under the weight of their own, engenders a belief in something Bigger and Better, but somehow similar to people, to human beings. It inspires in me, belief in a being whose likeness surrounds me.
Unfortunately, this doesn't solve the problems for any of these folks, at least not in a way I can see. However the response that somehow now seems natural (to use the term loosely) is to invoke the name of this being and expectantly (if only tentatively) wait for the help, assistance and comfort from him. Help, assistance and comfort are offered by the people I encounter everyday, and many times I have been offering as well. So that is what I find myself doing, and I am told it is called intercessory prayer. Tonight that is all I have, while those I have mentioned may be facing another sleepless night, I am wide awake as well, "on my knees" while at my desk. If you are reading this and are facing the darkness I mentioned, this is a prayer for you. If you are not facing the darkness, feel free to offer your own intercession for some of my friends and family who are or for friends of yours in similar spots.
I consider myself a novice at most types of prayer (all except mealtime grace, to be honest) especially intercession. However I remember learning that the book of Psalms was a collection of hymns, or poems to be prayed or sang. I also remember listening to the first compact disc I ever heard. I remember the conversation with my oldest brother, Scott, as we sat upstairs and listened to U2 War. Scott told me that U2 sang "their" song "40" as the last song at every concert for much of their early career. I close with it tonight and have included a snippet of the New Living Translation of the 40th Psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
For those I love who are struggling tonight, I ask of Him,