Today the journeys others are taking dwarf any difficulties in mine. In the past two weeks I’ve added heart-wrenching requests to my prayer list.
• A daughter has gone missing.
• A son has died in Afghanistan.
• A family is split by alcohol and selfishness.
• A mother of a one-month-old learns she has thyroid cancer.
• A young boy is badly injured by his father’s tractor.
• Three friends have fathers in the hospital with serious illnesses.
• Most of the kidnapped girls in Nairobi are still in the hands of their captors, or worse, have already been sold into slavery, or sex-trafficked.
• Another shooting on a college campus robs a life of future and promise.
• A young husband and father of three postpones the family’s annual summer mission work in Haiti to await his treatment for melanoma in lymph nodes. . . .
When I begin to pray, I feel like ranting at God. Asking, “Why?”
It isn’t fair. It’s a sloppy, ugly world we live in.
For a moment, I sigh words from a poem I was enamored with in the ninth grade, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám LXXII
And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help–for It
As impotently moves as you or I.
But I don’t stay there.
When the emotion is spent, I hear the echoes of the words of the psalmist centuries ago.
The enemy hunted me down;
he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.
He put me in a black hole,
buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.
I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain. Psalm 143:3,4,6 The Message
We have an enemy that seeks to discourage us, beat us down, even kill us if possible. But Jesus came to destroy his power over us.
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. I Peter 5:8-11 The Message
I know it’s true.
Because I know the eyes that penetrated me with love when I couldn’t go on.
I know his words of reassurance when I wanted life to end, telling me there isn’t anything he can’t work in, as long as I am alive.
I know how it felt to have Him reach his hands out to me, pull me into a meet-the-needs-of-everything-in-me hug.
And I remind myself that this world, this life, is only a glimpse of the real thing, a tiny moment in all of eternity.
And that sometimes pain is our door.
But we are never alone in our pain.
We are held.