I’ve heard it said that faith is a ‘crutch’ for the weak-minded. Something that people use in order to prop themselves up against the realities of life that are too difficult to fathom and understand on their own. Even though i disagree wholeheartedly with the inference behind this sentiment, I have to confess, last night I hobbled into a church prayer meeting and the only thing that was keeping me vertical was my “crutch”. Simply put, what held me up is my belief that God is real, with us(Immanuel) and that Jesus weeps over suffering and death (john 11:35).
A group of us from church gathered together in order to pray for our community. Two weeks ago, in a span of 7 days we learned of several forms of cancer in our ‘body’ or directly related to it. We are a very young congregation and in it, there is a mother of a member of our church who is fighting a rare form of leukemia most commonly seen in children. Her treatment puts her in long periods of isolation because it destroys her immune system.
There is the mother and sister of a dear friend, one who learned of a possible end of the road in her treatment the same week that the other learned her cancer had returned to her bones. There were the requests shared from my sweet friend with an inoperable but stable brain tumor who deeply trusts God with her life but also longs to see her small children grow up and get married. She is so brave. We prayed for a single mom in our midst who is awaiting the results of a scan to see if her cervical cancer has returned. And we all gathered to pray for a young mom and her husband who just learned that she has stage 3 breast cancer.
I hate cancer. It is such a callous interrupter of life and dreams. It makes me afraid and terrfied of what i eat and breathe, and is so ‘in your face’ about the realities of death for us all. and i really despise that the treatments can be almost as devastating as the disease itself. Sometimes, it all just renders me speechless. Which is what happened to me last night. So, for me it had to be enough to sit with a full heart of sadness for these people who are living a more honest daily reality of the ‘letting go’ of possible dreams and are walking in sheer chaos of the unknown.
As i was leaving, three different people told me that they were sad that i didn’t pray aloud. I was touched by their words and told them that i was praying but just too full and overwhelmed to articulate it. I was particularly heavy for the young mom and her husband who have so many difficult decisions this week to make about treatment which will consist of heavy forms of chemo and radiation. I have been marveling at her from a far ever since the birth of their daughter about 8 months ago. For one thing, she is one of the funniest people i know. But another, because she kind of mirrors my transition into motherhood 12 years ago. Meaning, she also seems to have come ‘home’ to herself when her daughter was born.
So, here you go ladies:) this was/is my quiet unheard prayer for us all. For the members of Hope Community and the people we love who are suffering.
Isaiah 40 NLT
“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up to the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
41. But as for you, Israel my servant. Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying ‘you are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not let you go. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for i am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
psalm 56. You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. you have recorded each one in your book.
psalm 94. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope.
and thank you jesus for being something that i can lean on to carry me along when life feels difficult though i know i must move forward. Forward to love, to comfort, to be present, to believe, to be quiet, and to help prop up others as we all stumble along together on this journey of faith.