Prayer, paper cuts and pain 

February 1, 2017

This morning I read today’s Gospel reading. 

This morning someone I know complained about acute pain. Then just as I was formulating the desire to pray for her, the person next to her happened to give herself a paper cut and there was blood on her finger. Now we were in the presence of blood, and this struck me for I knew it was a sign from Jesus that I should pray for her. His precious blood heals. But first I needed to get over my pride, which threatened to scare me from asking her to say a prayer for her out loud. I offered to pray for the person with the acute pain for her terrible pain to go away, but she was mildly indifferent. I offered again and she said OK, so I prayed out loud that the Lord take away her pain in the name of Jesus. But then she said she really just needed medical attention. There was no improvement. My heart was broken, because I know how dearly He would like to help her, and how fast He would rush in and do it. And I know how possible this is. Of course, medical attention is good, but prayer brings us higher.

All morning I felt heartbroken for her, because she did not believe, and this stands in the way of so many things for her, as unbelief does for all of us. All of eternity comes flooding in like a great beneficent ocean wave to raise us towards the heavens when we open ourselves up to God’s creative, life-affirming work. But all of this is closed off to us when we throw up the strong levees of human doubt. We take on so much weight of stress ourselves, pretending that we can control our destiny, but we cannot and we suffer terribly because of this in all sorts of ways. The result is chronic stress and its corrosive effects on the body and the spirit. 

My heart was broken for her because I wanted her to be healed of all that ails her, and not just her tooth ache. But she did not believe, and God in his boundless respect for us does not interfere without our consent. He wants us to turn to Him of our own free will, for what value is there in a relationship that is not willed on both sides? Our loss is so terribly great because of our unbelief. Lord, help our unbelief! 

All morning I was glum because of this. Then I understood in my heart what Jesus meant when he said “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). I wanted it so badly for her to receive His healing grace, but I was helpless.

Then I remembered this morning’s Gospel reading, and I was consoled. I continue to pray for her in the privacy of my own heart that she will come to know God personally, in the loving and living Jesus who heals all who open themselves up to Him.

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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