A few weeks ago I read Mark 9 in which a father brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing. The disciples try healing him first. No luck. "This kind needs prayer," Jesus admonishes them. I'd always thought Jesus was classifying demons in this story, as if some exorcisms need prayer while others don't. But one of my pastors said Jesus was making a point about all exorcisms: they all require the power God; without his involvement, the demons ain't going nowhere.
The disciples were relying on their own power to heal the sick boy; that's why Jesus admonished them: "How long will I put up with you, you faithless generation?" The boy's father isn't exactly demonstrating hall-of-fame faith, either. "If you can help me, please do," he says to Jesus. "If?" Jesus asks. "All things are possible for one who believes!"
"I believe," the boys father cries. "Help my unbelief!"
I've prayed this prayer a number of times over the years. When I do, I typically expect Jesus will answer by pulling out his scalpel and cutting the unbelief out of my heart in an act of merciful yet painful surgery. But there are no scalpels in this story. Instead, Jesus turns and heals the boy. A gracious act to buoy the man's faith.
I like Jesus's answer to this man's prayer, so a few weeks ago, I started echoing the prayer more persistently: "Lord, help my unbelief on this long journey of sickness." I wait expectantly, hoping for a miracle. And then, days after I start asking God to help my unbelief, the doctor I've been waiting months to see cancels my appointment. I spend hours researching and calling other doctors but can't find a reputed doctor who will see me before the end of July, just weeks before summer's end.
So much for an imminent miracle.
Last night I knelt at my bed before going to sleep. "God," I prayed, "I really need you to help me trust you. I’m having trouble believing you’re attentive to, involved in, and care about this journey of sickness. Please help my unbelief by teaching me your tender care for me."
This morning I woke up to a text from a good friend. She'd sent it last night, 45 minutes after I prayed and climbed in bed:
Thinking of you so much tonight. My bible study of young adults are all praying for you. Jeff, our bible study leader, prayed for you powerfully this evening. He's so kind. About 6'4", deep voice, gray haired man. About 65. Thought you might appreciate the visual :) Powerful prayer :)
The text was from my friend, but it felt like it was from God, as if he was saying, "See, I care. While you were on your knees praying last night, I was moving in my people to come before God's throne on your behalf. You'll know my tender care through my people."
Seconds after reading the text, the doorbell rang. I walked upstairs and found a large vase of summer flowers on the step, waiting just for me.
Later, I discovered my former piano teacher left them. She had a recital for her students last night and these flowers were part of the decor. "Who shall I give them to?" she wondered as she drifted off to sleep last night. This morning, while she was walking with a friend who also struggles with chronic illness, my name came up. Just then, my piano teacher heard the Holy Spirit say, "Sarah!! Take the flowers to Sarah!" So she did.
"See, I care; you'll know my tender care through my people."
|Gooood morning, Sunshine!|
In his book about the dignity of work, Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller discusses the different ways God answers the petitions of the Psalmist for food, shelter and clothing. God uses farmers to provide food, tailors to provide clothing, and builders to provide shelter. He provides for us through other people. This morning I've been taking stock of all the ways God has cared for me through his people this month. The list is long.
1. The friend who also sees Dr. N. and, upon learning about my canceled appointment, called him to see if she could give me her appointment. (She couldn't, but the gesture was lovely).
2. The other friend who sees Dr. N., whose mom, upon learning about my canceled appointment, called Dr. N.'s office to say, "You NEED to see Sarah Jackson!"
3. The friend who offered to drive an hour out from L.A. to ensure I got safely on the airplane two weeks ago when I flew to Washington.
4. The friend who offered to drive 1 1/2 hours each way to help me pack.
5. The friend who offered to bring her baby over to keep me company while I was in bed.
6. The friend who called her doctor to see if she treated lyme, and then emailed me her doctor's contact information.
7. The myriad friends and strangers who have emailed me with doctor's names, articles with helpful information, and words of encouragement.
8. My parents and siblings, who ensure I'm not alone on this journey.
9. The friend who's battled lyme for ten years and has talked me through a number of hard spots over the telephone.
10. The friend who's battled lyme for four years and called me before my flight to give me suggestions for surviving in one piece.
11. The new friend who took me to the airport early Sunday morning.
12. The scores of you who have upheld me in prayer.
I'm currently reading Eric Metaxas' book Miracles. Regularly, he reminds me that the whole point of miracles is for Jesus to prove his deity and message his love to us. I'm still waiting for the healing miracle, but in the meantime, he's using you all to message his love to me. Thank you. The healing miracle may not happen this side of heaven, but your compassion sure does make life on earth rich and meaningful. I'm grateful for your participation in God's answers to my prayers for help.
Praying for you all today. Do let me know how I can pray.
Cheering for ya, Skillets,
© by scj