“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
We hear reports from distant shores and nearby corner stores of friends who bear the marks of loss of one kind or another. Cancer has made itself at home and lurks uninvited in their vulnerable cells, robbing their energy and dignity like a masked bandit in veiled disguise. Others have spouses who have flown the coop, yellow-bellied vultures with talons and beady eyes pilfering peace at a high price.
Limited as we are, we come up short in our efforts to comfort and bring aid. Our storehouse of words quickly thins out and we stagger on empty, struggling to provide them something of significance. We offer meager crumbs when their depleted souls require the nourishment of a banquet table spread with abundant meat and drink.
We take our earnest desires for them to the only One who has ever been capable of carrying such a staggering load. We appeal for health and strength and endurance; we seek for them comfort, guidance and peace. But for the ones whose fingers are slipping off the rock and whose feet dangle over a wide open-mouthed chasm below, we plead for more…more grace, more mercy and a grounded, steadfast hope.
We want the Lord to give them an unshakable, unwavering faith that will persist in believing, that will cause them to cling to his resolute promises until it becomes the air in their lungs. As they labor to fight discouragement, to overcome despair, to see through the bleakness, we want them to rest in the irrefutable truth that God is fully present, especially when circumstances snicker otherwise.
Lord, remind our friends to keep holding on because you are holding them. Tell them again that they can believe your promises because each one is backed by your perfect nature. Reassure them that you will supply enough grace to endure, enough strength for right now, because you are limitless in every conceivable way.
Lord, help our friends to believe, to remember, to speak out loud so their own soul and all who are nearby know: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell