At this particular time I'm in cyberspace touch with several dozen precious Christian friends throughout the country who are undergoing various serious physical illnesses, cancer, surgeries, chemo and radiation therapies, dialysis, etc. Some face chronic illness that seems to stretch endlessly. They have asked for my prayers. I regularly pray for each one by name. Some of them are suffering clusters of “tribulations” all at the same time and are despairing over their weakness to cope with it all.
They ask, “How can I hang on?”
They ask, “How can I hang on?”
Just before my lung cancer surgery years ago at the University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, my relatives with whom I was staying took me to Fulton, Missouri where we toured the Westminster Memorial Library. Their thoughtful intention was to divert my mind from the life threatening major surgery that I was soon to undergo.
An oversize statue of Winston Churchill took up the entire corner of one room when we walked in. A boy about age six and his mother were also looking at the statue. Since Churchill was sculpted in a seated position, the child suddenly took a notion to slip under the guard ropes and climb up on the immense stone lap of Churchill.
"Oh! Be careful!" cried his mother. "Hold on! Don't fall!"
The youngster replied, "If he was real, he'd hold on to me!" Out of the mouth of babes!
Yes, real people care for and hold on to children who get into precarious situations. God is real! He is not an unfeeling, powerless, man made statue. We are His children, and He cares about us. My suffering friends are in a dire place right now in their physical needs. I pray that God will be as real to them as He was when they were in the full bloom of health. When we can't hold on to Him in our weakness, He will hold on to us. We can't slip from His embrace.
No matter how well prepared we think we are for crisis times in our lives, when we are in the midst of physical traumas, we feel incredibly helpless. We don't even have the strength to climb onto God's lap let alone hold on to the Him. We want to act strong and brave. We want to be an example of a believer, one who has it all together. But when illness strikes, we feel like a limp, deflated balloon.
When I was in the midst of my surgical cancer adventure, I fully intended to pray a lot while lying in my hospital bed. I hoped I would be a spiritual example, a witness. I memorized Scripture promises in advance to recite to myself and give me courage. But when the time came, my foggy, medicated, anesthetized mind couldn't recall any of them. I was simply unable to think deep, spiritual thoughts, or even formulate decent prayers. In fact, I struggled to think at all. I was disappointed in myself. I had regressed to helpless, infant basics not capable of caring for or controlling myself. I just had to be quiet and let God hold me close. And that was okay....
Lord, please be “real” to my friends in this critical time of their need. Hold on to them. Invite them to climb up on Your big lap and snuggle up while You put Your strong arms around them. Let them experience You as “Abba, Father.” Let them rest quietly and cease from struggling to act bravely. Cuddle them to Yourself and pull the “blanket” of Your Holy Spirit around them in His role as “Comforter.”
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (Isaiah 40:29).