Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)
Sometimes the abject hopelessness of circumstances, with a little devilish prompting, makes us begin to act as though our Desperate Little Friends are meant to be where they are. As we said on Day One, these are hard questions. Why are so many still so wretched?
“Who has sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind” and left to beg on the streets (John 9:1-12)? We’re such great compartmentalizers! Those who suffer patiently get our “Book of Job Award and Citation,” with never a thought, “Is this trial meant to last forever?” or “What if it were MY trial?”
Those who don’t remain serene have at times been abandoned to their lack of faith or a false notion of the Lord’s endless, unremittent “testing,” as if He just could not seem to affect a breakthrough for them, thus they must remain oppressed. Such prolonged testing might, but also might not be of God, and what if they were our children or parents or loved ones? What if their ordeal was undermining rather than building their faith?
What if the testing turns out to be as much ours as theirs? What if the acute pain we see around us proves our hearts as much as the hearts of those who suffer? Have we, perhaps, been passing by on the other side of the road?
It is something like this, I think, but thinking hurts! If those we know, those on our lists, who suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even for those who seem not to suffer at all while their sins and misdeeds mount up, if we pray at all, how shall we pray? If you made a list of Desperate Little Friends, their desperation likely melted your heart, made you want to be a part of their breakthrough, but if we will not care deeply, if we will not stay the course, why start? (Like I said, thinking hurts!). If we prayed a time or two, judged our D.L.F.s to be unchanged and their circumstances unchanging, were they really not in great need after all? See paragraphs two and three!
This isn’t the fast-food window. This might be the no food window, for a season! Understandably, in human terms, we have strayed from the idea of praying until the answer comes, in part because there have been too many wounded, too many in too great a need, too long a line waiting for an organ donor. There are only just so many fresh, clean, strong and beating hearts available for transplant!
Thank God we do not have to wait for the help they need. We are the help they need. Of course it is only Who the Lord is and what He can do that will change things, but our caring, with faith and obedience, has to be the best we can do, and it has to be what they need from us and why we are made to be a House of Prayer, more than anything else. I have seen marriages, divisions, bondages, fears, turn on the head of a pin, spinning away from destruction, never to wound any more. I have also known my deepest, most heartfelt prayers to go answered, or not with the answer I sought, but I have never known caring to fail, because it never comes to an end.
Even as I write, I am remembering a couple for whom I cared deeply, whose marriage ended in an awful divorce, complete with infidelity and an aborted inconvenient baby, not to mention emotional cruelty beyond description. My thoughts turned to my friend, the wife, with whom I am still close. But he! Her former husband … for him I very, very seldom pray anymore, I just realized. I will check with the Lord today and see if I have been released from that responsibility or not. If not, the heart that still beats strong is my own, and I need to employ it, caring, caring deeply, for as long as it takes. I see that I do not care about him; I just need to check to see if the Lord still does.
We cannot stay on our knees all day long, and we cannot make anything or anyone change. But this I have seen, faithfulness is required of us, and faithfulness without mercy and compassion, love and steadfastness, is not the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
Wikipedia, fair use, by permission
Dr. John P. Merrill (left) explains the workings of a then-new machine called an artificial kidney to Richard Herrick (middle) and his brother Ronald (right). The Herrick twin brothers were the subject of the world’s first successful kidney transplant, Ronald being the donor.