"Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief." Psalm 143:1 NIV
He pitched a tent and spent a sleepless night beside his crumbled home protecting what little earthly possessions remained. In early morning light while he awaits help to gather his things and leave town, a single reporter asks him, "What's next?" He simply and emphatically answers, "pray."
I feel helpless watching images of ravaged homes piled high like pick-up-sticks and listening to reports of school children still missing or worse. Reports tell of parents calling out their children's names into the night in Moore, Oklahoma. I swallow back tears from fresh December memories of our own Newtown tragedy and wonder how much more can we handle. More storms. More tragedy. More loss. More.
What do you do when more is too much?
My family's experienced its own personal crises this year; losses that left our earthly possessions in tact but splintered our hearts. Our losses happened too close together, scrambled my thoughts and my words. Getting it all down on paper seems harder these days because I think, "who wants to drink up my grief when the world's got plenty more to offer?" So I close the page and surf Facebook in search of some joy, knowing full well I won't find it there, but it's easier than praying right then.
Bored from re-reading all the same posts, I sit and jot down my thoughts - like this blog is my form of prayer. There's nothing more I can do but cry out, "Mercy! No more, dear God. Mercy, please." And God reminds me of Paul's words in Romans:
"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
Romans 5:3-4 NIV
Perseverance. Character. Hope. All qualities that separate thrivers from survivors - qualities that only come through suffering and loss.
And our hope? While we stand amidst our splintered lives - God is faithful and righteous and provides relief. First, he sent his one and only son, Jesus who died for us, becoming our Way of adoption into God's family. And through his resurrection, our hope of life eternal is fulfilled. Second, he sent us one another to help carry us through tough times.
Even while I finish these last few lines, my phone rings. A dear friend smiles on the other end of the phone and simply speaks encouraging words. My lips curl up and my heart feels just a bit lighter than before. I breathe a prayer, thankful that relief came in such a loving package. Thank-you, Lord.
When life is hard, when more is too much and you've found prayer hard, how has God shown his mercy and faithfulness to you?