Wednesday, July 4, 2012Scripture Reading—Mark 9:14-29
There aren’t many things more heart-wrenching than to see a child with a seemingly incurable disease or condition. This week, Centenary has been working with and praying for Brandan Herman and his mother Sophia who have come to Richmond from St. Lucia through the World Pediatric Project. (www.worldpediatricproject.org) Five-year old Brandan has had a very difficult and complex heart surgery to repair his heart and has been having a tough recovery. Our congregation continues to pray for Brandan and Sophia that through the excellent medical care at VCU Health System and the healing power of God, Brandan will soon be on his way to better health. In Mark's Gospel, the father in this story had a child with a terrible condition. I know the gospel writer attributes the boy’s behavior to a demon, but it sure sounds a lot like what we would call epilepsy. Jesus has just returned from the Mt. of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John. The remaining disciples are left to respond to the father’s pleas for help until Jesus shows up. They remember all they’ve seen Jesus do for sick people and think that maybe they can pull off the miracle the father seeks. But they aren’t able. Jesus expresses frustration in this parable at his disciples’ lack of faith and that the father’s faith is mixed with doubt. But Jesus heals the boy. His anger at the lack of faith subsides and when the disciples ask why they couldn’t heal the boy Jesus tells them that healing for such a serious illness requires much prayer. We know that prayer doesn’t bring healing, at least healing as we envision it, in every situation. The truth is, faith-filled prayer is always open to God’s future and does not dictate to God what we think the answer should look like. I don’t always understand the connection between our prayers for others, the world, and ourselves and the outcomes that our prayers produce. But I am certain that prayer works. It links us in solidarity with people in pain. It makes us slow down and listen to God, for God may be calling us to be part of the solution to the problem for which we pray. And in some mysterious, inexplicable way, I know that prayer invites God into the most difficult and heart-rending circumstances—even those places where innocent children suffer and need God’s help and our love.
Thought for the day: Through prayer, we invite God to be present with us, others, and our world in those places where people suffer the most.
Prayer: O God, even though I do not fully understand the way prayer works, please help me never to grow weary in praying for those who suffer, for we know you promise to hear our prayers and be present with us, especially in those places where suffering is greatest. Amen.