Wednesday is for Prayer
“A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985.”
—Shanker Vedantam, in a Washington Post article titled,
“Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says” (June 23, 2006)
cited in Living the Lord’s Supper, chapter 1.
It is ironic in the extreme that in a world where we are instantly “connected” to thousands we feel more alone than ever before.
Smart phones, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, texting capability, all manner of electronic wizardry, and yet the isolation of the typical American seems to deepen with every passing day. News reports from plethora of outlets, [anyone to fit any prejudice a person may have], bombards us with images and “story lines” and “facts” and “conclusions” and “summaries” at such blinding speed that we have no time to process the validity of any narrative.
No one stops and waits on the biblical proverb, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17) We rush to judgment and then suffer the consequences. Convinced that only our perspective is accurate, we judge everyone else’s motives impure. I’ve done it. And so have you. And the result is that we lose connection. We lose the very thing we need to keep us from sinking into an oblivion of isolation from one another.
Every pastor has the experience every week. A man or a woman calls. Overwhelmed by life. The details change but the story is the same. Life is hard and they are lost, befuddled, confused, fearful. The hurt has caused them to wake up for just a moment and realize how desperate their situation is, how ill-equipped they are to deal with it, and as they evaluate their resources and find no one to talk to, no one to bear the burden of life with, no one to help them navigate through the swamp of this sometimes wonderful and sometimes bewildering thing called life.
So they call.
And we listen.
And we pray.
And we marshal the resources we have to help them.
And we seek to be Jesus to them.
And we seek to show them and introduce them to others who will be Jesus to them.
And we pray with them again.
And we point them to Jesus.
And we point them to passages in their Bible.
And we encourage them to trust.
And we check up on them.
And we are always stunned.
Stunned that they have no one to talk to.
And so, we talk to them.
And we talk to Jesus for them and about them.
And we know that they need exactly what we are giving.
And that they are hard of hearing.
And all we are trying to do is pump hope into them like we are the billows and they are a dying fire.
Oh God, give your people patience and compassion and emotional stamina to love people until they know that it is not us but you that loves them more than they can imagine. Give them yourself to talk to, and lift, and encourage, and empower them. Help us to carry them to you so that you can heal the hurts this world inflicts. Would you use us in this way? Would you, for the glory of your name put your love on display through us? In Jesus name I ask it. Amen.