Tag Archives: afflictions

Praying, Suffering, with Psalm 34

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 1, 2017

Psa 34-19 afflictions, script

Praying, Suffering, with Psalm 34

When I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in prison, the companion thoughts of suffering and deprivation also come to mind.

I could shake my fists, cry out to heaven and ask God, “Why?” Except, I do not think I would receive any sort of an answer. I know, many righteous people have been unjustly imprisoned throughout the centuries.

Looking at Psalm 34:19, “The righteous person must suffer many things; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Bonhoeffer also meditated and prayed at length over this verse. (I secretly wonder how much comfort he found in it?) “The righteous person suffers because of many things that for others seem only natural and unavoidable. The righteous person suffers because of unrighteousness, because of the senselessness and absurdity of events in the world.” [1]

Senselessness and absurdity. That is certainly true, and has been true for thousands of years.

And yet—and yet—“the Lord delivers him.”

God is always present, all over the world. The righteous person is always with God, no matter where, no matter what. Bonhoeffer had the unshakeable belief that “God allows him to suffer so, in order that he may learn to love God for God’s own sake. In suffering, the righteous person finds God. That is his deliverance.” [2]

I am afraid I am a far weaker person than Pastor Dietrich. I do not know whether I would have been able to suffer such deprivations as he did. I read his writings and am in awe of such faith and devotion. I pray that I may be able to display just a small part of Bonhoeffer’s resilience and faithfulness.

Lord, in Your mercy, help me in my journey through life with You, whether difficult or not. In times of suffering and pain, or times of calm and serenity, You are with me.

@chaplaineliza

 

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[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 88.

[2] Ibid.

How to Heal. In Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 29, 2015

healing prayers

How to Heal. In Prayer.

More about healing? God wants to heal broken relationships, bruised feelings, imperfect people. And, God can heal actual, physical illness and disease, too.

Sometimes, as C.S. Lewis notes in his book A Grief Observed, a person deals with much more than physical illness. It is somehow magnified by feelings of desperate loneliness, or quiet despair, or sharp pangs of regret. And what about resentment, screwed up so tight, or anger, simmering like a kettle over a high flame on the stovetop.

Yes, God is intimately familiar with all of these afflictions, too.

I was especially intrigued by something Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote, shortly before he died. Cardinal Bernardin was the head of all Catholics in the Chicago area for some years. He said, especially in respect to his ministry to cancer sufferers, “the worst suffering is isolation, feeling cut off.” [1] The most profound thing we can do, oftentimes, is just show up.

Rev. Howell gives another example, too. He states, “a friend of mine spent a week in Lourdes, the shrine in France where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. . . . When my friend returned, I asked her, ‘Did you see any miracles?’ She said, ‘Oh yes, every day.’ … ‘Every day at Lourdes, no matter who you are, or where you are from, or what’s wrong with you, you are welcomed, and loved.’” [2]

Yes, God can be seen, healing from something physical. True. And yes, it can be in some quiet way where the chaplain comes alongside without words—with the ministry of presence, or sitting beside a family in fresh grief and anguish and praying. Or, speaking softly with a senior, encouraging their heart at the sad prospect of a life with limited mobility. I repeat what Rev. Howell said through his friend, “No matter who you are, or where you are from, or what’s wrong with you, you are welcomed, and loved.”

Isn’t that what all this is about? Yes, it would be so nice if the crowds were suddenly healed from all physical infirmity, or healings continued in some stadium-sized venue. But that must not be what God wants. God’s priorities are not the same as our priorities. Not always, anyway.

Yes, Jesus healed, physically. Sometimes in a big way, usually in a public way, occasionally in a quiet way. Not only physical healing, but emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing. Jesus cured relationships, and restored individuals to fellowship with God and with each other. Do you want that for yourself today? Jesus will heal you in the most intimate way possible, so you can enjoy being forever-friends with Him.

And, how awesome is that?

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 89.

[2] Ibid, 90.