I was just about to check email one morning last week when the familiar Skype signal started up, with a message that Lijda was calling; Tante Lijda, my dear aunt in Holland. She is just 15 years older than I am and 9 years younger than Mum, her last living sister. She is usually brave; stoic--always exhorting us to "Hou je taai!" Translated from Dutch, that would be, "Hang tough!" or "Never say die." But last week she wasn't hanging tough; the circumstances of her life were weighing heavy on her. She was always fun, a party girl! I remember her always out camping on the beach with her family, or skiing in Austria, but this is a different season for her. I tried to encourage her, and Paul and I have been praying since that call.
Then I spoke with Rob and Mum on Saturday, as I always do. Rob too, was feeling discouraged. He lives with chronic fatigue and chronic pain, which is getting worse. Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows how much his dog Bruce means to us all, but on Saturday he said, "I may have to give him up Belinda." Walking his tough little Staffordshire Bull Terrier is just getting to be too much. He told me that he can only manage half the distance he could when I was there in August. I left the conversation wishing I was close enough to help. I felt powerless and so sad for him, both for the pain he is in and for the fact that he has to consider giving up the dog that was a gift from God.
This morning I came to prayer with these cares on my heart, and some relational knots that needed untangling. I simply came to my Father as the friend he is, above all other friends, and I poured out my heart in a conversation as easy as if he were on the couch beside me. I told him about my worries and cares and then quietly listened.
Just placing my cares in his hands made me feel better. Those I love and ache for in their difficulties are safe and secure when placed in his care; I believe that with all of my heart.
My other conundrums received an answer. My soul sighed deeply in relief.
Joseph Scriven's beautiful poem, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, set to music by Charles C. Converse, expresses so well, the privilege we have in prayer.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)