Thoughts & Prayers
[In full disclosure I do believe that prayer serves a purpose and works. The meme is simply to drive a point home. My hope is that the point is grasped by the time you finish reading this post…also Anthony Jeselnik is funny!]
Tragedy strikes our lives more often than we’d like in different ways on different days. Sometimes it is within our immediate family and sometimes extended family or friends. Other times it strikes our community or country. In any way that it comes, it has a way of bringing us to our knees.
My sister in law recently spent some time in the hospital for some medical issues that came on quite suddenly. Doctors were unsure what had caused her lower limb on the right side of her body to lose feeling and go numb. The deficit was causing problems with her gait and she was forced to use a walker to get around. My sister in law is 37 years old. Can you imagine yourself at 37 years old unable to use your body in the manner in which you do every single day. When you can no longer quickly run into a store on your own or get a workout in or take yourself to your follow up doctor and physical therapy appointments that you need for your recovery. We often get so busy with life that we take for granted all that we are capable of. I know I do. But illness and injury have a way of humbling us a bit, don’t they? We are suddenly able to see the blessings in the simple things. My sister in law sat in her hospital bed fearing the unknown, looking for answers and wondering how all of the plans her and her family had would be kept. Her and her husband and to work, the kids had school and sports and travel plans were on the horizon. All of the ins and outs of the day still needed to be taken care of, not to mention all of the new appointments that would be added to their schedule.
As a means of keeping all friends and family up to speed with her condition my brother in law, Dustin posted updates to Facebook. As people began to learn of what their family was facing they began to comment on the post. Some people offered their help, some asked questions and some offered thoughts and prayers.
Some people both believers and non-believers alike may see the term” thoughts and prayers” and take comfort from it. But some might ask, what are those people saying when they offer up their thoughts and prayers? If it’s me and I tell you that my thoughts are with you, I am saying that I am concerned about you, I have empathy for what you’re going through and I care about you. Sometimes knowing that you are not forgotten brings comfort. Knowing that you have the support, understanding and love of people that genuinely care for you is powerful.
I have a friend that would never tell you that he’ll pray for you. Why? Because he simply will not; he’ll forget. Which makes me wonder how many of the people that offer their prayers immediately stop what they are doing and pray? How many of them are of their word?
I’ve heard it said that thoughts and prayers serve no purpose in the hardest moments of one’s life. Thoughts and prayers are useless attempts at doing something when really you’re offering nothing to a person in that is down and out or in complete despair. Cooking a meal for the family, helping with transport to doctor appointments, shuffling the kids around to their activities so that they can maintain normalcy in chaotic times are all gestures that hold worth and show love and support to the person or family in need of it. Thoughts and prayers are sweet and kind but lack action. Thanks for thinking of me but your thoughts don’t help my wife, husband, son, daughter, father, mother, best friend et cetera. When our thoughts fall short of action they are not valued. What about your prayers? To a non-believer your prayers are you simply lifting your voice up to a sky void of power. You may as well be asking a rock to heal their loved one. Unless however, control and hope in their situation has been lost. When there is no hope, people claw for anything concrete anything with a firm foundation that they can find hope in that they need to believe that a miracle will happen.
Having a strong foundation grounds you when life gets tough, as we are promised it will. God, the creator of Heaven and earth, the one who is all powerful, the one who holds all of the cards is the only one that grants miracles. He knows our thoughts and hears our prayers and for those of us who believe, the hope we gain from them is inspiring. BUT, is it enough? Is it enough to simply show concern, ask God for help and then sit on the sidelines with no action?
My brother in law does not believe in God and has doubts about his people. His doubt comes from people that say they are people of God but act to the contrary. I can’t blame him. We are all sinners and we all fall short, but those of us that claim to be God’s people know better and are held to a higher standard, as we should be. We know God; therefore we know what he wants from us. We are to serve others, especially those that are in need of our service. We are to show generosity with our finances, our time and our resources. We are to be HIS hands and feet. So I ask again, are thoughts and prayers enough?
Plain and simple the answer is no. Will my brother in law ever change his mind about God? Only God knows, but I do know this. There is more of a chance of him seeing God in us when we are honoring him in all we do. His mind will never change as long as God’s people sit on the sideline doing no more than offering their thoughts and prayers. We are called to be a people of action and I for one don’t want to be the one turning anyone away from God. He’s a scary dude.
So while tragedy brings us to our knees, those that are still on our feet need to use them to serve those that are not and lend our hands to lift them back up.