Saturday, June 23, 2007

Praying through pain to praise!

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Job 35, 36, 37; Psalm 99

Job 36:15 (NIV)

15 But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction.

Job: 36:24-26a (NIV)

24 Remember to extol His work, which men have praised in song. 25 All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar. 26 How great is God – beyond our understanding!

James 5:13-16 (NIV)

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Good morning!

It is hard to be happy when you are hurting. I’ve found that to be so very true in my life. Last month, I stood near the bedside of my daughter Rachel as she and her husband Dave gave birth to their third child, a son named Andrew Joseph. I’m always amazed at Rachel’s determination to get through as much of her labor as possible without medication. I’m afraid I wasn’t so brave when I was birthing my babies.

I remember the day I arrived at the hospital to deliver our daughter Rachel. It was one of the hottest days of the year. We were living in Dallas, Texas, and in the summer of 1979, we began breaking heat records with weeks of unending all-time high temperatures of over 100°F. I waddled into labor and delivery that morning in a pool of sweat. The thermometer outside the hospital was registering 110°. I was miserable, being three weeks overdue (almost ten months pregnant), and my unhappy attitude was a reflection of this unfortunate circumstance. It’s a funny thing when you go to seminary – all of a sudden, every clergy student realizes they can get into the hospitals to visit at any time of the day or night to pray over the sick and infirm without being stopped by security. On this sizzling summer day, while I labored to deliver our daughter, there was au unending stream of seminarians outside in the hospital corridor just waiting for a chance to come inside our room to pray for me. God love ‘em! They would show up in between my three minute contractions while I was panting and puking, and I would try to smile and be sweet, but you know, it just wasn’t meant to be. After several long-winded visits by Jeff’s friends, I motioned for my husband to draw near to me and hold my hand. As he leaned over the bed, I grabbed his dress tie and pulled his sweet little face down toward my sweaty forehead. With eyes affixed on his and with as much love as I could possibly muster, I told my loving spouse through gritted teeth that if he let one more minister into my room, I was going to kill them both. For the safety of all clergy everywhere, Jeff promptly posted a no visitor sign on my door. And later that evening as the clergy stood and prayed outside in the waiting room, Jeff and I gave birth to our 8 pound 7 ounce baby daughter, Rachel Maria.

Any woman who has ever given birth knows the true meaning of being delivered in their suffering. God speaks to us smack dab in the middle of our affliction. We see Him clearly in the midst of adversity and pain. Elihu reminds Job to pray and praise the Lord, especially when the pain is unbearable. God’s greatness is beyond human comprehension – we cannot understand it. He glories in our praises, and honors us when we choose to praise Him, especially when we suffer through times of physical weakness and pain.

One thing I’ve learned about the power of prayer is that it works! There were a lot of righteous men outside my hospital room that day, praying for the new life to come. We had a beautiful, healthy baby girl that night. Last month, after a difficult and stressful pregnancy, our daughter Rachel delivered a healthy baby boy. How I praise God for His mercy and grace, in the midst of suffering and pain.

Last night, Jeff and I sat in the movie theatre, enjoying the new film, Evan Almighty. This is a great show – be sure to take your entire family to the theatre to see it! I found it interesting that the prayer of one willing civil servant to help change the world was the turning point that made all the difference for his entire community. Lives were saved and lessons learned because one person asked God to help them change the world. When we pray and praise, especially in times of suffering and pain, we become human conduits, unleashing the amazing power of God all over the world.

Take a lesson from our friend Job today, and remember to pray and praise the Lord, always, in every circumstance, every day of your life. Miracles do happen, and they begin at the foot of the cross, where our Lord’s horrific suffering became the reality for humanity’s delivery from sin and death forever.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: someone to pray hard! Maybe that someone should be you. Have you dropped to your knees this morning and offered your humble prayer to the Lord?


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