Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A Cruel Prayer?
“I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains…” What? That sounds so cruel, Brother Lawrence. How can you not pray that someone who is suffering be delivered?
I am reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. He worked in the kitchen of a monastery and had very little education. But what he did have was a profound peace in the midst of poverty, a lowly position, and much hard work. This peace was so profound that visitors to the monastery sought him out to learn his secret. Hence this little book of his writings was assembled.
So this man of great peace wouldn’t pray for his friend to be delivered from his pains… what did he pray for? “…but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross: He will loose you when He thinks fit.” He continues that “men of the world” who consider sickness and pain as just a part of living, and “not as a favour from GOD… find nothing in it but grief and distress. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of GOD, as the effects of His mercy, and the means which He employs for their salvation, commonly find in it great sweetness and sensible consolation… GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health.”
That speaks to my soul. I have experienced that amazing sweetness of the nearness of God during times of unimaginable grief and pain. It’s hard to describe how you can hurt so badly and yet experience the presence of God so sweetly at the same time. God knows that the pain you are suffering through is unbearable. By the way, despite what many will tell you during times of grief and pain, God DOES give you more than you can bear! But He does not make you bear it alone. He uses it to help you see your utter dependence on Him.
So, if you’re a friend of mine, I’m sorry, but I won’t be praying for you to be instantly delivered from any pain and suffering. But I will be praying for God’s profound peace and the sweetness of His amazing presence to carry you through until He has accomplished all that He wants to accomplish in you. God wants so much more for you than your present comfort.
Brother Lawrence continues, “[God] often sends diseases of the body, to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of soul and body." And that is my Unswerving Hope.