Thank You for Faith Exemplified in Prayer
Faith has been described as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Certainly my challenges of 2021 have revealed the truth of this definition. The reaffirmation of this reality has been evidenced in the outpouring of prayers and encouragement that I have received from family, friends, and even people I have never met. The connection to prayer is powerful. I am awed by its contagious effect. It begins with one who recognizes a need, shares a concern with God and others. Once ignited the light of one candle touches another. The potential for illumination and to touch our spirit, is like the sun dawning a new day. This was certainly my experience. Equally remarkable is the efforts endured by those who understand the significance of their prayers. When I felt I could not endure another challenge, I was aware those praying never ceased their efforts. They provided encouragement, compassion, and assurance, through their prayers and by their example.
My challenges were more than aggressive cancer. The irony has been that life saving treatments played a role in recurring life threatening challenges. The effects of radiation therapy 20 years ago not only precluded non surgical options, but dramatically complicated the surgical risks. Post surgical complications were exacerbated by my 30 year old mechanical heart valve, which requires anticoagulation medications to avoid blood clots. When faced with the emergence of internal bleeding weeks after surgery, there was a need for transfusions and a requirement discontinue blood thinners. The reality was that if the bleeding did not stop within a few days, there would be a clotting risk to the heart valve. This could cause stroke or heart attack, and became a critical crossroad. The need to stop the bleeding and maintain proper anticoagulation were equally critical, yet one need cancelled the other. There were no options. Thank God the bleeding stopped in time.
Looking back I realize there were 20 doctors and dozens of nurses involved in my treatment. Along the way I thanked most of them with this acknowledgement: Thank you for what you are doing for me today. However, I also thank you for all the times you chose to study and attend classes, training to be prepared to help me today. You see one patient before you. What you may not realize are the untold number of lives you affect with the treatment of each individual patient.
So it is with those who pray. You touch lives in ways you will never know. You dedicate time and focus to bring the power of prayer to those who need it. You make a difference. The Sacrament of Baptism in the United Methodist Church includes a congregational response that, for me, may be the most significant words in the hymnal:
“With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, so that these young people ,”……(and others in our presence)….. “ surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal. This is the covenant we make this day.”
What example of Christ do we acknowledge? Invitation, encouragement, compassion, healing, assurance are attributes Jesus displayed in almost every personal encounter. I am witness to the many who have intervened on my behalf and in so doing fulfilled a covenant that matters, so ordering their lives after the example of Christ.
“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Hebrews 3:14)
God Bless You
Thank you Rich for another powerful Wednesday’s Word!
Beloved, continue to “Pray without ceasing!” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)