Like cackles from a henhouse, trivial comments fill the facebook page – except for his.
One here, “What did I do to deserve this,” and one there, “Why is this happening to me.” Lonely cries for help. Bobbing up and down, like flares from a lifeboat, in the middle of shark infested waters, he posts his comments.
You’ve seen him before, remember? He sat near the wall, all by himself. Everyone was smiling, eating and laughing – except him. He just pushed food back and forth with his fork. You wondered if you should do something to cheer him up, just say hi, or simply tell him to have a nice day. But, you were busy. Me too.
And he silently screamed for help, all alone in a crowded room.
He keys in questions, but what he really means to say is a statement, “I’m dying. Please help.” Desperate for an answer he rephrases and sends out another SOS. “I pray and pray every day for this pain to go away …this is so heartbreaking… not being able to see or hear or talk to my kids is killing me… I don't know what to do… I just wanna give up and forget everything.”
He pulls painful breath through heavy air, and prays for this endless silent night to end. Christmas glitter only rips opens and salts the wound.
Finally despair gives way to fear, and fear, to fight-or-flight: “I CAN’T TAKE THIS #!% NO MORE. I HOPE SOMETHING HAPPENDS SOON.
He spells happens: happends. Probably a typo, but an accurate description of his hearts’ cry: whatever is happening must END soon.
His friends reply with words of comfort… “Everything’s gonna work out… Stay strong bud…Hang in there…You’re a lot stronger than you think…Love You.”
I figured maybe we could talk, so I sent my own message.
“I just read you're goin' through a hard time - call me. I've been in your shoes and know the choking feeling of pain. There is a way to ease this and in the long run honor your children. I'll be praying for you.”
He called. I drove up to the little country church where it was quiet, and I could be alone, and talk on the phone. I sat in the parking lot and for an hour or so we burned up the phone. We talked, and talked and talked.
And then we prayed.
We finished praying. He said, “Wow, I’ve never heard one that long before. And um…maybe it worked.” And the phone went silent for a moment or two. “Because, I got a couple tears.”
I failed to stifle a chuckle and said, “The length of the prayer doesn’t matter, but the depth of God’s love does. And that’s, plenty, deep, enough to cross this river. And if I was better at prayin’ it wouldn’t have taken so long. Sorry.”
We cackled a little like facebook-chickens and said our good-byes. Sometime during our call, night had fallen. I stared out the windshield into the starry night, the endless silent night, and felt peace and prayed he would find the same.
Later that evening I saw him post again on facebook. Only this time it wasn’t flares from a sinking lifeboat, but fireworks from a Celebration Cruise: “I guess praying does work cuz I got a call from my kids. I talked to them for about an hour. I will be seeing them this weekend. They are coming to stay with daddy, I am so happy.”
Prayer works. God cares. He does, He really does.
But, I’m not so naïve as to think all of life’s problems are settled after one pep-talk and a prayer. Life isn’t quite that simple.
Life is like trying to wrap a puppy for Christmas. It doesn’t sit nice and quiet in a pretty little box, with a pretty little bow under a pristine tree. The puppy shreds the paper, pees on the presents and runs off with the angel-tree-topper knocked off the tilting tree by Uncle Bob and his eggnog. Wrinkled paper, bows and ribbons litter the floor and the kids play with the box more than the toy…
But, in the midst of all the chaos there is a song playing, a place of quiet rest, a place near to the heart of God where a Silent Night, is a Holy Night, where all is calm, and all is bright, where glory streams and angels sing, where Loves Pure Light brings sleep in heavenly peace.
God's gift is good tidings of great joy, to all people; Immanuel : God with us.
When we spend time with The Answer, the questions don’t seem so hard.
He cares for you, He really does.
Have a merry, a very merry Christmas.
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