The Father’s hands, by Beverley
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8–11
Again we look at hope; again we look at suffering. In the New Testament, Paul writes about these interlinked topics the most. And here he emphasizes the importance of prayer.
A couple of years ago my husband and I experienced the fear that is borne of one’s child being ill. Our son, who had gone to sleep without complaint, was barely able to breathe at midnight. As we wondered what was wrong, we made the necessary calls and almost reflexively gave our son over to God’s care. We waited for the emergency medics and I prayed over my son with words from deep within – while trying not to frighten him further. Soon help arrived and he was breathing oxygen and feeling better. A middle-of-the-night trip to the hospital was necessary, but the crisis passed with a diagnosis of croup and tonsillitis. He will recover, praise God.
My suffering was short-lived but intense, as fleetingly I wondered how I would cope if my son ceased to breathe. But I knew I had to put those thoughts aside and turn to prayer. Similarly, Paul, through speaking of his experiences, exhorts the believers at Corinth not to give up as they suffered but to pray. Again Paul is not downplaying suffering, but shows how through it we can increasingly rely on God instead of ourselves. And he emphasizes how God lovingly answers prayer.
As we see God move in our lives, we build our faith on his solid foundation. In this instance, our son soon was well – praise God. But if God had allowed him to die, I pray we too would not have despaired unto death but somehow held onto our sure hope of heaven. I pray you and I will be spared such heartbreaking trials, by God’s mercy.
Prayer: Lord, we remember the many children in many lands of the world who are suffering today and have no access to medical care. Lord, have mercy.