Last night was an opportunity to speak to a group of women who are going through difficult times. Prior to the chapel service start, our team spends time mingling, introducing ourselves and asking what they would like for us to pray for. We take their names if they want to give them and write down their specific requests. We have a very special group of prayer warriors that receive these requests and are committed to faithful prayers for women they will never meet this side of heaven.
I didn’t make it very far with my introductions before standing by two women, one about my age and another younger. The older of the two shared first and a specific scripture came to my mind that had been, and still is, a source of great encouragement to me as her request was similar to prayers I’ve had for my own family. I helped her find it in the bible I had just given her and encouraged her to mark it and declare it over her situation. She was very open and friendly, grateful for the time I had taken with her.
As we talked, the younger of the two listened quietly from the wheelchair which held her. I didn’t recognize any particular emotion on her face and the bible I had given her lay untouched on her lap. I turned to speak directly to her and ask what I could pray for on her behalf. The floodgates opened with hurt and anger that poured forth in a deluge that took me by surprise. I have faced some difficult things in my life, but in moments like these I am humbled and ashamed of any complaining I have ever let escape my lips. I cannot truly comprehend the depth of her pain, the wounds still excruciatingly raw from indescribable abuse suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to love her. She kept repeating these things as if she were still in disbelief herself.
“Where was God when this was happening to me?” “God doesn’t love me!!” “Why didn’t He stop them?” “What am I going to do now?”
What do you say?
No matter how “prayed up” I think I am, no matter how much thought and study I have put into the preparation to be in this place, nothing feels adequate in this moment. My mind races to find the right words. There aren’t many. This is an important point. There aren’t many words that can respond in any way that will be sufficient. We need to accept that. Words don’t do it.
The enemy is quick to come with the thought that I have to defend God. Me defend God? Who am I to think that I could defend Him, much less think that He needs me to defend Him. He doesn’t. I can’t explain Him either. He is.
Without preparation, I would be left with only an emotional response or the limitations of my intellect, both of which are sadly deficient. This kind of gut-wrenching interaction is uncomfortable, to say the least. My emotions won’t hold up. They are not enough. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. I don’t have the knowledge that comes from professional training for these situations. What limited knowledge I have in my brain is severely lacking when it comes to something like this. My mind cannot provide what I need. It’s not enough.
Prayer, meditation and study are essential. I must rely on God. I must believe that He is big enough to use me, to help me respond in a way that reveals Him. And He is faithful.
I listened, let her pour it out, looked her straight in the eyes and told her God loved her. It was met with anger and frustration, but it was the only thing I could say. I took her face in my hands and repeated it. My tears flowed freely with hers as I told her He loved her so much He gave His Son to die for her so that she would have hope. I held her and wept with her as she sobbed in my arms, clinging to me as if to squeeze any measure of hope out of me and into her. “I love you, God loves you and He’s made a way for you. I don’t know what it is, but I know He is. HE IS.” It’s the only thing God gave me to say.
Minutes later as I spoke to the crowd that had gathered she remained in my line of sight. I had prepared my message, but I couldn’t tell you now what I said. God took over. We were honored to pray with many as the evening came to a close. But forever etched in my heart is the face of this young woman as she came to the front, not to ask for prayer or anything, but just to be near. She smiled a smile of God-given peace that caught everyone’s attention.
What do you say? Whatever He says. Nothing more, nothing less. This gospel message we say we believe is the most powerful formation of words ever to be spoken: God loves you, Jesus died for you, there is hope because HE IS. We must be willing to go where He says go, say what He says say, do what He says do without consulting our emotions or intellect to ask if we want to or if we are able! We cannot wait until we think we know what to say or what to do. Hurting people cannot wait until we have it all together. He’s asked us to be empty of ourselves and full of Him and just GO. We have to trust Him because HE IS and it’s more than enough.
…I AM… Exodus 3:14