Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thought Picnic: Feeding the hungry on feasts of prayer

Absence has burdens

There are times when adversity appears to settle like a thick fog over the hopes of a person that they cannot see beyond the immediacy of the situation they are in.

One has to resist the urge to wallow as a hand reaches out either in help or recognition of the situation you are in. I do well health wise for a person who once had cancer it no more feels like an issue of importance for my present until in the quest for work people start to ask questions about the gaps in my work experience profile.

I was out for 11 months when my health deteriorated and I found out I had cancer, had chemotherapy and returned fortunately finding work within 7 weeks of my ending that therapy but will only enough strength to do 32 hours a week with Wednesdays off.

Soon my strength caught up but I was not doing what essentially was my core skill and as things changed, some distance was developing between what I once knew and what is now out there, getting back into the that rat race of cutting-edge technology had been fraught as my old network has been unable to invite me to some new project and the new prospects have difficulty placing me not to talk of my confidence that has had a good hit over the last 8 months.

It is what I have called the long tail of illness and sometimes, it is the tail wagging the dog.

The leap of faith

@DoubleEph shared a link on Facebook from The Washington Post which referred to an article titled How unemployment has affected my relationship with God [1] which I then shared on Twitter and it started off a conversation.

Whilst I will not recount his story, I found some similarities with my situation; he had had a spinal surgery and appeared to have the support of his church community in prayer and all the best wishes.

Beyond that, he seemed to be alone in a struggle to have his prayers answered for a change in his circumstances. Maybe employers are taking a leap of faith engaging an employee who has had a health problem, one cannot say but as I have learnt, recovery is much more than beating disease it is also the fight to maybe retain what you have and possibly to regain the position and status you once had.

Without opportunity however, the risk is total loss and there is no telling how the person might deal with that circumstance.

Prayer for practical issues

He then touches on the issue of prayer and many had prayed and he had prayed too but when answered did not seem to materialise his fellow Christians began to doubt his Christianity on the one hand and then suggest that God is putting him through a test on the other hand.

For practical purposes one if left to review what options one has left, more fervent prayer or a relent on hope, seeking mercy for grace. I opined that sometimes the matter of prayer did sometimes seem like one was being water-boarded to confess under duress some secret that might bring respite.

A respite maybe a break or dare to have even a breakthrough; some miraculous event that sweeps away the weathered clouds and allows you to bask in the refreshing sunlight of unlimited blessing.

Finding the other side of the road

Beyond Christianity is the more involved and particular Christian living, like the story of the Good Samaritan, there are many who have been mugged and bludgeoned by life, circumstance or illness; left for dead on the road relieved of all their means.

They are visible enough for the many who ply the same road to see but they pass to the other side of the road, conveniently avoiding the act of compassionate involvement with the good intentions of a silent prayer that the victim might just keep alive until a better person comes to help.

As the victim lapses in and out of consciousness the Good Samaritan does not cross to the other side of the road but tends to the victim and goes the extra mile to seek help and provide succour. The interesting part of this story being rather than the platitude of prayer a practical solution was offered by reason of the humanity and compassion of that person who as the story is told is of no faith.

A prayer dish for the hungry

The hard truth reflected in this man’s story is that your brother’s keeper might well be everywhere but in your religious community where prayer is supposed to put food on your table when hungry, provide a job when your brethren have the means of employing you – we are met with the greatest expression of mountain-moving faith but hardly the molehill of commensurate works.

Yes, we all find ourselves in that situation where the best of our humanity and compassion is expressed in good intentions whilst our expectations of others require actions and very few recognise the real needs of others.

Prosperity gathers for food and drink whilst lack gathers for the tangibility of prayer as the essential contribution to the kitty of your need. Prayer does feed, it clothes, pays the bills, gets the jobs and we are being offered a televangelist message of divine health, prosperity and all conquering defiance.

For winning or for testing

If you are not winning the prayer war, you are doing something wrong, meanwhile, we have heard the message of faith so many times we have gone from know how it works to being clueless as to what to expect anymore – are we about to have our prayers answered or still being tested?

Maybe there is greater honour in the good fight of faith than receiving the compassionate hand-out of help, assistance and practical expressions of faith through works.

Meanwhile, let us endure the water-boarding for in the passage of time, if time will pass much quicker we might just confess what brings the respite, the answers, the victory and all that waiting is forgotten for a testimony in the household of God.

Praise God!

Sources

[1] How unemployment has affected my relationship with God

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