Originally posted June 30, 2011, at Halstad Parish. Republished with permission of the author.
People often think that pastors have it all together when it comes to faith and spirituality. After all, we’re the experts, right?
Well, as they say around here, “Not so much.”
That’s why I like to tell this story on myself because it shows how we all need constant reminding and teaching. Also, with all the disastrous flooding going on, the 11 years I spent working for ELCA Disaster Response have been on my mind.
One night, I woke up around 2:00 in the morning. I had spent hours trying to fall asleep and I just couldn’t sleep anymore.
I was trying desperately to find help for a young family. When they came to me, it was a year and half after they had been evacuated from their flooded home by boat. Their circumstances were dire.
The husband had been disabled by an accident right after the flood, the young daughter had serious medical problems, and the mother was the caretaker. Between the husband’s hospitalization and other things, they had received no significant help for themselves and all they all lost — possessions, car and their home.
Because so much time had passed, response programs had closed.
They deserved help
Everyone I contacted, both governmental and volunteer, agreed that this family needed and deserved help in recovery but their early registration and paperwork had been lost, blocking them from the biggest sources of aid.
I had spent days and hours on the phone trying to be as creative as I could, talking to everyone I could think of on a state and national level.
That night as I sat on the edge of the bed in tears, I kept thinking “if there was only somebody I could talk to who was big enough or who had enough power to make a difference.”
I sat there like that for at least half an hour when suddenly it hit me. “Duh! I should pray.” So I prayed and finally slept well. And the people did get the help they needed.
One of the things I appreciate about the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is that they are not stories about perfect people.
In fact, the disciples are continually forgetting or not listening to or disagreeing with what Jesus is teaching them. Peter denies Jesus (John 18:25-27), Thomas doubts the resurrection (John 20:24-29), and the Canaanite woman argues theology with Jesus (Matthew 15:22-28). If even those who knew Jesus face-to-face had troubles, then there is hope for you and me.
Jesus promises that no matter how heavy our burdens or how big our problems, we do not have to carry them alone. Like me that night, we forget to come to Jesus in prayer, or we try to handle them by ourselves until we are so overwhelmed or in such a hard place that all we can do is ask for help.
Many times we are our own problem and stand in our own way.
But God is patient with us. God always listens and Jesus is always ready to give us peace. God is always bigger and stronger than any problem or evil that comes our way and we are never left alone.
Don’t wait until you find yourself sitting on the edge of the bed in tears. Let Jesus share your burdens. Read Matthew 11:28-30.
Find a link to Christine Iverson’s entry on the blog Halstad Parish at Lutheran Blogs.