You feel for people who are doing it tough. I think particularly of refugees. And I’m not persuaded at all that using other names or terminology to describe them helps anyone since if someone claims refuge or sanctuary from us then that is how we are to respond while we ascertain identity and what to do next. However I also feel pummelled by the volume of people doing it tough. Of course it is infinitely worse for those people talking to me about their tough times. Marriage breakdown. Cancer. Cancer early stages. Cancer very serious. Disabled people trying to receive care and support. Organisations and low numbers. Fears for the future. People in hospital (good experience) and people in hospital (bad experience). Persecution. Fear. A lot of fear and anxiety. I would love to have a magic wand. Truly. I’m not sure I’d use it wisely or well in the big scheme of things – there is always the issue of unintended consequences – espe-cially with sinners. But I’d like to think I could help … a little if I had a magic wand.
What I can do is pray. (Yes, I could always pray more.) Intercession – bringing others before God in prayer – like parents and friends brought those in need to Jesus or went to Jesus on their behalf – is about bringing anyone to God and asking God to help. Yes, I know this isn’t to absolve me of doing what I can but often I can’t see how I can do anything but pray. In praying I trust God, who is good, to help. What I regard as unanswered prayer or when things don’t turn out as I’ve prayed can challenge me and I could give up (people do). I have a choice of course. Why choose to continue praying or believing for that matter? Because there is a cross and an empty tomb in my life’s story that declares that Jesus reveals God to me and that ‘doing it tough’ is part of this life but we are never alone. And because he has joined me to himself in Baptism and feeds me at Holy Communion and speaks to me through his Word, I can choose to follow Jesus – always imperfectly – and thus try to help those I meet who are do-ing it tough – and if nothing else, I can keep praying.
It struck me this week as I considered Jesus’ transfiguration that in Luke’s account, Jesus is praying when he is transfigured. (That must have been some prayer!) My mind quickly ran through Luke … Jesus was praying at his baptism when the heavens opened. He prayed all night before selecting the twelve apostles. The disciples saw his praying and asked him to teach them and Jesus taught them (and us) the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught his followers to pray for those who abuse them and to be persistent in prayer. He prayed before his arrest in the garden. He prayed from the cross in the darkness. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to eaves-drop on Jesus and his prayers but it seems that he didn’t always get what he wanted either but left things in God’s hands – trusted God his Father – not to abandon him. (And considering on the cross Jesus was forsaken, we can’t imagine – well I can’t – the turmoil and suffering Jesus experienced and yet he still prayed.) This is the Jesus whom we meet today being transfigured. He is close to God, intimate, and he prayed and trusted God.
The cross isn’t a magic wand to wave in front of people but it is a place I might go in my prayers when people are doing it tough and things are not getting better it seems. When things are tough
we want help. The cross tells me that God has helped us all and that he does help. So we can pray and keep praying – even in the darkness – and, like Jesus, trust God to help. And when God directs us to roll up our sleeves we can do that too. — GS