I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away,
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, Amen and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you”
As Your mercy falls I raise my hands
And praise the God who gives
And takes away…
I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
[Opening Lyrics to “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns]
(Bernie Herms, Mark Hall. Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music)
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son, Amen.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
I lift my eyes onto the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
PRAYER FOCUS: Our Hurting World
The world is in turmoil, Christian.
The political situation between Russia and Ukraine is tense and deteriorating; Western leaders seem unwilling and/or unable to intervene and avert a military collision. Church leaders on both sides pray for peace. Car bombs shatter whole neighborhoods in Baghdad as sectarian strife rends Iraq. Iraqi Christians continue to flee their homeland. The body count rises in Syria as civil war consumes its citizens, including Assyrian Christians. Christians displaced by severe violence in South Sudan are in desperate need. As we write this, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 is missing with its 239 passengers and crew; although little else is known at this point, the news of their fate is expected to be grim.
Our hearts are broken for our brothers and sisters in all these places. We echo the cry of their hearts, “Where is our help?”
In this week’s Psalm the Lord promises to be there whenever His children need help. He never slumbers and He never sleeps. He will watch over His children forever. In this week’s passage from John, Jesus says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). It’s amazing. And it’s comforting.
Perhaps you, too, have asked, as David did, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” Or more directly, “Who am I, Lord, that You notice me?” (Psalm 8:4).
In this week’s Lectionary Prayer we affirm it is God’s glory always to have mercy. This is also amazing and comforting.
Let’s steer off-Lectionary for a moment, over to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5:
Three very different people cry out for help: The demon-possessed man at Gerasenes, Jairus the synagogue leader, and the woman with the issue of blood who touched Jesus’ cloak. Who were they, and why were they special enough to receive personal help from the Son of the Living God?
Mark first introduces the demoniac, who upon seeing Jesus on the shore, immediately ran to Him and pleaded for help. Jesus commanded the evil spirits into a large herd of pigs, healed the man, and then sent him home to his family with a powerful testimony of deliverance and redemption.
Next Mark relates the story of Jairus, the synagogue leader who came to Jesus seeking a miracle of healing to save his dying daughter. “My little girl is dying. Please come and put your hands her so that she will be healed and live.” And so Jesus went and healed her, leaving Jairus’ family with a powerful testimony of healing and restoration.
On the way to Jairus’ house, a large crowd pressed in on Jesus. One of them was a desperate person seeking help—a woman who had been bleeding and suffering for twelve years. Struggling through the crowds, she touched the hem of the Lord’s cloak. Instantly her bleeding stopped and she realized she was healed. Jesus spun around and asked who had touched his clothes? The woman, knowing she was caught, fell at his feet. Jesus didn’t treat her as an outcast or as a thief, but rather, He spoke words of grace, as to His beloved. “Daughter, your faith has healed you—go in peace.”
Consider these three recipients of grace: a powerful yet enslaved and tormented man, an influential community leader, a destitute woman with a disease that rendered her unclean and a social outcast. Their approach to Jesus is the same: 1) They realized their utter desperation, 2) They purposefully sought out the presence of Jesus the Son of God, believing, and, 3) They cried out for help that only He can give.
Back to the Lectionary: Where does our help come from? The same place theirs did—the loving grace of Jesus Christ. Have we forgotten that? If so, let us return with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace the unchangeable Truth we pray for this week.
In this second week of Lent, faithful Christians around the world will prepare themselves to acknowledge the astonishing, agonizing, loving sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. Through the disciplines of prayer, fasting, self-denial, and acts of service, we bow to our Lord and King. We turn our eyes away from the lesser things of this world and focus on the higher things of the world to come. We acknowledge our desperation, we open ourselves to His mercy, and we plead for help.
It’s Monday Morning. Outside your window there’s a world of hurting people, lifting their eyes to the hills, asking for help. This week, will you pray for them?