Last night I found a “prayer” card on the kitchen table where my father sits. It was familiar to me. Dad received it several days after his cervical fusion surgery over six years ago when the pain he was suffering seemed unbearable. I sat in the hospital room with him when the volunteer came and offered him the card. My reading it out loud helped us both and my mom to deal with the despair of the moment and the wondering if my father would recover from this surgery.
On this prayer card, which is worn around the edges from Dad holding it and rereading what’s on the back, is a rendering of Jesus hugging a man. Only the back of the man is visible, but there is Jesus’ kind, loving face in full view.
On the back of the card is not really a prayer, but an admonition entitled “Peace,” which can be turned into a prayer:
“Do not look forward to
What might happen tomorrow;
The same everlasting Father
Who cares for you today
Will take care of you
Tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you
Or He will give you
Unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and
Put aside all anxious thoughts
As I read the words once again yesterday evening, once more they were just what I needed. Lately I fought a fresh battle with blame, shame, self-pity, and resentment in regard to circumstances I could not control. Just as I had wondered if my father would ever recover, I had been wondering if other loved ones would ever “recover.” Would they make it through this time of excruciating emotional pain which caused me to hurt as well? Would they ever cry out to the Lord as their rescuer and source of peace?
Just a few days before I had rewritten an article about peace and sent it out. The three points I brought out about maintaining peace came back to mind. They were: Focus on the Lord, Make Peace with the Past, and Pray for Peace. I saw how often I did the opposite. I focused on problems, I got trapped in regret and resentments connected to the past, and I failed to pray.
Philippians 4:6-7 came to mind once more—for the thousandth time in connection to these ongoing difficult circumstances. And once again I knew that going to God was the key to receiving peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The song, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” which I had sung not long ago came to mind as well. I knew that just as I had been failing to pay attention to the instructions on that card my father kept to help him through hard days of ongoing pain, I failed to fully embrace the words of that old hymn written by Joseph M. Scriven way back in 1855.
“Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
So I did pray lifting up my burdens to the Lord, and what followed was His peace, the way it always has. I want problems solved, progress made, and at times perfection. But He gives peace. Lord, I praise You for Your peace. Let me bask in it and in Your presence. Let that be enough.
“What A Friend We Have in Jesus” sung by Kathryn Scott (with some added words)
To listen to the inspiring story behind “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” click below.