By Lisa Huddleston
He was hurting. I could see it in his tired face all morning long. At break we found ourselves alone in the kitchen of the Adult Learning Center, and he said he was tired of people on Facebook talking about religion. He said everyone could believe whatever they wanted to, and, yeah, he believed there was a God and everything, but he knew God didn’t answer prayers cause he prayed for his sick dad to get better and that sure didn’t happen and he wasn’t getting any sleep because his new baby was keeping him and his girlfriend up all night and his brother was mad at him for leaving his dad and he was tired.
Ugh. I tried to respond. I told him how sorry I was and said “God’s timing is not ours” and … yeah. It felt and still feels like a major fail.
I mean I knew all the appropriate responses, but as I ran through them in my head, none seemed as though it would make any difference in this young man’s life. Most sounded preachy and judgmental and so I just decided to show compassion for him and his difficult life and keep my over-educated mouth unapologetically shut. (Pun intended.)
I wanted to cry, to shake, to hold, and to preach. I wanted to point out all the choices that were being made that contributed to the pain rather than eased it. I wanted to scream truth into the blatant ignorance of human sin. But I held my tongue—maybe in fear of my own inadequacies, maybe because of my own sin, maybe because my faith just wasn’t strong enough or even maybe because that was the best choice. I honestly don’t know.
But I also have a sick father and hurting friends and relationships that are difficult. In many ways, I completely understand and often even share his doubts. But I do believe—not just in the existence of a god but in the God who hears my cries for help, gathers my tears, and yes, answers my prayers even when I cannot point to proofs that will convince anyone else, especially someone whose life is in chaos and with whom I have only a peripheral relationship.
And because I believe, I pray.
Heavenly Father, reveal your heart of love to this struggling son and young father. Draw him to your side and breathe your faith into his hard, breathless life. And, if you choose to, use me as an instrument of your peace. Amen.