Last week was rough, there's no other way to say it. Along with some of my own personal life hiccups, several of my closest friends were struggling in their lives as well. Each day, I woke up with almost a smirk asking "what do you have for me today" because each day seemed to bring it's own brand of hell, the week that just kept on coming! I told Keith, every time I get one fire put out a whole new fire come blazing my way!
I am the type of person who who loves my friends dearly. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves and I've chosen wisely. I'm blessed enough that they've chosen me back, so when one of them hurt I hurt too. I carry their pain as if it were my own, because they are an extension of me. I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and I thank God for them.
I have a friend dealing with health problems; cancer, surgery, etc. I have a friend facing the sickness and ultimate loss of a loved one. One of my closest friends lost one of the greatest men that anyone was blessed to know, I'm proud to say she and I were close enough that I was able to call him family too. There are a myriad of other issues friends are struggling with that are hurting my heart, but the fact is, I can't make it go away for any of them.
I have attempted comforting, I've tried to be supportive, and I've repeatedly said "I'll pray for you." Saying those words once seemed so generic, and I wonder how many people really, genuinely, mean it when they say it, or if they just say it when there's nothing else to say.
Sadly, I have to admit that I was once one of the people who would say it because there was nothing else I could say. I'm sure I rarely followed through, but it sounded good when I said it. It filled a gap when I couldn't find anything else that would work.
I once told my aunt, "it feels so empty that all I can do, is say 'I'll pray for you."
She replied, "but that's everything."
"What? It's nothing, when people are HURTING, all I can do is say 'I'll pray for you'." I replied.
"You're not doing it right then. If all you do is SAY you'll pray for someone, that's nothing. If you ACTUALLY spend time in PRAYER, that's everything. GOD IS OUR EVERYTHING and you are asking our creator to help those in need." She continued, "You are going before the Lord on someones behalf, and asking the Almighty to step in at a time when they need it the most."
I sat there quietly, thinking to myself how right she was and how wrong I'd been. She was right, I was doing it all wrong. I was using the words "I'll pray for you" as comfort, not as action. I made a promise to God, at that moment as I prayed with my aunt, that I would never turn such a meaningful promise into generic words of comfort again. I promised God and to my friends and family, that if I ever say "I'll pray for you" it will be a sincere and genuine promise.
So, last week as I saw some of my nearest and dearest hurting, I prayed for them. I didn't just say "I'll pray for you," in fact, I didn't even say it to one of them, but I DID it. I devoted very much prayer time to asking God to comfort, heal, and help these friends. I begged God to wrap his loving arms around each of them, and me too, and I begged him to show them his love.
My friends are still hurting, and my heart aches for them, but I have no doubt that God is with each of them and me too. God can weather the storm, and if we stick with him we can too. So, when I say "I'll pray for you," it's not because that's all I can do, it's because it's EVERYTHING.