I’ve come to dread the afternoons. It’s in the afternoons and evenings when bad news seems to land in my news feed: New cases of COVID-19 nearby. The stay-at-home order extended. The restaurant recently closed. John Prine died.
I try to stop each time to pray for those affected. If only for a moment, long enough to inhale, and say, “Please, God…” once again.
Prayer is our basic response to trust in God. In prayer, we acknowledge our limitations in the light of God’s limitless power, goodness, and love. On our knees (or wherever we’re praying), we confess, “I can’t do this, God, but You can. Please, please, please.”
Bodies fail us, relationships come to an end, bank accounts run negative, anxiety overwhelms, and yet still God’s promise stands. He sees us, He knows us, He cares for us.
Amedeo Capetti is a physician in Milan, Italy. Milan has been the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Italy for months. In a letter to the editor of his local newspaper on April 1, he described that challenge and necessity of faith in such a time and place. Along with the virus, he writes, prayer is contagious, too.
“Yesterday a woman from Crema phoned me to get news about her grandmother who is hospitalized and in serious condition at the Sacco. She told me of her other grandmother, who died of COVID, and of her mother, who is in intensive care in Crema, and then she said, ‘You see, doctor, at the beginning I was praying, but now I’ve stopped.’ I answered, ‘I understand, ma’am. Do not worry. I will be the one praying for her.’ When she heard this, she was moved and said, ‘No, doctor, if you are going to pray, I’ll do it as well. Let’s pray together for my mother.’” https://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/prayer/grateful-for-each-breath
Physicians know better than any of us the limitations of human power. It’s only fitting that Dr. Capetti should be a teacher of prayer.
It was another teacher of prayer, Meister Eckhart, all the way back in the 13th century, who wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
He’s right. You see, on the other side of prayers beginning, “Please, please, please,” are prayers beginning, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
For all the bad news, there’s been good news too: The grandfather breathing again on his own without a ventilator. The unexpected kindness of a neighbor. (A package of toilet paper on the shelf when we need it!) The resilience of us all, moving forward, loving still, and carrying one another through the hard days.
And behind all the news–good and bad–is the great good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ who promises to save and restore us in faith.
Maybe, we can all stop when we hear the good news and exhale, just long enough to say, “Thank You, God”? I hope so. I pray so. “Please God…thank You, God.”
And the day goes on.