Have you ever been in a situation when you just wished for a miracle to help you through your time of doubt? I think we all want miracles. We all desire to have our lives miraculously made just a little easier to deal with from time to time. We want to experience our prayers being answered. When I was growing up, and still occasionally, when I have a problem, a great source of stress or question, my mother has become famous for saying “God will provide. Just pray and if it is meant to happen then God will provide for it. Just trust in the will of the Lord”.
Well, I will be the first one to say that those words are not as comforting as the person sharing them would hope them to be. I derive little comfort from people reminding me to trust in the plans of God. It is true that God does have a plan and we should all be trusting in his presence but sometimes we just need to gripe and have someone to be compassionate to our struggles. When I was in college and seminary, both my mother and I struggled with this notion that God will provide but in sometimes very different ways. For me it centered on being able to afford to put myself through college and grad school. But for my mother hers was a little more personal, a little more difficult.
Now growing up, my brothers and I were not very close to my maternal grandmother. We lived in my father’s family community and spent more time with the Standishes than with the Savitskis. My mother was close to her mother but not where she spent every day speaking to her. Well, in 2001 my aunt that my grandmother lived with moved from Colchester CT to Midland VA. My grandmother refused to leave the town she was born and raised in and raised her own family in. But she needed somewhere to live. So my parents took her into their home. A house that was already pretty full as it was.
My parents still had two of their three children living at home, two cats and a dog. Now they were adding my grandmother to that list and little did they know that she came with a whole list of health complications that needed to be monitored and watched. Shortly after moving in we discovered that she was battling dementia, needed hip surgery and her rotator cuff replaced. She battled with constant dehydration and she was fiercely independent and secretive. Very quickly my mother’s relationship with her mother changed from a mother daughter relationship to a caretaker one.
For years, as the challenges became tougher, my mother began to question why God was giving her this challenge. Why did she have to be the one to deal with this while her six sisters and one brother could come visit and go home at the end of the day? She didn’t understand what God’s plan was and often yearned for that miracle that could make her struggles go away and restore that relationship she once had with her mother. And my aunts would remind her that God will provide. And it very rarely brought comfort. And at times brought back what she called her Catholic guilt for not trusting where God was taking her in life and recognizing the gift that she had been given.
But God provided for her and our family in those years. It just was not fully understood or recognized in the moment. It wasn’t an immediate relief but one that is recognized only in retrospect. Our family became closer and we all got the opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with a person we all had never truly known before she came to live with us. God taught us just how strong we were and taught us what it truly meant to love another person and how to care for another person in a way that we had never done before.
God does provide and it is a reminder we have for those times when we struggle to see his work in our lives. When Jesus was preaching and teaching the masses of people from this morning he had compassion for their struggles and healed many people brought to him so that others might look on and begin to develop their faith and come to an understanding of God’s work in the world. Sometimes even when we are struggling we still need to pray. We need to pray for some clarity and understanding when we feel as if we are struggling with our faiths.
We need to ask God not for a miracle: to have our loved cured of the dementia or whatever ailment or struggle they might be experiencing or just to make our lives easier. But we need to ask God to give us strength, to teach us the depth of love, to enact his miracle inside of us so we can better provide for others in their life struggles and battles. We need to ask God to make our faith more dynamic, a faith that can pull us through all the battles of this life we live together.
Jesus speaks to us today from the words of our scriptures when he says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Jesus invites us to come to him with our struggles, our fears, and our cares. He invites to seek him out with our prayers and needs in life and to allow for him to have the opportunity to provide for our needs. He may determine better what those needs might be and he might heal the wounds that lay much deeper than those that appear to be on the surface but he will provide the knowledge, the comfort, the care and the strength that we need for all the struggles of this life. It is our challenge going forward to seek him out when we feel the most lost, when we feel like sheep without a shepherd and to allow him to lead us forward and to create something new in us. The only question we are left with is are we ready to follow Jesus to find solace, wholeness, comfort, and rest that only he can provide us in life?
(Based on Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56)