Tag Archives: Prayer

Facebook, peer pressure, cold water, and what to do

It happened.

I knew it would, and I had been trying to figure out how to respond to it when it did, but, when it actually happened, I still didn’t have a clue.

See, there’s this thing, going around on Facebook where people dump water over their heads in support of a horrible degenerative disease that goes by the initials ALS, and since over half my Facebook friends are kids, well, I was gonna get nominated to dump ice over my head at some point, sooner or later.

But see, I’m in this thoughtful season of life, when I want to think about everything before I do it.  So, I wanted to know where I actually stood on this “challenge” thing before I simply lemming-style dumped five gallons of ice on me – in public (well, filmed, and then posted on Facebook, so the modern form of public).  I know, I know, I’m probably over-thinking it.  Or, as my brother would affectionately say, I’m “femaling it up”.

But I didn’t want to just mindlessly dump water over my head.  And no, it’s not because it’s cold.

See, I want my kids to think through something before they do it.  And if I want that from them, then I need to model it.

And I’m not really sure of the best response.  See, ALS is a degenerative disease where you lose control of everything.  And that’s horrible.  And if pouring a bucket of ice over my head will help someone research it and come up with a cure – great.  Pour five buckets over my head.  But see, pouring a bucket over my head means that I’m not giving money to fund that person to go find that cure.  So, I should give money.  Which I’d do if I had any (being a student will take all the money you’ve got – and then some).  But even then, even still, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.  Because, see, if I simply give money, than I can be done.  I don’t have to think about it anymore.  I can say I did my part and go dive back into school papers, or hiking in the mountains, or drinking coffee with one of my teens.

But that’s not really what we’re called to do as Christians.  We’re called to sit with each other in our pain.  We are called to help someone out – to take care of them – no matter what.  To stay there, where they are.  Not to throw money at them and then walk away.  Not to say, “Hey, look how much I care; I’m pouring water over my head” and then walk away.  I’m called to befriend those in pain, those who are uncomfortable, those who will ask much of me because they can’t give anything back.

So, how do I do that?  I don’t know anyone with ALS.  Do I go find someone who has ALS?  Do I just accept that God hasn’t put anyone in my life with ALS and focus on the people He has put in my life – and their needs?

Truth is – I don’t know.  I could dump a bucket of water over my head in solidarity or something, sure.  But…doesn’t that just bring more attention to me than to the thousands suffering?  I mean somewhere the video label will say ALS on it, and so everyone will know I care…but do I, really?

The only answer that comes to mind, as I wrestle with this, is one that feels trite because it has been a Christian cop-out so often – prayer.

I don’t know anyone with ALS; I don’t have anything to give; I don’t really believe pouring a bucket of watery frigidness will do any good, so what do I have?

I have God.  I have prayer.  And, in the long run, assuming I actually pray and ask God to do a work – in my heart at the very least – that might be the most powerful thing I could do.

Note – if I felt God was calling me to do something about ALS specifically, this would be different.  Maybe I’ll talk about that next week.

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Dear Jesus, Can I have a pretty pony?

I read an article the other day about Christian persecution in the Middle East.  The stories presented were rather horrific.  I’m not going to describe the stomach-wrenching horror I read, just know that if I didn’t know better, and the language was slightly less-modern, I would have guessed that what was being described was in pre-Constantine Rome, when Christians were fed to lions or crucified, or used as human lanterns in gardens.  Now, I don’t know how trustworthy the site was, and it could be that everything was greatly exaggerated.  Or it could be absolutely, God’s-honest truth.  Human cruelty never fails to surprise me; I would rather believe that people are really good at heart, or that only the incredibly sick and twisted do awful things.  But that’s not really true. We’re all capable of atrocities; we just don’t want to recognize that fact (and we don’t have to face it in our comfy Western world, because it’s easy to keep the awfulness in our souls hidden here ).  But whether nor not this particular article was telling the whole, unbiased, untainted truth about the persecution of Christians is not really the point.

The point is not even that it could be. But the point is somewhere along the lines of if it IS true, and if Christians in places throughout the world are being brutalized (which we know they are), than where does that leave me?  I have a pretty comfy, not-at-all-physically-persecuted life.  In fact, I would call my life cushy.

So what if?  What if our places were reversed, and suddenly I lived in a place that mocked and despised my faith?  What if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to renounce my faith in Jesus, or die, would I do it?   I like to think that I would stick to my faith, that I would have that kind of courage.  And, honestly, I’d take a gun to my head any day over most of the brutality I read about.  A bullet to the head is usually pretty short and quick.  But some of what I read left Christians suffering for a long, long time.  So, what about then?   Would I be tortured for my faith?  I hope so.  I hope I wouldn’t rationalize myself out of it.  But I don’t know.  I’m not sure I ever will know, until faced with it.  It is a good reason to know why I believe what I believe…and to realize that in a moment like that, rational, scientific arguments aren’t going to do anything to convince me.  It’ll be my life experiences and the stories I’ve heard that might help me look my persecutor in the eyes and say, “I can’t.  My God has done too much for me.  I believe in Him, you can’t change that.  Do what you want with this body.”

And so, the point – I think really, the biggest question for me, right now, in my cushy life, is when was the last time I prayed for my Christian brothers and sisters who are being tortured for their faith?  Or for the girls who were recently kidnapped?  Or for any of the sex trafficking victims?  When was the last time I prayed for something that wasn’t related to myself, my friends, or even someone I knew?  When was the last time I took the time to even allow the knowledge of the suffering of others to soak into my understanding a little bit?  When was the last time I let that knowledge impact my self-focused, first-world-problemed life?  To my shame, I can’t remember.
I have been so wrapped up in my cushy-comfy life, that I forget about the world of pain and discomfort and want out there.  And I forget to pray for my brothers and sisters whose trials are far worse than anything I can imagine.  I forgot to pray for my fellow humans who need Jesus, who survive on less than a bowl of rice a day, or who don’t have water to drink.

I am so comfortable I forget.  And really, it’s not really a subject I like to think about, you know?  It’s uncomfortable.  Very uncomfortable.  But it is something I should be doing.   It is a place of discomfort and pain that I NEED to enter into.  It is the very least I can do for my brothers and sisters, for my fellow humans.  I might never be given the privilege to share in their suffering, but I can pray for them in theirs.

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