Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hold On!

When I cry unto the Lord "No More Pain Can I Afford!" and I know that what is happening is real - I will pour out my complaint, 'cause my soul is growing faint, and I'm certain that the Lord knows how I feel!

Those may or may not be the exact words I learned back in 1976 at Central Lutheran's Camp Amnicon, but they are with me, deep in my soul, from that summer and from years after, when I sang them through some of my own dark days.

Then I cry unto the Lord: "Bring me from this prison ward! Those who persecute me want to take my soul! If you rescue me O Lord, I'll give thanks forevermore, for your mercy always seems to overflow."

At camp last week, and since, I've been plunged into the midst of pain. Not my own pain, but the pain of others that the Lord has put in my life. Some of the pain is caused by people. Other pain comes from illness and other dark forces that afflict body and soul.

In a hospital visit tonight the words of that old Negro Spiritual came back to me. Kneeling at the bedside, I sang those words and the chorus as we waited for the pain medication to work:

Hold on!
Hold on!
Soon God's love will surround you!
Hold on!

A few minutes later, the priceless soul in the hospital bed was giving thanks and expressing concern for others. But sometimes the pain doesn't give up so easily.

In the path where I must flee, there's a hidden trap for me, and I keep a watch on both sides of the road. There is none to rescue me, and no refuge do I see, for nobody cares what happens I am told.

Some suffering goes on and on. The devil, sinful people, our own sinful selves and sometimes even the world itself seems to conspire against us. And some would tell others there is no hope.

So, THERFORE, you and I, who have SOME moments of light in the darkness, and because we know the promise of God's wonderful love that WILL win in the end... You and I have the RESPONSIBILITY to stand with and sit beside those who are suffering and do all we can to help.

We can't just pretend it's all okay. For some, tonight, it's REALLY hard. For those who are suffering deeply it's almost impossible, sometimes, to believe light and love and hope are on their way.

So, those of us who have come to believe the promise of goodness and love and joy through the death and resurrection of Christ--we enter those places of pain WITH those who suffer, and, with them, watch and wait, and love and serve. And yes, look for signs of God's grace which WILL come.

And we don't go all alone. We keep one hand firmly in the grip of other brothers and sisters in Christ, getting strength and prayer and the rest that is needed by every warrior.

We can trust the promise of the resurrection! We can be bold in the hope that never dies. The time will come when we will joyfully sing:

Glory to the Father, Son, and the Spirit, three in One! I will offer praise again and again! As it was when life began, it WILL be as it was planned, in a world without end! Amen!

Until then, we hold on! Soon God's love will surround us!

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