A Week In Prayer
This week has been a hard one to take. I find myself at random times of the day trying to hold back tears during a worship song, a movie trailer, or mundane moments with my children. This week began with a sermon on prayer. This was a sermon I had not planned to preach until the final hours of preparation. It was a sermon I wished not to preach because I knew that I fail miserably in prayer. I don't pray enough. I am not faithful enough. I am not trusting enough and this is why I have not prayed as God has instructed me to pray - without ceasing. But I preached the sermon anyway - and something happened. Conviction. Confession. Repentance. Not just in my own life, but in many of the people's lives of Stone's Throw Church. 

Monday, I was finishing work on my Jeep during my day off when I received a call from Stephen. I had just talked with Stephen and Tierra over the weekend while gathered with the rest of the church. Our church is young and there are lots of babies. There are babies everywhere and new ones being born it seems almost every couple of weeks. Tierra and Stephen were one of those couples this past weekend. Tierra looked like she could go into labor at any moment and she seemed like she couldn't be any happier. I spoke with them and one of the last things I said to them was, "Take lots of pictures!"  Monday was a different conversation. When I answered the phone and Stephen began to speak I knew that their lives had changed. When he told me that their son had died my heart cried out for them. 

My wife and I went to the hospital and had the honor and blessing of being there and standing on holy ground with Stephen and Tierra and their family as we held their son and prayed over him. In those moments, as Christ did in the cross, we commended their infant son's spirit into heaven. This is a hard one to take. We just wept before God. That is all one can do. We wept the way Jesus wept before Lazarus. We cried the way David cried over his infant son. We looked for answers the way the Psalmist looked for answers in the valley of the shadow of death. And we prayed. 

That evening, we asked the church and extended family of churches to pray for the Milburns. As a pastor, I get to hear all of the stories of blessing from various corners of the church. I get to hear about the opportunities people have had to share Jesus. I have heard the questions and the confusion. I have heard how the sermon this past week had prepared the church to be a church that prays. Do you remember the main idea from the sermon this past week? Prayerful people will know God and know Him deeply. If this week has shown me anything it is that I need to know God and I need to know him deeply - I need to pray. 

I don't have the answers for why we found ourselves praying for hope in a room where we should have been celebrating new life this past Monday. I don't know why God has allowed this to happen. In fact, no one can explain this - not on this side of heaven. When we don't know why, or we don't understand God, we must rely on what we do know about God. He is loving, faithful, just, righteous, powerful, sovereign, and merciful. He has a plan for our greatest joy and he is making all things new. We live in the already and the not yet. God has already sealed our victory, but we suffer from the effects of a sin-soaked world because Jesus has not yet made a new heaven and earth. But he will. Oh yes, in fact, he is doing it right now. 

In the meantime, we must be a prayerful people. We must be watchful. We must be hopeful. We must be faithful. We must grieve, but as those who have hope. We do not grieve the way this broken and crappy world grieves. We grieve as those who have ultimate victory in Jesus. 

There is one thing that is for sure. My friends will see and hold their baby again. How do I know this? How can I be so sure? Because Jesus has promised to wipe away every last one of their tears. Because Jesus has said that heaven belongs to those such as their son. Because Jesus has promised to make all things new. But why? Why should I trust Jesus in these moments? Because Jesus has proven His Word through his resurrection. And you know what? That resurrection is ours. 

Be prayerful. Be watchful. Be faithful. Grieve. But grieve with hope. 
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