Wednesday, July 11, 2018

answered prayers

I was talking to a man recently. Let's call him Corky (because that's the name he asked me to use for this). Corky is in a bad way. He suffers from a variety of various fairly serious health problems, affecting not only his quality of life but also his mobility and therefore his independence. And, to add suffering to suffering, he's recently been diagnosed with cancer. Corky is a few years younger than I am. Will he make it to my age? Only God knows.

'A lot of prayers have been said for me,' he told me. 'I've said a lot myself. But they don't seem to be working.'

What he means by this, of course, is that he has not been healed from the diseases that afflict him. And his disappointment is understandable. People of faith know that God can heal our bodies of anything. We read of it in the Bible all the time. When Jesus walked the earth all people had to do was touch the hem of his garment to be cured. And cured they were in their droves. So why them and not us? And why not Corky?

To make matters worse, Corky seems like a genuinely good bloke. He wakes up every morning and gives thanks to God for another day, for the blessing of being able to get up and get dressed and put on his shoes. Before he even gets out of bed he says a prayer, dedicating that day and the remainder of his life to God. When he was well he worked for a charity, helping raise money to help needy children in Africa. His work involved a lot of travelling and meeting people. And a lot of them found a sympathetic ear in Corky for their troubles.

'I suppose they found it easier to talk to a stranger,' he said. 'Sometimes they'd be crying before I left. I'd be crying myself.'

So, a man of faith. A man who has done some good in the world. What could I say to a man like him about his suffering? Only what I say to all who think their prayers go unanswered when they aren't healed – that there's more than one kind of healing. There's physical; but there's also spiritual. The first is always temporary. In the end we all die. But the second has the potential to be eternal if it helps get us right with God. After all, which is more important: relief from the sufferings of this life, however bad they may seem? Or eternal life in the next with the one who created us? The answer, I think, is obvious. It was to Corky, at least.

'Better if we're healed in here,' he said, touching his chest, 'in our souls.'

Afterwards I stopped at a church I was passing and lit a candle for him. I said a prayer for his healing also. I didn't specify which kind. That I left in the hands of God. 

this article appears in today's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

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