I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers.
He listens to me every time I call to him.
Sometimes I am thankful for tears. They provide a release just when you feel like you are about to burst. Today was one of those days. A day when I was so full of sadness, and anger, and worry, and a million other emotions, that I was almost grateful for the release. This day had been packed with gloomy conversations, heart-breaking news, and disappointing setbacks. I was left feeling helpless, searching for a course of action that I could take. My decision was to cry.
The day had started with a quick detour to the post office on my way to school. I was mailing a card to a dear friend in the middle of a battle with breast cancer. As I dropped the card into the slot, I thought about how useless the card seemed. How much help would this provide as my friend was hooked up to yet another IV? I knew that it was not what she needed, but I didn’t know how else to help.
The clouds blocked the sun during my afternoon recess duty, and I thought about what a dreary day it seemed to be. I walked across the woodchips to talk with my teaching partner. I asked about her 3-year old daughter that had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year earlier. I cringed as she talked about how low her numbers had been lately, and how rapidly they sometimes fell. I could hear the worry in her voice, and I wanted so badly to say something helpful. But instead, I just listened and thought about how little I knew about this disease.
As my students were loading their backpacks to get ready to leave for the day, I glanced at my phone and saw a message that had been sent from a friend at church. A member of our congregation had passed away earlier in the day. She was young and healthy and had children the same ages as mine. She had often posted Bible verses and positive messages on Facebook that I had always enjoyed reading. Just days ago she had posted pictures of her daughter at prom. I thought about her husband and kids and wondered what I could do to help them. Maybe I could make a meal or send a memorial. Maybe I would get another message from the church asking me to help with something specific. I felt like I had to do something, but couldn’t seem to focus enough to decide.
After preparing for the next day’s lessons, I began my commute home. I pulled into the driveway about the same time as my teenage daughter. She was just getting home from practice and one look at the expression on her face told me that things had not gone well. As we walked into the house together, she told me that she had lost her spot on the team. A poor performance a few days earlier had caused the coaches to make a change. I could see the tears in her eyes beginning to build and I tried desperately to somehow catalog this occurrence in with the other events of the day that were spinning around in my mind. Not a loss of health, not a loss of life, but, still, a loss. How could I help her? I grabbed my computer and opened my email. I listed the names of the coaches on the ‘TO’ line and begin to type. I poured all of my emotions from the day into the message. But before I could hit ‘SEND’, my daughter’s hand reached around from behind me and gently shut my laptop. She told me that she would talk to the coaches the next day and she assured me that she didn’t need my help this time. She was old enough to help herself.
Later that evening when I felt like I had let enough tears fall, and I was crawling into bed with my one-year Bible, my daily devotional and my reading glasses, I realized that I had overlooked a pretty significant activity that would have helped with my feelings of helplessness—maybe even more than crying. I could pray.
So I folded my hands and began to do just that. I prayed for wise doctors, powerful chemo, and strength for my friend as she battles cancer. I prayed for a cure for that horrible disease that is turning that beautiful little girl’s life into chaos. I prayed for comfort and peace to be given to the family that had lost their wife and mother. And I prayed for patience, perseverance and perspective for my teenage daughter. I prayed because I knew that even though I experience feelings of helplessness on days like this, God does not. And I was grateful for the release.