Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. Psalm 88:1-2.
If you make a habit of speaking to those who choose not to follow The Teacher, it’s not long before you will hear the rationalisation that faith is just a crutch for the weak. I’m not sure how true that is, or how often that is the primary motivator of those who choose to have faith. I suspect it is less often than the accusers might suggest. What I do know is that my faith is not based upon that, however my God is a crutch when I am weak.
It is Thursday 21st July 2016 and I sit here in a familiar space. I am sat with my mother in a hospital ward with my father in a hospital bed nearing the end of his life. Forty years ago as a young boy I was sat in the same place, scared and with the weight of the world upon my shoulders. My dad was going to die and as the eldest I was the head of the family. No faith, no crutch, I remember crying out to a god, any god in a superstitious panic fuelled prayer. There was no comfort in that prayer only desperation and angst. Whether that prayer was heard or not, I have no idea, but he did not die. Now a grown man with a family of his own, I sit here in that same place. Once again I have no power over the situation, I am at the end of what I can do, at the end of me. Now I pray to my God, my Leader, my Saviour, my Comforter.
Psalm 88 came up in my Bible reading this morning as I sat beside my father. Was this reading specifically for me? Probably not, I follow the same pattern of readings as many others. However it was plucked from a library of books in which there are many reminders for those in need to turn towards their God in their time of need. Tomorrow there will be another reminder, and the next day and the next day. My Comforter knows there are times when we are all weak. Forty years after a scared young lad cried out to an unknown god for a crutch, I cry out to known God for a crutch. And there is peace. He is still going to die, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and that is OK. God could step in, but He is not going to, at least not in the way we might desire. Forty years however has brought more than just a change in age. Now I know my Father hears my prayer for my father, and that brings me comfort in my weakness.
I’m OK with needing a crutch right now.
Postscript: Dad died at 23:30 Thursday 21st July 2016.
I was privileged to hold his hand and say prayers as he went to meet his Father God.