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What to Say When Things are Impossible {On Prayer}

December 7, 2013

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Honestly, this is a difficult post to write.  But I am learning that the more I pour out my heart and make an honest confession, the more freedom I have, and the more help I can hopefully offer to others.

What do you say to someone who is in an impossible situation?  Who is hurting beyond your own comprehension or experience?  Who has such a complicated mess, dealing with the repercussions of someone else’s irresponsibility?  How do you offer comfort, help, and healing to someone who is overwhelmed beyond measure?

I am in this situation at present.  With someone I love very much.  I want to offer to carry her load, but her load is the weight of the world.  A pallet of bricks.  The situation is insurmountable, so completely frustrating that I just want to pull my hair out, scream, kick the wall, and cry until I am hoarse.  I can do all that, yes.  But her situation remains the same.  The very real difficulties, fears, exhaustion, and hopelessness she faces every moment of every day remain.  No matter how much I tell her that God loves her.  No matter how much I counsel.  No matter how much I tell her that she needs help, support, counseling, strong arms to hold on to.  In fact, saying any of those things feels like an insult.  It is the easy Christian answer.  You know what people hate more than anything?  The easy Christian answer. Would it help if I was physically closer?  If I lived nearer?  Probably not.  It might just exasperate the situation.

Think of the times when you have been at your lowest.  Dealing with death, with loss, with sickness, with very real pain.  People try to placate you with “God is just teaching you a lesson.”  They mean well when they say “God works everything for the good”, but that feels more like a slap in the face.  You know what it sounds like?  It is someone hugging you saying “I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just repeat some cliche Bible verse and hope it gets the job done”.

So, the question remains.  What do you do, what do you say in impossible situations?  Where preaching is trite and quoting Bible verses that are meant for comfort are like putting salt in the wound.  Adding insult to injury.  Where every time the phone rings, you expect that the worst has finally happened?  Does listening offer any help?  Do I say nothing?  Do I say something?  Do I hold her, cry with her, scream at the heavens with her?  At the end of the day, when I hang up the phone, she returns to her personal hell, and I go to my quiet apartment where no one disturbs my sleep.

My only answer: pray.  My heart is beyond heavy.  I cannot carry this load.  I cannot even think about the impossibility of her hurt, her anger, her load of bricks without feeling like I might sink into the earth myself.  I feel guilty that I am so helpless.  I feel angry that I can do absolutely nothing to fix the situation.  I feel like a horrible person for enjoying life while she suffers.  I feel even worse that I am going to the ends of the earth and helping other people, yet I can do nothing practical to help her.  So what then?

Pray.

I don’t even have to say it to her.  Just pray.

Here is my one comfort, the one thing that I have returned to over and over and over again throughout the years.

“The Lord of Hosts is with you, the God of Jacob is your refuge.”  Psalm 46:11

When things are impossibly heavy, when I cannot pull myself off the floor or do anything useful, I force myself to think these words.  Who is the Lord of Hosts?  He is God for Whom NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE.  He is the Living God, true, real, alive.  The Solid Rock, the only One that remains when everything else in this world goes to hell.  Who is the God of Jacob?  You know who He is?  Think of who Jacob was.  He was a liar.  He was a cheat.  He and his brother hated each other.  Their parents chose favorites.  He ran away.  He wrestled with God.  God redeemed him and changed his name, his life forever, and all of history.  So what comfort comes from praying to the God of Jacob? He is the God of messed up families.  He is the Great Redeemer, the GREAT FIXER.

As I write this, my heart is broken.  My heart is broken for this woman I love very much.  My heart is broken over the family that is hurting beyond measure.  My heart hurts because I so want to pick up the pieces and glue them back together again.  I weep because people are wounded and broken beyond repair by the someone else’s sin.  Someone else’s selfishness and hatefulness.  Others bear that cost, although they do not deserve any ounce of it.

So I do the only thing I can.  Oh Lord of Hosts, God-for-whom-nothing-is-impossible, God of Jacob, God who can fix even the most twisted, broken, and abusive families, oh Great Fixer, intervene.  Do something.

And to the woman for whom I wrote this: I love you very much.  I am proud of you for holding on when so many would have let go long ago.  I pray for you, a lot.

As a musician, I have always said my first language is that of song.  Here is a song that I have played hundreds of times, that somehow offers even a tiny bit of comfort when the only thing to do is pray.  You can chastise me all you want, but I find that there are profound truths in some songs where the original intention might not have been so deep.  Therefore, a Coldplay song comforts my soul when low down:

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply Erin Taylor December 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Such profound truth Kathryn. So many people need to know that lifting our impossible situations, burdens and pains, both our own and others, to the Lord of Hosts truly is the most profound and powerful thing we can do. In any situation, big or small. It is where we should start.

    “He is the God of messed up families.He is the GREAT REDEEMER.”

    When we step aside, he can move in.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 your story is powerful.

    P.S. I love your writing.

  • Reply amber December 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I love how honest you are! It is all so very true, a quick cliche usually just adds to the fire. But a listening ear and heart felt prayers, can bring so much comfort, even if the pain isn’t gone.

  • Reply pnolasco December 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I am “mom”, by choice, by design and grace of my God. I always wanted to be a mom, an awesome mom, a consistant and steady strong mom….I have always known I can not be any of this without prayer and my deep faith in my Father God. I also know that I can live out some of my travel dreams thru your photography, I can keep praying for safety during world travels and that Our Lord God use you to His best need.
    lov ya lots, Mom

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