There were a number of pastoral moments where needs were engaged with and prayed over and the initial feeling of impotence and the desire to get out there and make a solution happen crashed together to challenge and frustrate. It can be so hard to see things through God's eyes and to step back that little bit so perspective and clarify are found. It can be such a challenge not to merely go out and make it all go away, but the quick fix is usually nothing more than a temporary fix as experience with some of the Welfare Officers I have encountered shows.
Some time back I had someone come into my reckoning and they were part of an obviously failing marriage. As I started to get to know the couple I became aware that this was a situation made worse by a well meaning person who, upon being told there was marital strife, merely passed over a handful of tenders and told the husband to, "Buy her a bunch of flowers, take her out for a good meal and take her to bed!" This was apparently the key to mending everything. It took the sting out of things for a few weeks but as the tears and turbulence returned the plasters were washed away and discontent turned to a sense of fatalistic despair.
What was needed was a change of heart and lifestyle from both of the players and it took some time to see that the pressures of an accompanied posting were taking their toll. A family moved from their home and a job which demanded many weekends away. Although the Bible affirms the fact that it is not good for us to be alone, sometimes it is not good for us to be accompanied it seems. Suffice to say that dialogue was engaged and shared values, goals and hopes - and fears - enabled the couple to celebrate what they had and to remove or adapt what they had to put them on the path towards what they wanted.
The well-meaning desire 'make it happen now' turns the provider of the solution into one who can usurp the role God should have. What we need is good note-taking, sound prayer and a large dollop of active listening.
For those with whom I have engaged today, the bereaved, the soon to be bereaved, those progressing towards the door and those who only want their own front door.
I thank you that you are the answer. You are Jehovah Jireh - the God who provides.
I praise you that you truly are Jehovah Rapha - the God who heals.
I worship you for you are Jehovah Shalom - the God who brings peace.
Lord I lay before you the encounters of the day and the needs of the moment which press and challenge and give you the temptation to seek to be Christ for the people rather than lead them into His presence.
For the blessing I have hopefully been today I praise you; for the block in the pathway I may have been I come before you seeking forgiveness and teaching; for the people and situations tomorrow brings I pray You will be my first port of call and my strength and ability rather than the last resort when my limited abilities fail.
The greatest challenge I have is to help people die well as to live well, with You, until the last day comes. The greatest gift I can give is the call of the writer of Hebrews to take the day assigned to us that we might amend our ways, bolster our faith, and seek the Lord: I thank you that the name of that day is TODAY.
Help me never to lose sight of that and not live in the triumph or regret of yesterday. The hope and desire of tomorrow but to live in, and for, the only in which I can act and make a difference: today.