At this moment in time I have a friend who is battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a friend who is battling Pancreatic Cancer, a friend who just lost her husband to cancer, another friend who lost her husband to cancer earlier this year, a friend whose granddaughter was diagnosed with Leukemia last week, a friend who is still dealing with the devastating side effects long after chemo treatments for breast cancer have stopped, and a friend who had a benign brain tumor removed three days ago. I pray for each of them daily. I am heartbroken when I think about the low, low valleys through which they are walking, especially because I’m miles away from all but one of them. Yet I am comforted in knowing they all have a strong faith life and believe God is in control. Some of them have a good prognosis, others are faced with the reality that their earthly journey is nearing an end, and two have been forced to begin a new normal without their life partners. All of them realize their lives have been changed forever.
So, I pray. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe God will either calm the storm or He will calm His child and that gives me peace and I know it brings my friends peace. Sometimes that means we are privileged to witness a miracle, other times that means we suffer heartbreak, yet we are able to continue to put one foot in front of the other and live the life God intended for us, only by His grace. It brings to mind the old hymn, Master, the Tempest is Raging, lyrics by Mary Ann Baker. Ms. Baker wrote the text in 1874 at the request of Dr. H. R. Palmer, who wrote the music that same year. Ms. Baker had endured great personal heartache and hardship, which is masterfully reflected in her lyrics.
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?
The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!
Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.
As a child, I remember sitting beside my Dad in the church pew, singing this hymn. His strong, low voice resonated with the bass echo, “Peace, be still; peace, be still.” I felt at peace then and I have felt at peace throughout my life, because I saw Jesus’ peace flow through my Dad in his daily journey through life. My Dad modeled for me the perfect peace that Jesus can bring to our lives, despite our circumstances. I saw it in him every day. He endured so much heartache, so much physical and emotional pain, yet he felt his heavenly Father’s perfect peace. He prayed fervently and he prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
I’m so grateful he lived his life as a prayer warrior, believing in the power of prayer. He modeled that for me and that has sustained me through some very difficult times in my life. And so, there isn’t a lot I can do for my friends who are suffering, but what I can do is love them and pray for them and that is more powerful than anything. Peace, be still; peace, be still.