Thursday, March 3, 2016

How To Sustain


Sunday morning, February 28,
I was in the Word
and had my attention drawn to two passages of Scripture.
The first is Proverbs 15:4:
"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: 
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."
A wholesome tongue.
A healing tongue.
Another version called it a gentle tongue.

So, I was praying about that.
Thinking about what James says about our tongues.
A very world of iniquity.
And that the man who has control over that is a perfect man.
I prayed for forgiveness and transformation.
Because I have not achieved such perfection.
And sometimes, the words escape me.

I want to heal with my words. 
To restore and redeem. 
To reconcile. 
To build up.
To bless You and Your people. 

Then the Lord brought my attention to Isaiah 50:4:
"The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, 
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary."
Ah, Lord-- give me the tongue of those who are taught.
I want to know how to sustain the weary with a word. 

I read through these with my children, and we prayed together about them, too.

Sunday afternoon my brother went to the ER
because a pharmacist told him to when he saw his swollen elbow.
Tuesday afternoon, he went in for exploratory surgery
because of an infection that was not responding to antibiotics, and kept growing.
In surgery, he finally got a diagnosis: necrotizing fasciitis.
Maybe you never heard of it.
You probably don't want to.
I actually already knew what it was
because we have a family friend
whose life God miraculously spared from it in the 1990s.

A number of us skipped dinner for intercession,
(my oldest three children joined in that decision).
I did not sleep much.
My brother's ambulance was arriving at his third hospital very late,
and I wanted as much news as I could get.
And I was praying.

Once he was in surgery again,
and I knew the news would be awhile in coming, I grew so tired.
I fell asleep on my phone.
When I woke up, in the wee hours of the morning,
I looked at my phone and saw a little conversation, but still no news.
I prayed again, and found myself thanking God
for my brother, my family, my parents and my husband,
my very dear brothers and sisters in Christ
who were awake praying over my baby brother,
doctors and nurses who care and strain themselves doing it.

My sister said a little while later that she had fallen asleep
feeling guilty that she was so tired she couldn't stay awake.
So tired.
But here's the thing, and what really has been balm:
While we were collapsing exhausted,
the Lord was waking up people who love Him to intercede.
I've heard from at least fifteen people
(and I do not doubt there are more)
who were awakened to pray in the night.
And I think of Moses standing with his arms lifted but weary,
and friends who care coming in to support.
And I am overwhelmed with gratitude
at God's handiwork in uniting a family that is not family.
I am so thankful for the family He placed me in,
that transcends states and nations, that crosses over time zones.
When one member suffers, we all suffer.
Bless the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.

And yesterday, as I was pondering the whole thing,
and thinking how like to flesh eating bacteria
the growing evil in our nation and world is,
and how we need to be directed to the care of a doctor,
to have the condition recognized for what it is,
to be scrubbed clean of it,
and to be prayed over,
but we are too tired and weak to intercede alone --
the words came back from Sunday morning again.

A wholesome tongue.
A healing tongue.
The tongue of those who are taught.
That I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Because we are weary.
My brother's body is weary.
And prayer and the Word sustain.

And perhaps God will have mercy on our nation if we call out to Him.
Those who are taught intercede.
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