I'm filling in on this pastor's column for Pastor Patrick O'Neil, a wonderful man of God who has served Immanuel Lutheran Church with caring and compassion. Pastor O'Neil has been valiantly fighting cancer and is nearing the end of his life here on earth. Along with many around the Lakes Area, I have been praying for him and his family.
So why didn't God answer this prayer? Why doesn't prayer "work" sometimes?
God is not Santa Claus, and prayer is not a gift wish that we get if we are good. Prayer is not magic that "works" or doesn't work.
God created the world and all that is in it. God loves us and walks with us in our journey. Yet, God also lets the world go to be free to make choices -- good and bad choices. For us to live in a world without cancer or accidents or terrorism is to live in a world without freedom. To live in freedom is also to live in an imperfect world where bad stuff happens. Bad stuff happens because, with our freedom, we hurt each other, we have poisoned our air, water, food and ourselves. Our bodies get sick. We die.
Yet God is still good and loving. God doesn't leave us in the messes we make but offers us forgiveness, second chances, opportunities for change and healing. Sometimes healing is in the form of remission. Sometimes healing comes in the acceptance and hope that God has prepared a better place for us where love lives on. Prayer helps us to come closer to God, and closer to our best selves. This is always a miracle.
In my honest opinion, the core purpose of life is: loving others, learning to give selflessly, and learning serenity (acceptance of what we cannot control). Death is not the worst thing that can happen to us -- never loving and never living is worse.
God bless all who are grieving, all who face loss with acceptance and hope that there is more to this world than what we see. There is life beyond these bodies, and a reunion day in a better place. Just as Jesus died, and yet came back alive to show death has now power over us -- we have life.
BY REV DR. SARAH ROHRET
CALVARY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH