It was the Best Day. It Was the Worst Day!
Read: Exodus 17:8-13; Romans 8:26-27; James 4:2
Our church family receives many prayer requests. It is likely the same for any church.
Some of those needing prayer are brought to our attention during very harrowing times. Other requests are made known to us as a result of every-day circumstances that are important to them. In each case, we see only the tip of the iceberg concerning what the Lord does through the prayers that are prayed. Even so, we learn about our friends' best days and their worst days when we receive requests for prayer, and we share in their joys and sorrows as we talk to the Lord about the circumstances of their lives. We'll revisit these thoughts a bit later.
I considered those words concerning "best days and worst days" as I read a bit about Ken Potts who died this week. Here's why. Mr. Potts was the second to the last survivor of the bombing of the USS Arizona which occurred on December 7, 1941. He had just turned 102 when he passed away. That means that Lou Conter is now that battle's last survivor. Ken Potts helped rescue men from the burning water after the Arizona was struck, and he said of that terrible day that it was both his best day and his worst day in the navy. The best day because he survived, and the worst day because of all that occurred. On that day, 1,177 men from the USS Arizona died, in spite of the heroism of Ken Potts and so many others. After leaving the service as a boatswain's mate first class, Ken Potts settled down to a quiet life. He owned a car lot and sold cars, and he married in 1957 and was married to Doris until death parted them a few days ago. In spite of these good things, Ken Potts said that for many years, when he was out in the open, and if he heard a siren, he would shake. We owe a great debt to Ken Potts as well as all the faithful men and women who have served our country on both their best and worst days, and we thank God for them.
Back to the privilege we have concerning praying for one another. There is a great deal of mystery concerning talking with the Lord. Often, we don't know His will in a given matter; yet, He tells us to pray. Though His wisdom is limitless, and His power is never in short supply. He has given us the privilege of participating with Him in His work here through the means of prayer. This week, a friend whose strength has abated a bit due to age reminded me of this sweet truth. She and her husband can still pray. Regardless of other things that might be lessening in their lives, they are still here, and they will continue to cry out to the Lord on behalf of their friends.
Back to Mr. Potts for a moment. As was mentioned, he lived for many years with remnants of pain from all he experienced on December 7, as do so many others who experience trauma. What a reminder to continue to pray for survivors who might seem to have bounced back completely from whatever circumstances they have endured. Just because the wounds might not be visible, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. May the Lord remind us to pray for them. We can ask Him to give them multiplied joy on their best days and strength and encouragement on their most difficult ones. After all, don't we all long for more joy and more strength and comfort as each circumstance requires?
I love how Exodus 17:8-13 pictures our dependence upon one another. The Israelites were experiencing their first real battle after the Egyptians had been drowned by the Lord in the Sea. It was then that Amalek came out against the children of Israel. Because God ordained it, when Moses' hands were raised up, Israel had the advantage; however, when he became weary and his hands fell, the advantage went to Amalek. So Moses sat on a rock, and Hur and Aaron supported his hands, and Israel won the victory. Moses who was God's agent in announcing the plagues and so many other miraculous events had limitations and needed the support of Aaron and Hur. Could God have done it differently? Absolutely, but He chose to accomplish His will through this unusual means. Moses needed Aaron and Hur, and Joshua needed Moses' hands to be lifted up. They needed each other, and they needed God most of all.
Isn't it that the way it is with prayer? God can work with or without prayer. Nothing is hard for Him, Luke 1:37, and He doesn't require our aid. Yet, He chooses to use Spirit-led prayer to bring about His will even when we don't know how to pray, Romans 8:26-27. The scripture even says that some things don't occur because we don't ask, James 4:2. Yes, there is another facet of the sweet mystery of prayer.
Surely God has ordained it that we need the prayers of one another which sweeten the best days and sooth the ache on the worst ones. I don't know anything about Mr. Potts' relationship with Jesus, but one quote of his reminds me that he kept a sense of humor, one of God's good gifts, James 1:17. Many survivors of the Arizona's bombing have chosen to have their ashes interred on the sunken vessel; however, Ken Potts wanted a traditional funeral. He said to a friend's son that he didn't want to be brought back to the Arizona saying that he had got off once, and that he's not going on board again.
God has surely given both humor and tears to us, and both these gift help to sustain us.
They are a gift on both the best and worst days.