Read Acts 12:1-12; Philippians 1:20-21; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
"Look for the Helpers." This was a phrase that Fred Rogers attributed to his mother. When he was growing up and would observe a scene that made him afraid, she would tell her son to pay attention to those who were on the scene, ready to give aide to the ones in need. With that in mind, I would like to say thank you to so many different groups of people who fall into Fred Rogers' mother's category of helpers. For this writing, I'm limiting my remarks to where we live, Hot Springs, South Dakota. However, every place has its own helpers, and they too have earned recognition.
Thank you to the policemen in our little town of Hot Springs. Most of us don't know all that you do, but we are thankful you are here to help and that you watch, with the goal of keeping us safe.
Thank You for all who fight the fires. You work as volunteers to do this very dangerous job. We can't say, too many times, how much we appreciate all that you do. Even this summer your excellent work helped keep this town safe.
Thank you to the EMTs who care for people in frightening medical situations. Thank you to those of you who fly people to larger medical facilities, when needed. Thank you for each of you who drives the ambulance, bringing those in need to the hospital for care.
Thank you to each mom, dad, sibling and spouse whose loved one serves our country far away. No matter which branch of the military you represent, your loved one is helping keep us safe, and you who live here are our neighbors. Your lives are altered each time your loved one is deployed. We appreciate how you perform the needed tasks and carry burdens by yourselves to support your serviceman who can't, at this time, be with you. Each of your loved ones who serves is appreciated. May the Lord take care of each one of them.
What about those of us who God didn't fit to be these kinds of helpers? What can we do? The Bible answers that question. We can be helpers through our prayers. The amazing thing about it? Anyone can be this kind of a helper, regardless of age, strength, innate ability or any other human category because the power comes not from the prayer but the Almighty One to Whom we pray.
When I think of the apostle Paul, I usually think of an unflappable man who stood strong and never falters. Yet, in our scripture passage in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul showed us that he too was vulnerable to despair. He did not give details as to all that went on during this time in his life, but he came to understand that he was wholly dependent on the Lord for his help. We don't know the details of Paul's deliverance from those circumstances, but we know that it was Almighty God Who brought him through. With that in mind, the apostle says a beautiful thing. The Corinthians could help him by praying with him, 2 Corinthians 1:11. Their joining him in prayer would result in thanks being offered to God for the favor that Paul would receive, however God manifested it. I wonder what God did as these believers helped through prayer? Undoubtedly, there were things Paul experienced and other wonders God brought about without announcing it to Paul. Eternity may well hold many surprises concerning what God did in answer to the prayers prayed by the apostle Paul's helpers.
This week, I was reminded of a few details God did in answer to prayer on behalf of a friend. They were precious "little things" that are part of a larger story that only the Lord can fully unfold in His time. It is enough to say that I was reminded that God is due our glory and awe because we see so little that He has done, is doing and will do as we help others through prayer.
In Acts 12:1-12, we see God moving in a wondrous way through prayer. I know that the Lord does not always move in such a way as this, but isn't it encouraging to remind ourselves that He is well able to do so, whenever it pleases Him. Oh, I would have loved to be there in that cell. Okay, not as a prisoner, but as an observer. Can't you picture Peter being smacked by the angel and those chains falling off? Can you picture him sleepily putting on his sandals and cloak? How amazing would it have been to observe the gates opening for them as Peter and the angel walked right by, unseen by the guards? How gracious was God to deliver him through the prayers of the church. A reminder to us that God can do anything to help, in response to our prayers.
So, whether it is a little detail of blessing or a grand deliverance, what a privilege to be one of those who God chooses to be His helpers in prayer. Yes, there is nothing He needs or can't do without us, but He has chosen to make us a part of His plan to bring about His will on earth. Lord, bless the hard working helpers who serve this town, and please keep them safe.
Father, when You want us to help through prayer, please make us sensitive to Your voice and enable us to call out to You.