I’ve been distraught of late. I know better. I know God is more powerful than people. Yet I've been floundering, not really praying, not really feeling blessedly assured. I've been crying for the ones who can’t go home, for the ones who are suffering and may suffer more as a result of the bad choices of greedy, fearful and misinformed people.
I offered to watch a friend’s baby this morning as much for my own sanity as for her ability to attend English class. The baby and I went to visit Grandma Coffee. Coffee is 97 years old. In worship last Sunday she stood up and told a story that she’s told many times before, a story that never gets old:
She and her husband had just arrived in Korea as missionaries at the end of the Korean War. There was a building that she recognized as a church except all the windows were blown out and there were piles of rubble. Yet she could hear voices coming from that ravished space . Voices singing in Korean a song she knew well in English. “And though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” So she knew God was already there and thus begun her two decades in Korea with the theme song of her life becoming “This is My Father’s World.”
She held this little baby during part of Sunday worship, this baby whose mommy made it safely to the US and for the misfortune of being a survivor of a crime and the courage of reporting it can now stay in this country out of the shadows. We hope.
This baby and I came to Coffee’s this morning because I thought she would like to hold the baby again. I also thought, surely, in the presence of these very young and very old souls I would find some solace.
I told Coffee that I am angry, sad and scared. Then she spoke my deeper thoughts that I’ve been trying to conceal. “And you find yourself thinking, ‘Lord strike him down.’ But you know that isn’t going to work at this point because there must be others that think and feel like him. And so you pray.”
Every morning she has been reading, or rather asking someone to read to her from John Baillie’s daily devotional. She had already read it this morning before I came, but asked me if I’d like to read it aloud. “ Can you read while holding a baby? I can’t see the words anymore.” The baby had fallen into a deep and settled rest upon my chest. Her warm breath steadying and deepening my own tight and anxious breaths. “Yes, I can read with a baby in my arms. I have years of practice.”
So I read and prayed and those tears sprang a leak down my cheeks. “Help me, O Lord God, not to let my thoughts today be wholly occupied by the world’s passing show.”
And it helped. From the outside someone might have mistaken me for the helper- holding the baby, visiting my elderly neighbor. But I was the neediest, the hungriest, the most consoled.