Tonight, my older daughter will board a plane all by herself to travel to Ghana for a 5-week internship.
Last night, Barbara texted me to ask for prayer for her oldest daughter who was awaiting surgery for a blood clot in her leg.
We worry. In fact, I’m sure there’s something in each of us that is absolutely terrified.
As women of faith, and as moms, we push away those feelings. We cling to Jesus and surrender, yet again, our children unto the Lord. But speaking for myself, and my guess would be for Barbara, too, there’s a voice inside way deep down screaming in fear.
So we pray. We ask others to pray. I ask you to pray.
Where will I find peace until she returns? Where will Barbara find peace until her daughter is out of the woods?
I found the response to those questions at Mass this morning in the Old Testament reading from the first book of Kings (1 Kgs 17:7-16).
It is a familiar story:
The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry,
because no rain had fallen in the land.
So the LORD said to Elijah:
“Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.
I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”
He left and went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
We see Elijah thirsting. At most, he has 3 days to live. God sends him to an unlikely place – to a widow, one of the lowly people in that society and a person of little means. In fact, God “designated a widow there to provide” for Elijah. In human terms, Elijah would not have sought a widow to alleviate his burden, but trusting in God, he obeyed. God often leads us to places we would not choose to go.
Along with his thirst, Elijah brought his hunger and asks for something to eat. The woman answers and a conversation ensues:
“As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked;
there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”
How does the woman respond?
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She said, “Yes,” even though she knew they would die.
We know nothing of her thoughts, only her actions, so we discern her response accordingly. God prepared her to receive Elijah; she was ready. God had provided for her in her widowhood until that time; she knew God’s providence. She trusted that God would continue to provide.; she abandoned herself and her son to His will.
Indeed, such happened:
She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.
We, likewise, are called to give everything to God and to trust Him. To say, “Yes,” to the unknown, especially as mothers, where it concerns our children. This is the only way to find peace – complete abandonment to the love of God in the name of Jesus. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
So as I go forward praying for Barbara’s daughter and my own, “I will call this to mind as my reason to have hope, the mercies of the Lord are not exhausted, his favors are not spent, they are renewed each morning so great is his faithfulness,” (Lam 3:21-23), and I will stand on His word, “Fear is useless, what is needed it trust.” (Mk 5:36)
My Jesus, I trust in you! Anne