The Pastor’s Pen                             August 10, 2016

But seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”                                           Matthew 6:33

Sometimes the kindest response we can give to expressed need is “no”. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. People frequently come to the church both from our local community and from away, in need of all manner of things. Some individuals are just passing through, and living on the edge, they may need a hand-out such as a food or a gas voucher, or a place to sleep before moving on to somewhere else. Another person who stops by the church office may be your neighbor, who has experienced a family medical emergency or change in work that has temporarily strained provision for their family. They may seek a hand-up until their situation improves. Still others share a story and ask for prayer or forgiveness or counsel from someone they trust will care for them with compassion and without judgment. By God’s grace, none of these will not be disappointed.

But once in awhile, the most compassionate word, the path to peace, the faithful response to an inquiry is “no”. One day this spring, a woman from another part of the country stopped by looking for home. Her beater car barely made it to town, and she lacked the resources to go further. We spent considerable time becoming acquainted, and then she said what she dreamed: “I like it here. All I need is a little cottage by the sea to call home. Can you help me find that here?”

I took a deep breath and then told the truth. Living on a very small social security check, and in her case without the capacity to increase her income through employment, I knew that she would be unable to afford year-round rent in a beachside community like our own. Even local residents with two income earners in the household often seek more affordable housing elsewhere. The most compassionate answer to her need was “No”.

This helps us understand how God answers prayer, doesn’t it? Most of the time we pray and feel great comfort and sustenance from God’s ever-present power to make all things well. But sometimes the thing we think we simply have to have to be happy is not the thing most needful at all. We may think a new pony will make us happy, when what we really need is a healed relationship with someone we love. We may think what we really need in order to find peace is a simple cottage by the sea. While that would be lovely, we might soon discover that our anxieties followed us there to the shore.

That’s when God says, “No”. When God seems silent on the other end of the prayer line, God actually draws nearest to us of all. In the silence, God invites us to trust and wait for God’s better plan to be revealed.

Prayer: Thank you God, for knowing not only the needs of our lips but also the needs of our lives. Help us to trust you fully this day, and to wait for your response to our prayer. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland