"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring...
They go from strength to strength..."
We scurried around our home, with the nervous energy of anticipation. My home has not been so clean and organized in months. My husband was pulling down storm windows, filling the garage with all the items we usually keep on the porch, and moving vehicles away from potentially dangerous trees and falling branches. We were checking flashlights and, every so often, watching colorful Doppler maps of a storm named Irene.
After a relatively sleepless night listening to gusts of wind and heavy rain, most of the storm had passed. Irene’s fury was felt in many places, but aside from some toppled trees and a lot of debris, things returned to normal in our neighborhood fairly quickly. We never lost power. We never opened an emergency water bottle. We never heard a window crack. Thank God.
But plenty of my friends suffered. Now, 48 hours after the worst of Irene, many friends and family to the west and east of us are still without power (and may potentially be for days, they are told.) So, for my friends and family who are without power, taking cold showers (if your water is running), trying to salvage spoiling food, cleaning up flooded basements or homes, sick over the damage of fallen trees and rising rivers (some yet to crest), I say this prayer for you:
O God, draw near to my friends and family who are walking through a valley of suffering. May You yourself be their comfort, their dwelling place, as you have been in every generation. May they find their strength in You. May their hearts be set on pilgrimage, for You are our true home. As they pass through the Valley of Weeping, make it a spring. Give hope that You will bring good through this suffering. Give times of refreshment and restoration after a time of disaster. May they be free from fear about tomorrow. Give them the grace to go from strength to strength. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! You, LORD God, are a sun and shield; O Lord, give grace and glory. No good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly. Though we cannot see it now, we know You are the God who redeems, and we will see Your goodness. Your word declares, "Blessed is the man who trusts in You." So we trust and watch and wait for you to provide and work. In Jesus name we come to You, Amen.