Alarming news reports about the pandemic began to overwhelm me recently, so I stepped away from my computer and into my backyard for a nature break. Wild violets and dandelions sprinkled purple and gold across the bright green grass. I stared down at them, transfixed by the simple yet profound wonder of flowers. Even when God’s creation is suffering, flowers stand as reminders that joy is still possible. My mind traveled back to the wildflowers I saw last year by France’s D-Day beaches, sprinkled like tiny dots of grace through grass growing in craters. Those craters had been created from World War 2 bombs during fierce fighting.
Now our world is at war again. Now panic has spread throughout the globe once more. But we still have access to a powerful weapon – prayer – that has helped us throughout history to be victorious over panic.
All the uncertainty we’re facing can fuel panic. We don’t know when or how this pandemic will end. We can’t predict its terrible cost in terms of numbers of lost lives, jobs, plans, and more. God didn’t cause this pandemic; it happened because creation is broken and diseases are a fact of life in our fallen world. Yet God hasn’t removed his presence from us. We face great uncertainty, but we can trust in the certainty of God’s promise to always be with us.
A wondrous answer to prayer once showed me that God knows where we are in our journeys even when we don’t.
At Heathrow airport in London, I checked my watch. It was long past the time my husband Russ had been scheduled to arrive. My daughter Honor and I stared at the scaffolding covering the airline lounge where we’d arranged to meet Russ. “Closed due to construction” the sign read. We couldn’t have anticipated that problem when we’d planned how to get together with Russ after his graduate school trip ended and we flew over to start a British vacation together. We knew we wouldn’t be able to meet at the gate because Russ couldn’t arrive at the airport until well after our flight arrived. Our cell phones didn’t work internationally.
Thankfully, we had a backup plan – meeting at a restaurant we’d seen listed on the airport’s website. “Let’s go,” I told Honor. “Dad is sure to be there.” But when we arrived at the food court, we learned that the restaurant had gone out of business, and there was no sign of Russ at any of the other restaurants.
We had no other backup plan. Panic started to set in.
“What are we going to do now?” Honor asked.
“Maybe we could check with a representative from our airline to see if Dad has been looking for us,” I said, trying to calm the anxious tremor in my voice. We took an elevator up to the airline’s office, but no one there could help us.
Now that we were completely out of other options, I finally suggested prayer.
We huddled together over our luggage and began praying for God’s help. Then an idea came to me with a strong sense of urgency: Walk toward the closest elevator. So we decided to take the elevator to descend to the main floor and keep searching.
Just as the elevator doors opened, a gust of air from a nearby vent blew in our faces, drawing our attention to the vent at the exact moment that Russ walked underneath it! Russ stopped in his tracks, turned, and ran toward us.
The wonder of that moment – when the power of prayer had reunited us in one of the world’s biggest and busiest airports – reminded me that God sometimes “makes winds his messengers” (Psalm 104:4). It also made me realize that I should have turned to prayer first, not last.
In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I describe many more wondrous experiences that came into my life because of prayer.
Prayer is a prescription for peace. Prayer shifts our focus from the problems that fuel our fear to the possibilities that exist. When we pray with the faith that God will answer our prayers somehow, we open doors for wonder to flow through into our lives. In John 14:27, Jesus promises: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” God’s peace is a wonder we can count on whenever we pray, no matter what.
During this time of worldwide suffering, let’s keep praying to turn panic into peace. Let’s celebrate Easter with peace (my Crosswalk.com article “What Are You Afraid Of? 5 Ways to Rise beyond Fear This Easter” can help). We can eventually win this war if we keep praying for the peace and wisdom we need to do so.