Wednesday, April 24, 2019 -
It is so easy to give up on people. We pray and pray for their well-being or their salvation, but nothing seems to happen. Often we see a glimmer of perhaps a break through, but it never seems to happen. But Paul tells us, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good, be FERVENT IN SPIRIT, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:10-12)We are to be diligent and fervent in our concern and prayer for others! And not give up.
I read a perfect illustration of this today, and how God can use our perseverance to impact not just one person, but perhaps millions! Around 120 years ago, outside of Boston, there was an asylum for deeply retarded and disturbed individuals. One of the patients who was completely non-respondent to others, was a girl known only as “little Annie”, and eventually the staff locked her in a cell in the basement of the home.
But there was a Christian woman who worked at the asylum who took a special interest in Little Annie and spent her lunch hours outside her cell, reading and talking to her, all while she never stopped praying that God would deliver her from her silence and unresponsiveness. She would bring food and leave it for Little Annie, but she never took it, till one day she took a brownie, and the woman talked the doctors into giving Little Annie a second chance. She eventually responded to treatment, and within two years was told she was normal and could leave.
But Little Annie chose to stay on and work there, helping others who were like her.
Decades later, the Queen of England honored one of the most inspiring women at the time in the United States. Helen Keller, whose amazing story, like you probably read as a young person, Helen Keller overcame both deafness and blindness to become a great American. When asked to what she attributed her success, she responded, “If it hadn’t been for Anne Sullivan, I wouldn’t be here today! Yes, Little Annie became the renowned Anne Sullivan, who through love and perseverance and failing to give up was the one person who was able to break through to the lonely, tormented Helen Keller in her dark, silent world. But if it hadn’t been for that one nameless woman who never gave up on Little Annie, the story of Helen Keller and her amazing life would have never happened!
It is so easy for us to give up on people. I think of those Kathie and I have spent years praying for, to the point where often we’ve tempted to give up. Yet, one day we’ll get a phone call, and learn that after years, or sometimes decades, that person for whose salvation we’ve been praying for has finally embraced Christ as their own, in answer to our perseverance.
I do not know why sometimes it takes years. Other times it doesn’t. But as we pray, we also must demonstrate with our own lives what it means to be a Christian, and how our lives are different. Does the fruit of the Spirit identify who we are? Love, Joy, Peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control”? I think of the men I’m praying for here in prison, those who claim to be Christians because they were good most of their lives, or their parents were Christians. I tell them multiple times what a true Christian is, but somehow it doesn’t sink in. One of them told me the day before yesterday, “I try to read the Bible, but it seems meaningless to me.” I told him once Christ is in his heart he will read the Bible in a whole new light. Now, I told him every time I read it, I get something new out of that passage. God gives us a passion for His word.
So my friend, pray that I will persevere. And you persevere as well, in prayer, for those you think have no hope. I’ve seen too many answered prayers – just when I’ve least expected it! I call them miracles!