We stood under a canopy in the parking lot, cameras rolling and clicking, microphones and recorders extended. It seemed like every local news affiliate had sent its crew. And then there was The Soulful Catholic carrying out her day job as a reporter with a local community newspaper.
“Pray for healthcare workers,” the director of nursing told us. “Our frontline workers, our ICU staff, our nurses, they’re just tired. They’re going to take care of anybody who comes in and all of our COVID patients, but people don’t stop having heart attacks and cancer at this time. So all of our work continues plus this added work.”
To keep us all safe, the press conference was being held outdoors. Finally, after the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the ruination of businesses and months of unease and isolation, a vaccine for COVID-19 would become reality. We were there to get the story on how Dignity Health, in conjunction with Maricopa County, would be distributing some 36,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to frontline healthcare workers over a 10-day period just before Christmas.
Not to worry, pro-lifers. The vaccine was NOT created with aborted fetal cells. (Yay for that answered prayer!)
Of all the information that was shared with the media that day — and there was plenty — I was particularly struck by the plea to the general public for prayers on behalf of those who are working directly with COVID patients. With four nurses in the family, you can bet this was something I was already doing, and yet I thought it was great that she was bringing God into the moment at an event that had nothing to do with religion or church. Yep. The Soulful Catholic was silently cheering this acknowledgement of the need for prayer.
That’s because when we turn to God in prayer, we recognize that He’s God and we’re not. In a vast universe brought into existence by His Word, our pleas do not go unanswered. Ever.
Sometimes it takes a while for us to see our prayers answered, but we should never doubt that God hears our cry. His responses are lovingly tailored to each individual circumstance. At times, His answer is a decided “yes.” Other times—and for our own good, though it may not seem so—it’s “no” or “not now” or “not yet” or “I’ve got something better in mind.”
And if we trust Him with our whole heart, we can know that He will do or allow what is best. What a relief! We’re not in charge — He is!
The other thing that went through my mind as I reflected on the director of nursing’s humble request for prayers was a passage from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus tells us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11: 28-30).”
How many of us are dragging around burdens that are exhausting us and crushing us? What yoke have we taken upon ourselves?
Now is the perfect time to turn to Jesus and let go of the burdens that weigh us down: regret, pride, selfishness, anger, bitterness, the past, worry, fear, anxiety, despair. NONE of that is from the Lord. I repeat: None of that is from God! He wants to free you from all of that!
Now, if you connect yourself to Jesus and pick up your cross, what you’ll find is that His burden is indeed light. That’s because He’s doing the heavy lifting. And, He’s pouring His grace and very life into your soul.
When we’re yoked to Jesus, when we lovingly embrace His will for our lives, this is what we bear: forgiveness, freedom, joy and hope.
Which would you rather carry around?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I let go of every single hurt and regret and failure. I surrender to You completely my past with all its mistakes, my present with all its struggles and my future with all its uncertainty. I want to be yoked to You forever. I want to bear the burden and cross you entrust to me because I know You love me and empower me by Your grace. Amen.