April 14, 2018
by Susan Naatz
Creighton University's Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 272

Acts 6:1-7
Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
John 6:16-21

Celebrating Easter

Easter Prayer for Today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Three months ago in early January, I was finishing up my workday and looking forward to attending a university basketball game that evening with my husband.  I received a text from him informing me that throughout the day, he had been experiencing a sudden onset of incredible pain in his back and leg.  He told me that he would not be able to attend the game that night.  I was surprised because he loved the games.  As I hurried home I was concerned yet at the same time, I hoped that an over-the-counter pain medication and a heating pad would solve the problem.  That was not to be the case.

By the next day, the pain was so excruciating that he could not sit or stand.  The only time he experienced some relief was when he was lying down.  My concern quickly turned into fear as he groaned and writhed in pain.  We were able to see a doctor that day who gave him strong medication but nothing reduced the pain.  For the next seven weeks we consulted several doctors, he endured countless tests and they prescribed a variety of non-surgical approaches.  The remainder of the time, he had to be in a reclined position because walking and sitting were excruciating endeavors.  My active, busy and involved husband was suddenly and dramatically removed from “living” his life.  He was in too much pain to have visitors.  Our children, friends and extended family members were deeply worried.  My heart was gripped with fear.  What if we could not find a solution?

Eventually, when nothing could stop or ease the pain, he chose to have surgery.  On the day of surgery, while the medical team was preparing him for surgery, one of the nurses mentioned that our surgeon would sometimes pray with his patients before surgery.   We were gratefully surprised to receive that information and when our surgeon came in, we asked him if it was possible to pray together.  He said that he would be happy to do so.   

As he prayed I felt my fear begin to dissipate while sparks of peace and tranquility began to penetrate my mind, body and spirit.  Later my husband told me that he had the same experience.  The prayer brought a serenity to us that we had not experienced for many weeks.   We trusted our surgeon and were aware of God’s presence. 

The surgery was successful and as I write this reflection, my husband has almost completely recovered.   We will be forever grateful to his surgeon who not only brought physical relief to my husband but also provided spiritual solace to both of us.

Today’s gospel gives us a more intense and incredible illustration of fear which gripped the Disciples.  It is easy for me to understand their turmoil.  Not only were they attempting to deal with a strong storm but they also looked out over the water and saw someone “…walking on the sea and coming near the boat.”  Most human beings would be overwhelmed by fear in those conditions.  When he recognized their fear, Jesus said to them, ‘It is I.  Do not be afraid.’”  When they heard those words and recognized Jesus, I believe that they experienced peace and tranquility which sprang from their deep trust of Jesus.  Their trust and love for him helped their fear to dissipate.

Over and over in scripture, God assures us that we are loved and protected. In this gospel encounter we see how Jesus reassures his friends by inviting them to trust him.  “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  He reminds them that he will protect them just as he protects us while we navigate the challenges of our lives.

It is through our faith and trust that we find God and Jesus…to be our anchors when our own boats are being tossed on the rocks of life.  In our prayer today, may we recognize our fears, lean into God’s love and open ourselves to the sparks of peace and new life.

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