As I traveled to various ministry locations during the past two weeks, several events occurred that reinforced my awareness of the importance of calling for fire when encountering significant life events. During a worship service at Oliver Creek Church of Christ, we prayed for a young family whose baby had been born prematurely. A soldier stopped me in an armory hallway to thank me for pulling him aside for prayer regarding a major life event that created great uncertainty for him; he told me that the difficult situation had reversed. Before a military chapel service at which a new senior chaplain would be installed, I prayed first with the chapel staff, and then with the new senior chaplain for the service alone. The first prayer focused largely on praise for God and gratitude for chaplains’ leadership. The second prayer addressed fear and nervousness in assuming a new role.
While I traveled and met with both ministry leaders (civilian and military) and military personnel, people in countries like Israel, the Ukraine, and the Netherlands faced threatening circumstances. Israel and Palestinian Gaza exchanged military fire. Ukraine’s civil war was exacerbated when an airliner carrying civilians (including a number of medical researchers traveling to an AIDS conference) was shot down over Ukraine. Prayers ascended across the nations for those hurt by these events.
We serve a God whose power and love transcend our ability to understand. So, as we witness or experience personal or national changes, sometimes our faith founders as we struggle to reconcile the sequence of events with our own worldview. We search for stability and for hope. We forget, at least for a moment, that God stands ready to receive our cry for help, our call for fire. A prayer from Psalm 135 reminds us:
“Your name, O LORD, endures forever, your renown, O LORD through all generations. For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants” (Psalm 135:13,14).