I've been reading and praying with John 11, the story of Lazarus' progressing illness, death, and his healing.
I have also been praying with and for several people who are receiving palliative care for severe illnesses.
The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness. Jesus' presence with Lazarus and his family speaks clearly to me and all of us who are facing the cavernous mouth of death.
The truth is that life's pressures are so vast that in any given moment we may feel that we are wrestling with death.
Dreams, hopes and expectations can dissolve before our eyes. Our sense that we have any capacity to manage the pace or rhythm of family or personal challenges may falter in the face of escalating and relentless anxiety.
Here's another truth: Prayer provides effective palliative care. No matter how painful or hopeless an emotional, physical or mental situation becomes, Jesus' assuring presence can break through.
When we pray with and for each other we administer a spiritual balm that is life-giving. We can massage the tired heart, soothe the wounded psyche, and bathe the suffering body with Christ's curative presence.
As we walk through these days the call to pray on behalf of each other is magnifying. What a blessing! Christ, the deepest and richest source of the soul's healing is with us administering palliative care.
The Holy Spirit reminds us that our lives are not defined or limited by illness or mortality. Suffering may cast a shadow over our sense of joy or contentment, but it doesn't have the power to eclipse the light of Christ.
Christ stays with us beyond the dying process and opens the way to all that is life-giving. With and in Christ we can travel through the darkness and pain of whatever suffering we are facing and step into the light of new hope.
Originally posted April 8, 2011, at Faith Formation. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Pamela Czarnota’s blog Faith Formation at Lutheran Blogs.