Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Prayer of Encouragement for 18 December 2020 for our country, businesses, frontline and other workers.
My Brothers, Sisters and Friends we hope that you are well. However, if not, please let us know.
We have been looking at the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah and his emotional response to ill-treatment that was repeatedly served to him. As I looked at Jeremiah’s life, I felt compelled to share certain challenging experiences that I faced, especially in recent times. Today I continue as life’s journey takes me on a rocky path.
This week I got news that a friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Yvette Stupart, died after a short period of illness. This was a shock to most of us though we knew that she was ill. In the instant of hearing, my mind literally rejected the news. I went through a state of denial. My mind needed time to allow the news with some form of depth so I quietly reflected on her life and the friendship we shared over the last 10 years. I got up and did some stretches and core exercises to relieve self of the rage of emotions that saturated my thoughts. Of course, prayer was essential.
My reflection was punctuated with tears and at times a smile as I thought of her commitment towards the work of God, and ensuring that her life was well spent for Him. Dr. Stupart was excited about God and had great plans. She was energised and would talk about Him with a pumped chest and smile which often turned into laughter, as she periodically raised her hands in praise and thanksgiving. She would be disturbed when we did not commit everything to God, allowing Him to lead our path.
I remember her telling me that I did not just have the ability and technical understanding to counsel persons but a gift especially for the younger generation. It has not been my main career so I took it lightly. However, she insisted. At that time I started to reflect on some of the things I did in counselling. Things which were very impactful and life changing but difficult to explain. She kept praying for me.
I vividly recalled our last meeting some months ago as I solicited her assistance concerning a project idea. She gave me her suggestions and recommendations, which I recorded. Although our meeting was in relation to the project, she turned her attention to me as she ministered to me personally. This was a common practice. Dr. Stupart recalled a number of years back when we were in a prayer meeting with some other colleagues and I was praying. She took her Bible and showed me the date and time of that prayer meeting, and a passage of scripture laid on her concerning me at the time. She pointed out that while she was praying for me during our last meeting that same scripture came to her in a profound manner. I have so much mourning going on, so that scripture has now provided me with comfort and hope. Psalm 126 (NIV).
“1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’. 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”Psalm 126:1-6 (NIV)
The Psalmists gave a short but powerful insight into the restoration of a people who were held captive. They faced many challenges and endured great losses but spoke with gratefulness for their release. The writer spoke of those who were broken and the unending reward that they would receive, which is compared to a constantly flowing stream. They celebrated but with an understanding that there was still work ahead.
Let me say that in the midst of the many blows that life throws at us, God is still in control of our lives. He is our Father, Deliverer and Guide, He is a comfort for us in the heat of our storms. He is our embrace, regardless of the challenges that we face. Even when some people may abandon us, He remains a constant place of strength. His promises stand, and His consistency is impeccable. We may question His whereabouts and wonder why He allows life to treat us like a Bounce-About. He allows us to take the tough and rough journeys but comforts us to be comforters.
I am aware that I share in Christ’s inheritance, and I share in His sufferings. Yet, having knowledge of this does not eliminate the need for me to process the pain and discomfort that become my reality. The blows may cause my tongue to temporarily cease its speech. I may get weak to a point where I feel that the journey is a hard one to complete. Although my mind may try to block the next blow that aims at it because it is still trying to gain a balance, I stand as a testimony, surrendering all to God so that His work is shown and seen in me. Yet, I cannot take credit for His work and accomplishments but pray that His mercies, goodness, hand of protection, favour and blessings will continue to lift me through, as I take the rocky paths of life’s journey.
I must admit that at times it feels like a lonely path. In those moments, I can get caught in self-pity, resentment, anxiousness and distress. Yet, I have to keep evaluating self, encouraging self, reaching beyond self so that I do not remain in a dungeon of emotional darkness. I have to hold on to what I know, lean on Him who I know, and take the support of those who stretch a hand, a voice or a word to encourage me. Yes, the path is not easy and I get weary but I have to take my journey as I rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit who lives in me, depending on Him as He refreshes me. It may sound like a poetic journey but know that this is my reality.
May you be encouraged knowing that you serve an awesome God. He will never leave you alone but you need to open your heart so that He can fill it with His presence, His power and His peace. Shalom.
As we meditate, let us pray:
Almighty God and Father, we thank You for Your love, grace and mercy. We give You all of the glory, honour and praise. We worship You almighty God. Lord, we adore You and bless Your Holy name. You alone are worthy to be praised, honoured and adored.
Lord, we ask that You have mercy on us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Lord, out of the depths of the earth we cry unto you. Forgive all of our sins and make us worthy vessels in Your sight for Your works wherein You are glorified.
Hear our cry, O Lord.
Lord, we ask that You have mercy on our leaders of churches, government, private sectors, voluntary institutions, communities and families. We ask that our intentions will be genuinely directed to act in the best interest of those whom we serve. Lord, grant us true wisdom, knowledge, insight and understanding in all that we say and do. Lord, grant us boldness and courage to stand with our brothers and sisters in families (Church and biological) and communities. Help us to be consistent and committed in our support for each other.
Dear Lord, we also ask You to protect our national leaders, as well as government workers. Lord we pray especially for the Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, Minister of Health Christopher Tufton, Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke, health workers and support staff, Minister of National Security Horace Chang, leader of the opposition and their families; Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force personnel and Security Guards.
Lord, we ask that You will help business leaders in Jamaica and the world. Lord remember especially: Business owners Business leaders in our congregation: Ewan and Maxine Oliver; Lanna and Desmond Bennett; Warrick Bogle, Carol and Leroy Blake, Marcia Leair, Robert and Bevelin Smith, Paulette Dixon, Kemorine and Karl Henry, Ava Comrie, Catherine Barkley and husband, Cornel Richards and family, Everton Lewis, Pauline and Mark Garvey, Brother Astley Hall, Maxine and Benedict Ranger, Melva Knight, Nicole Fender, Sharon Baldie, Karl Jones and others.
Lord, this Covid-19 Virus has put us into a different mode of operating. We ask that You help us not to become cold and selfish in our efforts to create distances. At the same time, protect and cover us from this Virus. Lord, remember those who work tirelessly in the battle relating to this Virus. Grant unto them strength, compassion and favour. There is the issue of the vaccine and accessibility. We ask that You grant wisdom and insight to our leaders, and cause it that they make the right decisions for our nation.
We remember frontline workers connected with GMC: Medical Doctors: Asana Anderson Wilks and Rohan Wilks, Kahlete Falloon, Tina Kong, Vernon Jones, Leighton Logan; Dentists: doing emergency cases; Jhenell Black, Dania Jones, Eleanor Reynolds; Pharmacists: Sandra Bucknor-Jones, Viveen Watson; other doctors and nurses from GMC or in connection with members and adherents of GMC who are working on the frontline (for example Dr. Richard Reynolds) and their families.
Lord, as a nation, we have a mix of persons, some of whom are trying to steal, kill and destroy. Help them to understand that You came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. Lord, turn their hearts to You. Lord, as a nation, keep us safe from dangers, harm, and robberies.
We are approaching the end of an unusual year. It is a year that carried events that many of us may never experience again in our lifetime. However, help us not to lose focus in celebrating the birth of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. Lord, we thank You for sending Your Son. We are eternally grateful.
Lord, remember Sister Sonia Dean and family who will lay the remains of her mother to the dust from whence it came. Lord, comfort them and grant them peace. Remember also my own family, Lord, as we also lay my father’s body to rest. Lord, we ask that You intervene at every aspect of the funeral and take control of every detail. Orchestrate and organise every aspect of the pre-burial, burial and post burial plans and activities. Lord, cover us and fill us with Your Shalom.
We ask that You provide healing for Mr. Norman Grant, our Sister Juanica’s husband. We pray for Your hand of comfort for our sister and her family at this time. We ask that You grant wisdom, compassion and insight to the health professionals who are caring for him.
Lord, we lift up those who are hurting in one way or the other. Fill us with Your peace and embrace us with Your presence, as You envelope us with Your love. In Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving.
Our Prayers of Encouragement are for everyone. Therefore, if you are also in need of prayer or comfort, please contact us with your request. We would be so very happy to share with you.