Have you ever been in danger? Hungry? Needed a place to live? Have you ever been so ill you couldn't work? Felt hated? Felt hateful? Wanted with all your heart to spend time with someone who wouldn't or couldn't spend time with you?
I'd have to check the "Yes" box for all of the above! Sometimes it has helped me just to know that others have faced such desperate moments. The psalms in the Holy Bible are full of pleas to God from individuals who needed help in times of desperation. You could read the entire book of Psalms and find examples of just about every kind of desperate situation you'd ever encounter in your own life. That's one reason why the psalms have continued to comfort and heal human beings for thousands of years.
But the psalms also contain great praise for God. One verse sings, "While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being" (146:2). Think of that! Any being at all.
What if it doesn't look as if our desperate prayers for help are being answered? Is God still good? Isn't He listening to us? Does He have something better to do? Is He so angry with us for that last little slip-up that He's going to punish us now by letting us sit there and be uncomfortable till we learn our lesson?
God is still good and only good. And He wants only good for us. One time Jesus Christ asked his followers, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" (Matt. 7:9). Jesus showed that it just isn't logical that God wants us to suffer or to go without what we need. It is from this basis, from the understanding that God is eternal good, and that He loves us and cares for us, that we can pray.
One weekend, my husband and I planned a car trip to see the beautiful fall leaves. But that morning I woke up very ill. At first I said nothing. I went along anyway, but finally I told my husband I was so sick I needed to turn around and go back home.
Before we did, we paused at a rest area. There, I prayed what I've come to call my "Desperation Prayer." It always starts with a "given" - acknowledging God's goodness and His love for all His creation. This time, it went like this: "Dear God, given that You are all good, and given that You love me too much to give me something beautiful and good just to take it away, what do You want me to think?"
Whenever I ask this, I know I'm really asking for an angel. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote of angels as "God's thoughts passing to man" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 581). So, really, I was asking God to send His angels to help me, just like the Psalmist would.
This came to my thought: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him" (Matt. 5:25). Frankly, I'd always been a little uncomfortable with that Bible verse! Why would we agree with our adversary, with something that isn't good? But I had to believe that God had given me this idea to think about.
I did my best! At first I said: "OK, I'll agree, I'm sick as a dog! Furthermore, I'll agree that if we go back home, we're going to miss out on this nice trip."
But as I said these things, I knew they weren't logical. I love God, and He loves me. There isn't any other power, which could cause sickness. So when I was all through "agreeing," I added: "But I'm still going to stand here and worship my God. I am going to stand here and praise His holy name, anyway, 'while I have any being.' "
I praised God for the fall beauty I had already seen. A man had set up a makeshift soccer field and was playing with his small sons, and I thanked God for the beauty and joy of this family. My favorite breed of dog was at the rest stop, and I praised God for its beauty, strength, and agility. Many Bible verses that I'd memorized flooded my thought. I just worshiped God with them.
After a few minutes I realized that the sickness was completely gone. With great gratitude, we proceeded on our trip and had a wonderful time.
Such prayer of praise to God tends to bring our lives into alignment with all the good God always has for us. Still. Anyway.