Note: I write prayers for myself, and for others who engage pain of every type—mind and heart, body and soul. I invite you to change these words as needed and make the prayer your own. Or change the words and pray for someone you know (or better, someone you don’t). I appreciate prayers—but I appreciate even more the prayers we speak for others.
Sovereign over the universe, vast beyond my imagination; Living God over all life, complex beyond understanding. You alone are my God in a god-filled world; each competing for allegiance: loud, proud, demi-gods, and cool, quiet, seclusion. I just need you to know my pledge is to you. I have no place to complain: mortal to immortal, finite to infinite. Nor any right to question, only your invitation to speak truth. So, I just need you to know: I miss my life, God, all that I once enjoyed; pleasures in full retreat, now out of sight— but not out of mind. Not when I pass a golf course, and see myself standing; practice swings on the tee box, walking down the fairway. Not when I pass a bass boat, and see myself standing; flipping a worm into brush, the line twitches, I feel the hook set. My heart feels sick and I can’t forget. Not when we are on the coast, and I see us walking; you made the beach for two, waves to splash over feet, words to speak in silence. Certainly not in the mountains when I see myself hiking; up a trail hidden in the trees, breathing hard, gulping air, a sharp turn and suddenly, breathless at the sight. I miss standing and walking, no pain screaming profanity; medicine absorbing memory, and I still can’t forget. Not when I pass the university, and I see myself teaching; a room alive with energy, questions, ideas, living joy. I see my colleagues at work, student-filled offices; brilliant minds to teach, soft hearts to point the way. I see myself in my office, back when I was leading; days-dreaming, fire du jour, walking the halls, working with J.R. Lord, you asked me, what else can I say? I miss what pain has taken, slowly draining my life; then a bandit at night steals the unexpected. I know you already know, or so your son claimed; but I need to say it too, it’s not just my feet, my legs, my hands; my spirit too. You asked, Be honest. So I have, I can no more forget, than pain can lose meaning. And I also can’t forget, I have no hope but you. All I can do is remember, the promises you made; hope for the future: your presence now, here. Amen
Glenn Pemberton is a minister turned professor turned writer. After serving churches in Texas and Colorado, Glenn completed a Ph.D. (Old Testament). He then taught at Oklahoma Christian University before coming to Abilene Christian University in 2005, retiring as professor emeritus in 2017 due to a severe chronic pain. Glenn now spends his time writing for the church. Along with short essays he has published four books, including The God who Saves: An Introduction to the Message of the Old Testament (2015), and Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms (2012). Glenn and his wife Dana continue to live in Abilene, Texas.