I pull into a hospital parking lot on a cool fall morning. Leaves crunch beneath my feet as I walk to the entrance. I find “Intensive Care Waiting Room” on the directory, ride an elevator, and find my friend. She offers me a weary smile and a doughnut from a box sitting on a table next to her. I take a seat instead of the doughnut and wrap my arms around her. What do you say in moments like this one?
A few days ago, she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, a recurrence of a battle she fought (and won) almost thirty years before. Then, in the same week, her healthy, active husband had a heart attack no one saw coming. A double bypass followed. The surgery went well. He would go home. But for now, we waited.
I’d woken up long before the sun rose that morning. With a heavy heart, I thought of my friend. One word kept coming to mind: Maranatha. I knew it originated in Scripture but couldn’t recall where it appeared or even what it meant. When I started researching, I found Maranatha is translated “Come, Lord!”
“Shalom” is the traditional Jewish greeting. But early Christians greeted each other with “Maranatha” instead. It’s a one-word prayer. And, yes, the ultimate desire behind it is for Jesus to come back and take us Home. But it means much more than that too.
I said “Maranatha” over and over as I prayed for my friend.
Come, Lord, into the middle of these hard circumstances.
Come, Lord, with your power and peace.
Come, Lord, with your comfort and strength.
Yes, God is always with us, but I’ve had moments—and I imagine you’ve had them too—when he feels especially present. As I sat with my friend in the waiting room, she described how she felt that way in her husband’s hospital room.
She said, “None of this makes sense. We know that. Yet I trust there’s something deeper I don’t see. Something in the deep, waiting for me and those I love. This is how God works, and for all of you saying, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ my answer is that he’s right here—over, under, in front, behind, and around us.”
When our world falls apart, plans crumble, and our hope flutters like a tattered flag, God has not left us. He’s a God not of distance but devotion, not of neglect but infinite nearness, not of apathy but affection so great he gave everything for us.
I don’t know how my friend’s story will unfold in the next few months, but I’m certain she won’t face it alone. Whatever you’re going through, that’s true for you too. God is present in the hardest moments of our lives. He’s there in the dark when we whisper prayers for those we love. He’s with us in the waiting rooms.
Come, Lord, into whatever the future holds.
God, sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we’d hoped or planned. Thank you that we can trust you are with us and for us even in those moments. You will never leave us or forsake us. We will never face anything alone. We trust you now. We trust you always. Maranatha. Amen.
Question for Reflection
What’s a hard moment in your life when you sensed God’s presence and care?
This post is an excerpt from my new devotional, What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times: 60 Powerful Truths to Protect Your Peace. If you want to live with more peace and less pressure, more calm and less chaos, more worship and less worry—What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times is for you.
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Today on More Than Small Talk, Bonnie Gray, author of Sweet Like Jasmine: Finding Identity in a Culture of Loneliness, joins us for a conversation about belonging and finally being beloved. Listen in!