A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

A NOTE from the Editor:  Joe actually wrote this article in June of 2005.  Amazingly, just a few weeks ago, this occurrence replicated itself, right down to the finding of a lost Boy Scout! 

While history does tend to repeat itself, it IS possible for us to grow as the lessons circle back around.  In addition to the miracle of another missing boy being found alive, is the fact that the news and other media outlets – including Hollywood – have begun to speak their faith out loud!   Now that’s some good news!


The P-word has been in the news lately.

You know, that one word.  The one that makes certain folks – especially those who work in the national media and in Hollywood – squirm.  Many of them would be more comfortable broadcasting all seven of Richard Pryor’s “Words You Can’t Say on TV” than broadcasting one news story, television program or feature film in which the word “prayer” is used in something other than a punch line.

And yet during the past week we’ve seen that word a lot in stories about an 11-year-old boy who was lost in the mountains during a Scouting encampment.  We heard about the prayers that were being offered in his behalf during the four days he was lost, and we heard about the prayers that were answered when he was found.

“People say that the heavens are closed and that God no longer answers prayers,” the boy’s mother said shortly after a tearful reunion with her son. “We are here to unequivocally tell you that the heavens are not closed, prayers are answered and children come home.”

Hear that sound?  That’s the sound of serious squirming in news rooms and Hollywood.

Of course, I squirmed a little when I heard her say that, too – but not because I’m at all uncomfortable with her message.  Like more than 70 percent of Americans, I believe.  Prayer is part of my daily life, and I’ve seen answers to prayer that would make your knees bend.  But as she made the statement, my mind went immediately to the family of another Scout who was lost in the same mountains last year – and never found.  They are praying people, too, and they have spent hours on their knees pleading with God in behalf of their lost boy.  Why was one set of prayers answered so extraordinarily, while the other prayers have so far been met with silence?

I don’t pretend to know why.  God alone knows, and so far, He’s not telling.

But I’m in awe of the response to this year’s miracle by the family of last year’s tragedy.  The father was one of the first to volunteer to help with the search for this year’s lost Scout.  His expertise in organizing and conducting mountain searches, gained after a year of bitter experience, was invaluable to the process of searching and finding.  And this year’s family expressed profound appreciation for the emotional support last year’s family offered throughout the anxious hours, helping them to cope with feelings and emotions only they could understand.

Other than this year’s family, no one was more joyful at the happy outcome than last year’s family.  They celebrated the miracle with bittersweet tears of joyful sorrow.  Then they dried their tears, rolled up their sleeves and prepared to resume their search for their still-lost son.

Praying all the while.

How do you maintain such faith under such dire circumstances?  Another question for which I have no answer.  Clearly, faith isn’t for wimps.  It isn’t like science, with definitive answers and predictable absolutes.  There is no such thing as The First Law of Thermofaith, holding that for every act of prayerful faith there is an equal and opposite positive reaction.  It doesn’t work that way.  If it did, we wouldn’t need faith, would we?  We could just pray and get whatever we want.  And we all know what happens to children who get everything they want, don’t we?  Who wants to live in a world with a bunch of spiritually spoiled brats?

When it comes right down to it, faith is about bending our will to God’s, trusting that His eternal perspective is infinitely superior to our limited, mortal view.  Building and maintaining faith isn’t easy – it never has been.  That’s why it’s so inspiring when we see how others flex their faith and speak openly and publicly about stuff like . . . you know . . . the p-word.

Even if it makes some powerful people squirm.

# # #

— © Joseph Walker

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