Have you ever grieved for someone sitting across from you? I have. I remember looking at one of our students recently and thinking, “Where are you? Where have you buried that easy smile and gentle spirit?”
There is no other word for it but grief when a student is lost in the haze of substance use. This student is still alive, thank God, and this grief is not the same as the grief a parent feels should their child pass away. It’s not the kind of grief that brings people around with a show of condolences and support. It is a silent grief that no one talks about. It is buried in shame and despair. Nothing prepares you for the experience and certainly nothing prepares you for the deep sense of loss that enters your daily life. And so you grieve as you ask yourself "How did I fail this child?" He started in our school as a little boy. His sponsor has given me attention, gifts and encouragement. His teachers have shown him love on a daily basis. He even prayed and asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins several years ago. I could blame his mother who abandoned him or his father who is a drunk. By really where does blame get you.
While I was grieving such things as the loss of spending meaningful time with this student and what appeared to be the end of all the hopes I had for him, I also began to wonder if I wasn’t subconsciously preparing myself for an unthinkable outcome. I knew this student might be in mortal danger with his addiction. How could I possibly face that outcome?
It is so hard for us to minister to young people for years only to see them make bad choices in their high school years. I realized early that all I could do was pray for this young man and others like him in our ministry. I remind myself daily that the Lord God Almighty hears the prayers of His children. He commands us to pray, and He promises to listen when we do. “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
The most important lesson I learned and would like to share with others in a similar situation was to never, never, never give up. If your family member/friend/coworker is still there, you can find him or her again. There are many roads to recovery but they all start with a real relationship with God. The power of prayer does not flow from us; it is not special words we say or the special way we say them or even how often we say them. The power of prayer is not based on a certain direction we face or a certain position of our bodies. The power of prayer does not come from the use of artifacts or icons or candles or beads. The power of prayer comes from the omnipotent One who hears our prayers and answers them. Prayer places us in contact with Almighty God, and we should expect almighty results, whether or not He chooses to grant our petitions or deny our requests. Whatever the answer to our prayers, the God to whom we pray is the source of the power of prayer, and He can and will answer us, according to His perfect will and timing.
Please pray with us as our church ministers to this particular young man and others who have been affected by addiction.