By Robert Halsey Pine
“Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-18 NRSV).
At the age of 16, St. Patrick of Ireland was captured by pirates and taken from Britain to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery. He became very religious while he was there, and after six years he escaped and returned to Britain. He then became obsessed with the idea of Christianizing Ireland. He studied religion in various places in Europe before being designated by the Pope as missionary bishop to Ireland. The rest is history, with a few legends thrown in like running the snakes out of Ireland.
Patrick was very intentional about Christianizing Ireland. One would think that after escaping from slavery that Patrick would never want to see Ireland again. Instead, this ugly interruption in his life led to a lifelong ministry in Ireland and the included the conversion of thousands. We don’t always want to look into the pit of our distress and see the light. We only see darkness, and we want to run from it. We should take a lesson from St. Patrick in his vision of light for a place that was darkness to him for six of his youthful years. He saw light where there was no light.
When we are distressed and sick, we must be intentional about seeking light in our situation. We cannot assume that the situation is as it appears to be. We must personally initiate our own healing. We must share our need for light in our darkness with all whom we can reach. As James tells us in his letter, we should pray and “Call for the elders of the church and have them pray over [us].” We have a responsibility in our own healing. We must inform our community about our situation and ask for support. No matter what the outcome, our seeking the nearness of God through the Body of Christ will place us where we need to be, and all will be well.
As members of the Body of Christ, we must recognize this need in ourselves and in others. Our prayers and support are critical to each other. Many of us are reluctant to seek prayer support in an intentional way. We must show each other how the light of life works by praying to God that He will shine it through each of us. Our challenges are to seek this light for ourselves and by the Grace of God use it on each other. If Patrick could Christianize Ireland through his faith and submission to God and Christ, can’t we get a little intentional in our lives?
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.