The Family Who Lived in a Black Hole

old-window-163170_640One day, I stepped into a black hole, a pit, a kind of darkness from which few escape, a rural ghetto that before I entered, I could not imagine anyone calling home.

But someone did.

A family lived inside but they’d forgotten they were a family, nearly forgotten they were human or of worth to anyone. The smallest of them was suffering from this amnesia.

So, they set her free.

Not without tears, not without coercion, not without wanting to climb back into the hole forever, but they did it. They saved the youngest one and allowed authorities to take her from the black hole to live in the light.

At that moment, my services ended. Without the child in the home, I was barred from helping them even though they were little more than children themselves. What’s in a number? Sometimes continuing to have birthdays does not indicate one has passed into adulthood.

I was devastated.

I couldn’t forget the pit in which they lived.

Surrounded by farmland, woodland, parks, and small town life, they survived in a forgotten slum certain to collapse during the next stiff breeze. I couldn’t get them out of my thoughts, off my heart, out from under my skin.

I was helpless to save them from this darkness – or was I?

It bothers me when people say, “All we can do now is pray.” It irritates me, that phrase, and I respond to it with judgment and indignation.

“What do you mean all we can do is pray? That’s like saying all we can do is bring it before the highest power in the universe! That’s not nothing, it’s everything!”

I say that. I preach it. It sounds good. And some days I believe it. But then, I stepped into a black hole and met a family who had forgotten they were human and prayers felt like trying to spit out a forest fire or counter a hurricane with a hand fan or override a thunderstorm with a whisper.

But, I encountered them around the time that Sheldon Cooper taught me to pray and I imagined that was no coincidence so I wrote their names on my calendar and committed to pray for them for forty days and forty nights (seemed Biblical).

I prayed. And, I asked a friend to pray as well. And every time I prayed for my own family (which is every day, throughout the day), I prayed for this family as well.

At first, I prayed with fervor and confidence but as the days wore on, I wavered. I doubted. But still, even with my doubts, I prayed. And sometimes, when I saw their names, I thought about their darkness and not just their darkness but the complexity of escaping it, the number of factors, dynamics, and changes that would have to occur for them to be free and to be a functioning family once more. The odds. I thought about the odds. I saw the odds as tall castle walls. This sometimes slowed my prayers but then I thought about Jericho and I marched around them with prayers.

I remembered John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (ESV) And that is what I prayed. “Lord, please rescue this little family from the darkness and deliver them into the light. Overcome their darkness with Your light.”

I ran into one of them after several weeks of prayer but she was still in the dark. It was discouraging but I saw a spark – not from her exactly but in the exchange – her desire for hope touched me and I hit my knees again.

I didn’t believe it every day I prayed it but I prayed it still. And when the forty days ended, I felt the Spirit of God urge me to pray another forty more. And sometime in the midst of that, I thought, ah, so this is what faith feels like in the dark. It’s not a comfort, it’s like a ridge carved into a stone wall – something to cling to as one feels one’s way towards the light.

This week, I saw the young mother of this family. Smiling. No small thing, that. And a miracle has occurred.

She remembers, now, she’s a mom, and a good one when she’s not living in a hole. Oh, and they’ve escaped the hole. And not just their family. All the families in that condemned shack have been relocated. No one will die there now in an unfortunate fire or drown there any longer in alcohol or cry themselves to sleep there at night.

This little family has found their way into a place of light. People came alongside them – unusually committed to them, uncommonly kind, generous beyond expectations. The youngest one has been the first to thrive but the others have followed.

Soon they will be under one roof again. On their way toward wholeness, happiness, health, and a future.

Prayer.

Steadfast prayer.

The work and ministry of intercession.

Absolutely nuclear.

God loves to respond to it. To show us amazing things through it. To free people living in darkness into the light.

There are faces in my mind now of humans who had forgotten they were people but who now remember they’re even more. They have value. They are capable. They have love to give and to receive.

I thought I was called to do something for them and was devastated when my way was barred. Instead, I learned I was called to intercede for them and witness God at work on a miracle of deliverance.

He wanted to do something for them and He let me watch. Truly amazing.

Are you ready to be amazed? Pray and don’t stop until God tell you to.

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4 Comments

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  1. A powerful lament. Thank you for reminding us all of the power of prayer in the lives of real people, recipient and participant.

  2. OH Lori, I cried through this. What a great testimony to the power of prayer. My stomach turns when I hear, “I guess we just have to pray.” I feel like pulling my hair out. I have seen miracles from being on my knees. Thank you for this. If you need a prayer partner I am here. I want to be part of what God is doing. Storming the gates of heaven on behalf of another is a privilege we get to go before the Throne of the Almighty and He hears us.

  3. What can be more powerful than praying to the One who spoke creation into existence? God acts when His people pray!

  4. Carla says:

    I too had been convicted by the ‘All I can do is pray’. The old song says ‘What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer’. We are PRIVILEGED to have the Power of Prayer! As we go earnestly and boldly before the Throne of Grace, we are given insight into how to pray for a particular circumstance. My prayers have changed radically in my walk, or maybe it’s ME who has changed, probably the latter. As we speak specifically to a situation, Power is given to the warring spirits fighting the evil. As we start out praying about something, it IS kind of generic, because we don’t have the full scope of the situation. As we continue to pray, Abba starts giving us little glimpses into the specifics and we can pray more effectively towards the end goal. ‘Oh Lord, help them’ is replaced by ‘Abba, bring Truth, bring hope, rebuke the spirits that hold this family in bondage, heal broken hearts that have been torn apart by sin!’, then it goes from there.

    We have been given ALREADY every tool needed to do warfare. Prayer and fasting are the BEST tools in our toolbox. God bless you as you continue to work with the world’s unlovelies. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. Those are the ones He calls us to rescue.