From Sean. June 26, 2010.

I arrived at the hospital today just as Steve was saying goodbye to a beloved friend. I left the hospital a few hours later as Steve and Michelle were enjoying time with friends visiting from New York. In between, other beloved friends from Manila also stopped by. It was Sunday, a rest day, and while Steve’s rest is still a priority, he just loves people.

Steve and Michelle are rich in friends. And I know firsthand that many of these friends are quite different from one another; they are from diverse parts of the globe, with different languages, cultures, personalities, and even different faiths. There are no doubt multiple reasons why so many have chosen to surround the Ruetschles with unceasing prayer, kindness, and generosity. Lately I’ve been thinking of just one of those reasons.

In one form or another, most every website comment, guestbook-or-facebook post, letter written, or personal visit has included some assurance of prayer. Or many times, actual prayer. Thousands around the world regularly stop and pray for Steve; interceding on his behalf. Some write in, claiming to know exactly what God is going to do for Steve; others are not so sure; but in every case they are all generously and passionately interceding for him.

Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, in his book “Beginning to Pray”, wrote:

“Interceding does not mean reminding God of things he has forgotten to do. It is placing ourselves at the heart of a troubled situation…. We often intercede. We pray to God to be merciful and kind to those in need. But intercession is more than this.”

“Intercede” comes from the Latin, intercedere, meaning literally to “go between.”

Metropolitan Bloom goes on to talk about presence. That,

“being present in the heart of a troubled situation alters it profoundly because God is then present with us through our faith. Wherever we are, at home with our family, with friends when a quarrel is about to begin, at work or even simply in the street… we can recollect ourselves and say, ‘Lord I believe in you, come and be among us’. And by this act of faith… we can intercede with God who has promised his presence when we ask for it.”

This last week of Steve’s physical rehab has been, well, incredible. Each day brought something new… movement from a toe; the wiggle of a finger; a trip to the zoo; the ability to lift a leg ever so slightly. These small movements have been very encouraging for Steve (for everyone!). And yet in context (and without diminishing the encouragement!) this is still “a troubled situation“.

So often, when tragedy strikes people respond with the most common of phrases… “I can’t imagine…”. Personally, when hearing that phrase I often doubt the truth of it. As I see it, people actually have rather remarkable imaginations. We can, in fact, imagine a great deal. And when we can imagine, we can be present with just that much more compassion and capacity.

With many of the out-of-town (or out-of-country) guests who have come to visit Steve, there are moments when… in order not to develop pressure sores, Steve has to be turned in his bed by the nurses; or he has to be hoisted out of bed in a sling and placed in his wheelchair; or his catheter bag has to be emptied; or he’s so tired that he needs someone to feed him. Without fail the friends in the room are gracious, strong, and kind in the moment, but I can see in their eyes that they are in fact imagining Steve’s (and his family’s) suffering. And they not only imagine, but also clearly choose to place themselves in the heart of a troubled situation, in order to intercede on his behalf with both their presence and their prayer.

Many around the world have said that they are praying for Steve because in one way or another he “interceded”… placed himself in the heart of a troubled situation… for them. “Prayer is the end of isolation.” We carry one another’s burdens. And whether it’s a little girl in Indonesia, or a pastor in Uganda, or a business owner in Seattle, or a professor in the Philippines, or a sunday school class in Tokyo, or a mom and dad in Ohio; a community of people around the world has been formed to help carry Steve’s burdens through prayer.

And ultimately, it’s not the “power of prayer” that must not be underestimated; it is the power of the One who is love, and who so loved the world, and who’s presence alters each of us as we intercede for one another, wherever or whoever we are, in all of our mutual suffering and vulnerability.

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  • Helen Ackerman

    Thank You Sean for sharing this insight – am sure it will definitely help me go through troubled situations now and in the future ……

    • Kim

      Hi Helen, just curious, are you related to Julie Ackerman?

      • Helen Ackerman

        Sorry no, am Filipino Chinese, married to an American

  • McNicholsterry

    This is a truly amazing post Sean. Thanks for all you've done for this family and for helping to carry their burdens!

  • Susieobrian

    AMEN and AMEN.

  • Roger and Jerri Oliver

    How beautifully stated.

    We are joyful with every success and yet we know there is still a long road yet untraveled.
    Be assured, our prayers continue to be unceasing for Steve, Michelle and their precious little boys.
    In addition, prayers for strength and encouragement are lifted up on behalf of the entire Ruetschle family.
    Being a parent or sibling in this situation is to be inextricably involved. Their courage, strength and love for our Lord Jesus Christ continues to inspire all of us.

    With love and thanksgiving for HIS all encompassing love and care,

    Roger and Jerri Oliver

  • Heather Ruetschle

    As I think of Christ interceding for me – from the payment made for me on the cross and the curtain being torn at the moment of His death – to Him seated on the throne now in Heaven interceding for me – this is what carries me through. My true riches are Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen.

  • Metzgar

    Who are you, Sean?? What insight and powerful “reporting” you provide for all of us! Thank you so much. Am sure you are immensely appreciated by all the Ruetschles, too.

    Hugs for, love to, and prayers for Steve and family.

    Dick and Ann in OH

  • Canucks Lorrie Joke

    Sean – thank you, beautifully written!!! God bless you as you walk with Steve and Michelle.
    Joke in Manila

  • Bob & Carol Kuiken

    Just finished a book called “The Boy who Came Back from Heaven”. It was a very real picture of the part that prayer plays to sustain the family and all of those affected by this crisis. As we were flying back to the Philippines in that semi-sleep state we continued to pray for all of you. My main prayer was the God would continue to be glorified through this difficult situation as we see His hand at work in so many provisions and miracles and for His strength in the time of weakness and His rest in the time of distress. We love you. Bob & Carol Kuiken

  • Sarah

    Thanks, Sean. I sometimes struggle with this concept of intercession – God doesn't need me to remind Him of His children in pain. But He calls us to it and as you said, His “presence alters each of us as we intercede for one another.” And so I continue to pray for Steve and his family.
    Sarah Booker in TX

  • Shehuy93

    Amen and amen. Love it all, esp the last paragraph. I continue to intercede and am blessed to do so.