Summary: Jesus instructs us to pray for workers in the harvest field; are we answering the prayer?
“You are the Answer to Your Own Prayer”
In the book A Generation Alone one of the authors worked extensively with Vietnam Vets, recovering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
PTSD is a condition resulting from a stressful incident which is beyond our normal functional range of human experience…
…such as combat, terrorism, torture, rape, violence, or other long-term extreme experiences.
Entire generations of soldiers show signs of PTSD.
Author William Mahedy writes about college students he works with who show signs of many of the same PTSD symptoms.
He explains that such high percentages of young people have endured traumas of abandonment due to divorce, psychological or sexual abuse, overexposure to media violence, being brought up in homes which are infested with drugs, and it appears that we have bred a PTSD generation.
Mahedy says, “I can find no other explanation for the widespread problems with stability, self-image, feelings of emptiness, depression, suicidal thinking, fear of the future, and lack of hope among the young.”
He said that “Abandonment is the fundamental component of these disorders…the young have been abandoned by parents, loved ones, teachers, political leaders, even the culture itself.
No one is really ‘there’ for them now…
More than any of their predecessors, they have been since birth a generation alone.”
And as the church, I believe we are called to create a culture of connection for people who are alone.
People value connections with others above everything else, and since Christianity is about relationships—with God and others—what better group is there to create a culture of connection for people who are alone than the Church?
We have both a great responsibility and a great privilege at this time in history and in this particular location.
In his book The Rise of Christianity sociologist Rodney Stark describes how Christianity went from being such a small group to the dominant religion in such a short period of time.
He shows that there were two huge and terrible epidemics during the first few centuries.
And if those who were affected were cared for—there was a good chance they would survive.
But often when a member of someone’s family got the disease, the other family members—in fear—left that person uncared for and left their homes for other places.
The Christians, however, didn’t do this.
They cared for their own family members and also cared for those who were left behind by their family members.
And that willingness to suffer in order to care for the sick had a part to play in large numbers of people turning to Christ.
People respond to love!
This past week I was having a conversation with a friend when I asked him if he and his wife were trying to have a baby.
His answer, “We’re not--not trying.”
And then he added, “But the thought of having a child scares me to death!”
I told him that it is the greatest experience in life, and that he will be amazed that he is able to love another human being as much as he will love his own child.
And then I added, “And it only gets better and better the older they become.”
To this, my friend said, “I really love my dog. He’s always so happy to see me. He loves me so much. I love the way he jumps up into my lap.”
And I was thinking, “Boy we sure do respond positively to love.”
How are we doing, as Christians, at loving…not only one another…but also those outside the fold?
In our Scripture passage for this morning we are told that “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd…”
Not much has changed.
The word used for “compassion” here is the strongest word for pity in the Greek language.
It describes the compassion which moves people to the depths of their being.
Jesus, our Lord and our God, was moved to the depths of His being when He saw crowds of ordinary human beings.
And so Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
In other words, the people were eager and ready for God’s Kingdom, but they didn’t know where to look to find it.
They were ready and waiting for God to act, but who would tell them that this action was already taking place?
It’s really interesting.
Outside of the Lord’s Prayer itself, Jesus doesn’t very often tell us what to pray for, but this time He does.
“Go to the Farmer,” He says, “and beg him to send workers to bring in the harvest.”