The Prayers of a Heart that Hurts


Guten tag, meine Freunde. 🙂

I hope you find yourselves well at this very eerie point in history in which we witness the coronavirus pandemic sweep the globe.

Is it not odd? Does it not feel a bit apocalyptic? Dystopian, even? Just a bit?

In my corner of the world, I’m currently not leaving my house unless I aboslutely have to, and most of everything I do happens inside my bedroom, so I’ll not be walking the streets any time soon. We’ve stocked up on food, tried to scavenge as much toilet paper as we can, and are rationing every edible morsel within the house.

I’ve never lived through anything quite this radical before, and it fills me with anxiety and with awe as I witness history in the making.

Perhaps I’m a bit too melodramatic, but you’ve no idea how this entire ordeal has shaken me awake. I’m still trying to understand how it’s come to this…and how things have escalated so rapidly.

I remember reading about a strange virus in Wuhan in January, wondering how the people of China would cope with and overcome this strange disease…and now I’m wondering how the whole world is going to cope with it.

I’m not afraid for myself, mind you. I’m not afraid of catching this virus, and if I do, I know that I’ll recover. Do I have anxieties for my own health? In all honesty, I do not.

It’s when I consider the lives of the elderly, the infirm, and the incredibly young that the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

And is it my fault that my heart hurts for people? That my insides squirm when I realize just what is going on? I couldn’t help it even if I tried.

It is not for myself that I feel such pain and such anxiety, but for the entire world that is suffering under the weight of this intense pandemic: for the Chinese, the Italians, the Americans, the Germans, the Africans, the Filipinos, the Russians, the Swiss, the Egyptians…for everyone who feels the weight.

Because so many people feel that weight so much more than I do.

I don’t care about how low the risk is for me. I care about how high it is for others, and how frightened are the souls of millions around the globe at this very moment.

It makes my heart hurt.

So when I sat in my little moon chair early Friday morning with a cup of Earl Grey tea in my hand, Ludovico Einaudi playing in my room, and my treasured book of female saints in my lap, I tried to reconcile the feelings in my heart with the words of my God.

And I read about St. Monica of Hippo.

St. Monica of Hippo was the mother of the famous St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest fathers in church history. Studying his writings this past year in literature was incredibly fascinating, especially his book Confessions.

But not many people realize that St. Augustine could never have been who he was without his dear mother, St. Monica.

Augustine was a wild prodigal for the majority of his adolescence and young adulthood. And during all of this, there was one person whose heart continually hurt for him. Her heart was in a constant state of anxiety for him, and she cried at his anguish, disquiet, and recklessness.

And that person was his mother Monica.

The pain in her heart only multiplied her prayers, and Monica was so fervent in her supplications that she even had visions of Augustine’s redemption. The hope of his salvation, his peace, and his healing kept her on her knees, and even when Augustine heartlessly abandoned her and sailed away for Rome, she continued to pray for the one who made her heart weep.

Nevertheless, she followed him to Rome, being the good mother that she was, hoping to find him a good wife.

Augustine, however, was now the father of an illegitimate son whom he had conceived with his long-time mistress. Instead of letting this situation drive him into despair, he named the infant Adeodatus, which means “gift from God.” Finally realizing the folly of his early years, Augustine praised God for his son, but chose to remain celibate and consecrate the remainder of his days to Christ and his church.

…much to Monica’s joy.

But it honestly strikes me when I realize that if Monica’s heart had never hurt for her dear son, we might not have some of the greatest literary works of Christian theology or one of the most influential stories in church history.

A hurting heart, a bleeding heart, and a heart that feels for the woes of another is the kind of heart that will incessantly pray. It is the kind of heart that will do whatever it can to lighten the burden of another. It is the kind of heart that will make a difference…even the smallest difference in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve been telling my mother of how incredibly small I feel in the face of everything. I don’t mean that simply because I’m only five-foot-three; I mean it because of how small I feel in the face of my future, in the face of this pandemic, in the face of my lonely friends and my downtrodden society.

I’m so small. My heart is so small. But the smallness of my heart is riddled with hurt, and the prayers I offer up from it are so much bigger than I can ever imagine.

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.

Charles Dickens

I may not be coming out with the vaccine for COVID-19, but I am telling my elderly neighbors and grandparents that I am here for them. I am loving my family, laughing with my friends over the phone, and trying to give everyone an idea of how much they mean to me and how much they mean to the God who made them.

And I am praying for the world as it spirals into a state of chaos. I pray for the ones I love, and their names are on my lips every morning as I sit in my little moon chair.

I can’t help the fact that my heart hurts, but sometimes a hurting heart is the most powerful of motivators in a battle where every little victory counts. I can’t help the fact that the world is a ridiculously insane place, but sometimes the way my heart grieves is the most powerful of incentives to spur me into fervent intercession.

And like St. Monica, I won’t stop praying for the souls, for the places, and for the planet that makes my heart grieve. Because God knows that one day I will see things put right, and every litle prayer and every little hug and every little encouragement that I throw into the mess of humanity is having more of an impact than I will ever be allowed to understand.

And isn’t that a beautiful thought?

Bis bald,

Emily 🙂

P.S. I do apologize if this post was a bit more “moody” than my usual lighthearted tromp through a fandom or a literary masterpiece! Next week there is a much more upbeat post planned…this coronavirus business has just taken over my brain, and I needed to write about it at some point. *bows*

3 thoughts on “The Prayers of a Heart that Hurts

  1. I’ve lost my copy of Augustine’s Confessions. I don’t know how, where, or why, but it’s gone and I’m not happy about it.

    I appreciate your heart for the world during this hectic time.
    bi ann an deagh shlĂ inte, as the Scots say.

    1. Augustine’s Confessions is a fantastic book. I don’t have a copy myself, but it’s about time I got one. I used a library copy for my studies, and I always wish I had my own copy.

      And thank you, friend! Your Scottishism is well-received! 🙂 Doesn’t it translate something similar to the German “gesundheit?” Or the English “in good health?” 😀

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