This is a story of one such night.
Most every week we stop by the Parque Nacional, a public park across the street from Costa Rica's highest court house. A group of young men, ages 14 to 21, stand on a corner of this park.
Last week we stopped and visited five young men who were glad for conversation, a cup of té frio and some cookies. After we chatted or rather they gossiped with us for about 20 minutes, we decided to ask them if anyone had anything they wanted us to pray with them about.
In the group was a young man we had not seen before. His name was Jon and he looked very sad. Typically, these young men laugh and joke a lot, covering up their pain and insecurities of which there are many. Jon could not hide his pain. He sat on the damp, stone steps leading into the park with his head bent low. Jon was quiet, not saying a word or laughing.
When we asked if someone wanted to pray, Jon instantly raised his hand and practically jumped off the step on which he was sitting. Once he realized what he had done, he recoiled in embarrassment and offered to let everyone else to go first.
We assured him that we had time for him as well as the others. One of our team took Jon aside, as he told her about his the weariness of his life and how he wanted to get off the streets. "I am just tired," he said. "I can't do this any more."
We did not know Jon's exact age but we are guessing he is about 17 years old.
While Anabel was praying with Jon, the rest of us prayed with a few of the others. Among them was Daniel. We have visited with Daniel on several occasions but he never seemed interested in praying or establishing a relationship with any of us. He was always one of those who were good at covering up his pain with joking or laughter.
This night, however, he was not laughing at all when he asked us to pray with him. As he told us about his mother being in the hospital, tears danced at the edge of his eyes. "I am tired," he said. "I can't do this any more."
Daniel is 21. He has been standing on this corner since was 14 years old.
My heart was heavy. All that week I prayed for Jon and Daniel. Their words "I am tired" rang through my head over and over. Young men I know do not typically fall in exhaustion unless they have been playing a long game of soccer or running a race. The only young men I know are full of energy with life full before them.
In response to my cries, God took me to a scripture that I had seen many times but had new meaning and a profound impact.
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding
He gives power to the weak
and strength the to powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
After I read this scripture, I wept for our friends and then God spoke very clearly. He told me He knew these young men and countless others when He gave these words to Isaiah. He had these young men in His eyes and He cares for them. "Help them see Me," He said.
Before we ended the conversation with Daniel, he told us, "Is there a place I can go pray?" We told him about the coffee house we are opening and it is going to be for him and that it will be a place to pray. "I will be there when it opens" he said.
So we know the task we have before us. We hope to see these young men soar high on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and no faint. But right now that seems impossible to them and us, but our Lord is the everlasting God, creator of all the earth!
The names in this blog are fictitious to protect the young men who are our friends.