We all have our stories of how this season has affected us or those we love. For us as a family we have faced difficult days and beautiful days during this time. Both my children and I lost work and income, my husband went through a biopsy, bone scan and was diagnosed with cancer and will have surgery in the coming months, and we have had to watch and pray from afar as our daughter lives in NYC, an epicenter for the disease and the violence. My momma protective heart jumped in fear when she called to tell me not to worry, in case I see her street on the news because she was watching demonstrations from her apartment window. Then she moved the next weekend in the midst of all the violence to another apartment because a roommate had moved from the city and they were left without someone to help with the rent.
Can I just say that I am learning so many lessons about trusting in God’s care in the storms of life! In the midst of all of this brokenness our everyday lives continue, the virus continues, the destruction and anger continue. I find I have few words. I can only examine my own heart, repent, pray and ask the Father to show me how to navigate these difficult days in His love and peace.
I have found myself thinking often of my father during this time. He was a quiet man of few words, great strength and integrity. He came from humble beginnings,
but worked hard to build a successful business of his own after the war. He loved my mom and us deeply and sacrificed to provide a wonderful life for us. He wasn’t perfect, but he taught me so much about how to live generously and well.
Daddy designed and built my childhood home which stood on a hill on 100 pilings in four acres of swamp land. Through all the Louisiana hurricanes and storms it stood strong and safe like the way he made me feel and like the thirty two cypress trees on the property that I played and dreamed under.
The last conversation I had with my father was about the power of forgiveness. He had such a tender heart and was wrestling with a relationship where he felt he had done wrong and we discussed how important it was to ask for forgiveness even if you felt you would not be forgiven. Dad died suddenly of a heart attack in his sixties two days after our conversation, so young. Hundreds came to his funeral, people that I didn’t know, black and white, friends, employees. They spoke to me of the life my father quietly and humbly lived, a part of his life that he had never shared with me. “Your dad came to visit me every day in the hospital for weeks, your dad paid the bail to get me out of prison, your dad wrote us all Christmas bonus checks from his personal account that year the company couldn’t pay.” He was just daddy to me. He never spoke much about his business or personal life outside of our home. That day I saw a whole other side of him, and I was so proud to be his daughter. He left a faithful legacy for the generations to come.
As I write this on Father’s Day morning, I am reminded of the verse in Micah 6:8 that daddy sought to live out and often quoted. I’m so grateful for this truth. I believe it is a beautiful Word for us to seek to live by in these uncertain times.
I sent my daughter this print by Ruth Chou Simons as a housewarming gift for her new apartment in NYC. It seems like a good reminder to hang on our walls and carry in our hearts.
Recently, I saw this beautiful prayer written by Doug McKelvey. It expresses what I cannot find the words to speak. It is lengthy, but worth the time I believe to bring our hearts before the Father in these days of such suffering. I have found the prayers and liturgy from his book Every Moment HOLY so encouraging during the last year. Sometimes it is the prayers of another that help to lead us to the heart of the Father when our hearts are too overwhelmed. As we grieve for the suffering in our nation and world you may find the prayer below helpful as I did. Perhaps we could pray it together in the days ahead.
A Liturgy for a Time of Widespread Suffering
Doug McKelvey, June 3, 2020
Christ Our King,
Our world is overtaken by unexpected
calamity, and by a host of attending fears,
worries, and insecurities.
We witness suffering, confusion, and
hardship multiplied around us, and we find
ourselves swept up in these same anxieties and
troubles, dismayed by so many uncertainties.
Now we turn to you, O God,
in this season of our common distress.
Be merciful, O Christ, to those who suffer,
to those who worry, to those who grieve, to
those who are threatened or harmed in any
way by this upheaval. Let your holy compassions
be active throughout the world even now--
tending the afflicted, comforting the
brokenhearted, and bringing hope to
many who are hopeless.
Use even these hardships to woo our hearts
nearer to you, O God.
Indeed, O Father, may these days
of disquiet become a catalyst
for conviction and repentance,
for the tendering of our affections,
for the stirring of our sympathies,
for the refining of our love.
We are your people, who are called by you,
We need not be troubled or alarmed.
Indeed, O Lord, let us love now more fearlessly,
remembering that you created us,
and appointed us
to live in these very places,
in the midst of these unsettled times.
It is no surprise to you that we are here now,
sharing in this turmoil along with the rest of
our society, for you have called your children
to live as salt and light among the nations,
praying and laboring for the flourishing of the
communities where we dwell, acting as agents of
your forgiveness, salvation, healing, reconciliation,
and hope, in the very midst of an often-troubled world.
And in these holy vocations
you have not left us helpless, O Lord,
because you have not left us at all.
Your Spirit remains among us.
Inhabit now your church, O Spirit of the Risen Christ.
Unite and equip your people for the work before them.
Father, empower your children to live as your children.
In times of distress let us respond, not as those
who would instinctively entrench for our own
self-preservation, but rather as those who—in imitation
of their Lord—would move in humble obedience toward
the needs and hurts of their neighborhoods and communities.
You were not ashamed to share in our sufferings, Jesus.
Let us now be willing to share in yours, serving
as your visible witnesses in this broken world.
Hear now these words, you children of God,
and be greatly encouraged:
The Lord’s throne in heaven is yet occupied,
his rule is eternal, and his good purposes
on earth will be forever accomplished.
So we need never be swayed by the brief and
passing panics of this age.
You are the King of the Ages, O Christ,
and history is held in your Father’s hands.
We, your people, know the good and glorious
end of this story. Our heavenly hope is secure.
In this time of widespread suffering then,
let us rest afresh in the surpassing peace of that
vision, that your whole church on earth might be
liberated to love more generously and sacrificially.
Now labor in and through us, O Lord, extending and
multiplying the many expressions of your mercy.
In humility may we seek repentance and act justly.
May we learn the healing power of forgiveness, love mercy
and always extend God’s extravagant grace.
May we know the comfort, strength and wisdom of the One
who holds us and humbly offer the love, hope and light of Christ
in these dark days of brokenness and suffering.
Resources: https://rabbitroom.com/2020/06/a-liturgy-for-a-time-of-widespread-suffering/; https://gracelaced.com - Ruth Chou Simons beautiful artwork and books; pinterest image
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