Hurricanes, Parenting, Pain, and Prayer

Prayer for Hurricane Harvey Victims.jpg

Hurricanes, earthquakes, refugees, homelessness, rumors of nuclear war, hunger, cancer, racism, pain on top of pain - it’s enough to demoralize us, to make us want to give up.

What does faith look like in times like these?  Here are three answers we've found ourselves returning to this week:

First, in Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know For Sure, she talks about difficult times that make you want to throw up your hands and holler, “Mercy!”  What Oprah knows for sure is that there is no strength without challenge, adversity, resistance, and often pain.  And, during these moments of pain on top of pain, she turns to the gospel song, “Stand.”  There Donnie McClurkin sings, “What do you do when you’ve done all you can, and it seems like it’s never enough? What do you give when you’ve given your all, and it seems like you can’t make it through?” 

The answer is clear, “You just stand.”

Second, there's a striking passage in Glennon Dolye's, Love Warrior, about parenting and pain, a passage she recently adapted as part of a SuperSoul Session that moved us to team up with Penny Dullaghan and the fine people over at OWN's SuperSoul TV to create this short film.  At its heart is the challenging idea that we can reframe what pains us as at the same time an opening to develop our strength, our wisdom, our kindness, and our resilience.

Third, the benefits of prayer are many, but one that comes to mind this week is that prayer allows us to stand together "as ten thousand" (as Maya Angelou puts it in her stunning poem, "Our Grandmothers").  And so, let us pray:

God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, you are our God and we are your people trying to stand, and grow, and pray, and believe that you are at work in the world even and especially in the valley of the shadow of death, the valley of the shadow of pain, the valley of the shadow of fear.  Hear us as we pray:

* For everyone suffering homelessness, both temporary or permanent, because of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria – that they might know the shelter of God’s compassion and care.

* For everyone in Mexico recovering from earthquake after earthquake, and for those who lost their lives – that they might be gathered in by the good shepherd who wipes away every tear from every eye.

* For those who are in hospitals, refugee camps, domestic violence shelters, and prisons – that they might be filled to the brim with God’s healing, accompanying, encouraging, and transforming love.

* For those who volunteer day in and day to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the imprisoned – that they might be crowned with many crowns on earth, as they already have been in heaven.

May our prayers rise up like incense to the one who stands with us, who shepherds us, who prays with us, who struggles with us, who dies with us, and who rises with us.

In Jesus’ sweet name, Amen.