I went for a walk by the lake this morning. I had intended on going for a run but my back (that I had hurt earlier this week) cried out in disapproval when I tried to run. But I found myself grateful for the opportunity to take in my surroundings slowly as I traded my techno for sweet hymns and Rachmaninoff. My thoughts turned to Mosul, Iraq as I stared out at sparkling water reflecting a perfectly blue sky. What a contrast. Depravity and Luxury. A gaggle of Saturday morning joggers and bikers versus worn-down buildings spilling out with displaced and terrified people. I don’t think God leads us to feel guilty for our blessings, but He’s pretty clear about weeping with those who weep and lifting up fellow believers when they are too tired, harassed, and grieving to lift up their heads. So, I prayed.
I pray for my brothers and sisters who are in unimaginable pain right now. Oh God be their comfort. Draw them to you in all of this. Just as Joseph endured terrible hardships at the hands of his own brothers but was then made a man of influence and peace, so too I ask you use this evil for good. God you are the only one who can redeem this.
No amount of humanitarian aid or missile strikes can quell hatred or bring back loved ones who were massacred. God I ask for you, in this moment, to meet with my brothers and sisters in Iraq.
I know you love them more than I do. I know you know them more than I do. I know you understand their pain and horror more than I do. And I ask that you intervene. Oh God would you protect those who have fled? Would you give them their daily bread? Would you fill them with the peace that surpasses the terrifying numbness of horror and suffering?
Place them on the hearts of the global church. God may we be a faithful people, a faithful family.
So many things divide your church, God. So many theologies and sects and “do this” and “not that” and “be this” and “say that”‘s. So many stupid stupid nuances. Oh God would we lay those aside today! Compel us Lord to clasp hands with anyone who loves you. Anyone. That we may all look to the day where political persuasions and denominational divisions are laid waste at the Kingdom Table. Where we will all sing to You. Rejoicing in the sacrifice of Jesus, delighting in the Presence of our Father. Thank you, God. That today, when wicked men did the unthinkable because they are so consumed with hatred, that their violence ultimately led our brothers and sisters to peace. Evil ushered them into eternal rest. Thank you that your grace welcomes them. Thank you that they fought the good fight. Thank you that because of Jesus we can know that this isn’t it. Thank you that you are a God who feels pain, who understands betrayal, who was wrapped in skin and once slaughtered on our behalf.
Oh God we ask all of this evil to stop. We ask for your intervention, your redemption in all of this. But even if today doesn’t mark the end of these horrors may we be unapologetically faithful to tell the world that there will be a day when evil has no place among God’s children. That you have made a way out of this madness, this broken world. That death does not get the final word for all who believe in Jesus. We beseech you for deliverance of our family. We look to the skies for your return. And we absolutely believe that you are good. Oh God forgive us our unbelief and make us more desperate for you. Remind us this world is temporary so that we may not sacrifice our convictions for comforts nor our purposes for pride or power.
So many people are hurting today God. People we don’t even see. Our scope is limited to the news, Your eyes see the souls of every human being. The forgotten and discarded and marginalized. The martyred and persecuted and small. Oh God thank you. Thank you that you see and know and care and love. Thank you that you made a way for us to find you. That eternal life is accessible for anyone. Even when we try and put up hoops to jump through or things to say, you always break it back down to grace. Grace. Believe that God really does love you so much that He gave His Son for you. That you may not die but have a forever in paradise.
Help us not to mistake this world for paradise. God I pray that you would find me to be faithful. Even in all of my issues and problems and insecurities and wayward thoughts and sour attitudes, use me. Please use me to bring your Son to people.
I can say all of this, knowing it’s heard by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.
Let it be so.
I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you to do the same. To pray. To plead. And to remember that hope is not lost in the midst of horrors, it is instead, the only thing that can withstand it.