Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My soul waits for you (impatiently)

O Lord,

I am waiting for you.
I am waiting for your voice, your direction, your blessing.
Frankly, I am waiting for life to get easier.
(As if that's what you're going to do or how you're going to speak to me.)

How foolish!
Lord, teach me to wait patiently.

I guess that's what you're doing because you're making me wait
for everything: answers, direction, deliverance, comfort.
That is your blessing.  You bless me with the wait.
Grrr.

So help me wait for you--for more of your spirit,
for more of your personality, for more of your holiness.
That's what waiting will do:
bring patience, hope, and faith.
Waiting is doing something.
Waiting is growing.
Waiting is what nurtures hope and faith and love.

What will be your answer when it comes?
Redemption.
You only know how to redeem time, redeem lives, redeem mistakes.
You will redeem the wait.
Maybe without waiting, I wouldn't recognize redemption.
Maybe I'd just think I was really smart and talented and successful.
Waiting makes me look for you and see you.

Teach me to believe that while I wait.

Amen.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits more than the watchmen wait for the morning. . . . put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." Psalm 130:5-7

image by Petr Kratochvil

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Praying to the Best of Friends

Dear Friend of Sinners,

I don't know why you've befriended me,
why you're "a friend that sticks closer than a brother,"
or why you proved that there is no greater love than
a man who gives up his life for his friend.

I don't think I'm that kind of friend,
but I want to be.
Could I give up my life?

I want to be the friend who gives up time and energy for others.
I want to be the friend who cries for them in their grief
and rejoices with them in their successes,
who is never jealous or competitive,
a friend who is secure enough to include outsiders
but trustworthy enough to guard privacy.

Lord, humble me so I am willing to sacrifice for people when they need me.
Encourage me through your friendship so I don't give up trusting others.
Comfort me so I don't get used to being lonely.
Give me the friends you want me to reach.

Make me the kind of friend that you are, Jesus.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why should I thank God when I'm grieving?

Dear God of all comfort,

Thank you.

I'm grieving, but I thank You for everything.

Thank you for creating the church, which functions like a family. I can't explain how people I've never met or hardly know can send me a prayer or encouragement, and I instantly feel loved and no longer alone.

Thank you for making prayer a way to express grief, joy, fear, and frustration. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve You by serving other people. I don't know why loving someone else when I need to be loved fills an emotional hole, but it does.

Thank you for growing my faith through trials. I don't completely understand how suffering can produce joy in my life, but I see it happen all the time.

Thank you for asking me to be generous. I can't explain how we can give away so much and still pay our bills, but remarkably, it's true.

Thank you for a million other blessings--for every sunset, for every flower, for every smile, for every laugh. For exquisite tastes and smells. For the bliss of cuddling a child and kissing a spouse. I am astounded by the richness of life.

You are truly remarkable. There is no other explanation for the joy of life, except to say that You are God. You are holy, righteous, just, wise, fierce, and tender. I am in awe of You.

Thank you for that, too.

Amen.


image by MALIZ ONG

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Praying comfort over grief

Dear God of all comfort,

You get grief. It sucks, doesn't it?

Grief interrupts the joy of living and suffocates you. It's like dying but knowing you will eventually come up for air, and you will not pass out. You will live through it.

You get it. You felt grief in the sharpest way possible. You were betrayed and rejected by the object of your love and sacrifice. And then you were rejected by your Father. You bore the weight of the sins of the whole world--the horrific acts of violence, cruelty, and debauchery. You felt them and You wore them as You died.

And because You know what grief is, You are the only true comforter.

So comfort us. Spread Your peace like a quilt over the shoulders of those who grieve parents, children, and the lives they hoped to live. Give each of us hope and confidence that You have a plan for us--You will prosper and keep us in Your perfect will.

Grief is just a part of Your will. It's just not the part we wanted to experience. To understand that, give us faith. Give us a community of encouragers. Turn our gaze upward to You.

That's what grief does. Its shoves us to the surface, gasping for air, where we see You.

Ahh! You are what we needed all along.

Thank you, Jesus. Give me Your peace.

Amen.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. . . Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3-4)

image by George Hodan