This past Monday, Charlotte and I were getting ready for the short drive to Covenant Harbor to attend the Central Conference Pastor’s & Spouse’s Annual Retreat when I heard the news of the Las Vegas massacre. The worse mass shooting in modern U.S. history had occurred late Sunday night, October 1st. I felt sick to my stomach as I listened to the news reports.
The despair of yet another heinous act of random violence lingered with me throughout the retreat. On Wednesday night, our first night back from the retreat, I woke up in the middle of the night with an ache in my heart. I knew the source of that pain – the cumulative burden of living in a broken world.
Las Vegas – the untold suffering from natural and devastating disasters in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas – Charlottesville – sabre rattling regarding North Korea – these overwhelmed my need for sleep. As I fought to fall back to sleep, it occurred to me that these were only the tragedies of which I was most acutely aware. How many more people have been executed on a single day in the South Sudan civil war or died in the resulting famine? Even though these and other atrocities are removed from our headlines, the suffering in other parts of the world is no less devastating or tragic.
As I lay in my bed, I began to pray the Lord’s Prayer. I said it over and over. Several times, I found it hard to continue after “…thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” The same was true when I came to the part “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
God, deliver us from the evil in this world! God, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Praying these phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, as equal parts lament and desperate petition, helped. Turning to the Lord in prayer reassured me that God had not abandoned us. Through prayer I was reminded that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:38-39) and even though the burden of our broken world was still heavy on my heart, I was able to fall back asleep.
In these days, we need to pray and pray fervently. We need to pray in order to survive. We need to pray in order to continue to have hope. We need to pray in order to find the courage to live an ethic of love and justice. We need to pray in order to be reminded that evil, sin, death and the devil will not have the last word. The cross and the empty tomb was their death knell and when Jesus returns, their remaining destructive power in our world will be finally and completely destroyed.
So, let’s pray… and let’s pray together. I invite you to come to our Chapel this Monday, October 9th at 7:30 PM and join in a special one evening prayer gathering. We will pray for our world. We will pray for our military, especially those in our congregation actively serving. We will pray for peace. We will pray for police, fire and first responders. We will pray for justice.
The burden of a broken world need not break us. But to be strong and remain faithful in these discouraging days requires that we pray.