One force that animates our public life is grief—the loss or the perceived loss of a world that was dear to us. Many of us quietly grieved the passing of George H. W. Bush: He reminded some of us, perhaps, of parents and grand-parents who fought in a war that seemed to make sense and in whose courage and patriotism we found value. For other mourners, he may have represented an era of graciousness, bi-partisan cooperation, and moral stability that seems to have disappeared.
Grief is not always quiet. It can also make us angry. We grieve the loss of a socially familiar world, or of cherished institutions, or of promised inclusion, or of traditional values, or of adequate income, or of benefits we once enjoyed. Because these losses are often real, the grief can be great; and because the grief is great, we cast about for someone to blame and—once found—demonize.
God knows our griefs and promises us joy in due time. But he also knows that the causes of our grief are never simple. He invites our tears but urges patience as we work towards solutions. He urges us to love our neighbors, to seek to understand the griefs that animate them, the griefs that may even make them angry with us.
- Thank the Lord that he knows our losses as one who has shared them.
- Speak to him specifically of the losses that break your heart.
- Pray for empathy—for the grace to understand and embrace the sorrows of others, especially those whose politics differ from yours.
Our great God and Redeemer, how thankful we are that you know our griefs and that you share them. You know that the world is not what it should be, for you have lived among us. You lost your reputation, your following, your dignity, your freedom, even your clothes. You gave up your life and your standing, even your Father, carrying our sins into outer darkness.
Our losses are real, but we can bear them when we recall yours, and when we recall that you endured them so that you could bring us home rejoicing when all is said and done. In the meantime, console us by your Spirit, and give to us his patience as we seek to love our neighbors. Give us special love and empathy for those neighbors whose griefs make them blind to ours. Help us to love them as we wish they would love us. Help us, together with them, to find common cause, to bind up one another’s wounds, to make our world a better place.
We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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This reflection was produced exclusively for our blog, but it follows the same format as our Twelve Weeks of Prayer email series.
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