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A Prayer to Be Courageous

Because he lives, we can face tomorrow. Life is worth the living, just because he lives.

Those lines from Bill & Gloria Gaither’s song “Because He Lives“ have been sung by believers across generations and locations far and wide. Nearly every time the words provide tremendous comfort to those within earshot.

But when lives are taken, we sometimes wonder if he’s worth it. When lives are abused and destroyed by sin, we sometimes wonder if he’s worth it. Doesn’t he care? Isn’t he there?

In the last couple of weeks…

An 18 year old live streamed his assault rifle attack intended to kill black people. 10 people lost their lives.

Just because he lives?

Last Sunday, the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination our church is part of, released a report that detailed decades of sexual abuse cover-ups that had occurred across all kinds of churches and organizations in our denomination. Victims who had been mischaracterized, shamed, and even badgered for coming forward were finally heard while prominent leaders were finally exposed.

Just because he lives?

Tuesday in Texas, 19 children and 2 adults lost their lives as an 18 year old went on a shooting spree in an elementary school after shooting his own grandmother.

Just because he lives?

We talk about all of this as we approach Memorial Day. A day set apart to remember soldiers who lost their lives fighting wars. Wars that guaranteed freedom for many - for you and me - and yet wars nonetheless.

Just because he lives?

How should we respond? What should we pray? And as many rightly challenge - what are we to do? May I suggest that we respond with empathetic humility?

Scripture tells us to weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. Empathize. This is crucial because without empathy we rush to unhelpful actions.

So let us mourn with our black brothers and sisters who lost friends and family in Buffalo. May we weep with those victims of sexual abuse who have wept through the years and continue to do so as their stories are stirred up again and again. Help us Lord to simply be sad, to grieve, with the parents who have lost children. May we be willing to sit with friends and family this weekend who have lost soldiers in war.

And as we empathize, mourning, weeping, grieving, lamenting, Lord, cultivate in us a humility that realizes we have within ourselves the same capacity and inclination to sin.

It is only the strength of the Spirit given to us in God’s grace that preserves and purifies us - and he does that day by day, moment by moment.

Help us Lord, to respond in empathetic humility.

But what should we pray?

The disciples asked Jesus that question once. His reply?

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

We must start with prayer. God’s passion for justice and righteousness would make even the most passionate advocate look silly. We need Him.

But the cry of many, perhaps even the cry of your heart, is that we must not only pray. We must also ACT. What are we to do?

As Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure from earth he made this statement in John 16:33: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.””

Because he lives we can not only face tomorrow - we can do it courageously. Each of us must be courageous in the face of such devastating suffering. For some that means courageously engaging with lawmakers and political leaders. For some, that means courageously empathizing with people we may never meet - being willing to engage the pain they feel. Something our culture looks down upon. Any sense of mercy is interpreted as a political statement - we must courageously weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. For all of us, it means courageously sharing the hope of Jesus with people we encounter. It means making strangers friends and friends family through the grace and power of Jesus Christ. As we courageously challenge people to be changed by Jesus we change our world - one person at a time. In one sense, if people are the problem, we know the solution to their changed heart and we need to get busy sharing Him.

With empathetic humility, may we resist the urge to point fingers and instead point people to Jesus - when he changes a heart, we’ve found a worthy start.

I want to invite you to a time of reflective prayer to those ends. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you - to change you - so that you might take on the courage given by God himself.

Holy Spirit, would you help us to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn?

Jesus, we plead with you to come again. Come quickly Lord! May your kingdom come! Until then, would you show me just now who I am withholding forgiveness from?

Father, you give us peace through your Son, whom you sent to conquer the world. Would you now also give me courage? Would you speak clearly and specifically to my heart how I might be more courageous in the roles and situations you have placed me in?



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