When we ache for others, sometimes we find ourselves lost and angry and confused…at least I do…
And I can find myself so mad, just so broken-hearted and honestly it makes me want to shut my eyes and ears and close my heart to this messy world.
But the fact of the matter is, God put His heart in me.
He tore out my heart of flesh and gave me his own spirit, his own love, his own compassion…
And even as I read headlines and ache for hurting people, hurting communities, hurting moms and dads and confused and frightened children…I won’t shut it out. I won’t ignore or “move on” I will do as Jesus did…I will look with compassion and I will pray to my Father.
A wise mentor once gently pointed me to prayer in this kind of heartache…she said “Jess, just like when we fast and we let the pain of hunger remind us to pray we take the heartache we feel for others and we let it remind us to pray.” So today I will pray.
And hang with me here… I don’t have time today to write my thoughts out well so forgive me…but sometimes important things just need to be said.
We have some choices to make. When we see our broken world, we can become cynical, self-righteous, and lose hope.
Or…we can shut our eyes and ears and ignore.
But there is a third way…we can also pray.
But may they be prayers that connect our hears and our souls with our eyes and ears….may what we see and hear drive us to align our hearts with God’s heart through prayer.
And I worry because there are a lot of cynics out there. The book “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller says, “Many of us believe in the Christian hope of ultimate redemption, but we breathe the cynical spirit of our age and miss the heart of God.”
You know what? When we know the character of God and we see his response to generation after generation of sinful hurting people, Miller reminds us that “God is not cynical in the face of evil. He loves.”
So pray today. Pray tomorrow. Let prayer change you. Let your heart be soft. Don’t fear the hurt, anger and compassion…let it in…because if your heart changes and something deep in you begins to understand God’s heart, we will begin to see glimpses of our future hope. We will become a people who will point to the only deeper reality that can fix, heal, and redeem.
Paul Miller also point his readers to certain kinds of prayer that guard us against cynicism…prayers of repentance and prayers of thanksgiving.
He says, “Cynicism looks reality in the face, calls it phony, and prides itself on its insight as it pulls back. Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God’s care. It replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.”
Do I need to repent? (Obviously the answer is always yes.)
Do you need to repent?
Is there a prejudice and callousness and a judgmental and critical spirit…or perhaps just a selfishness, an apathy…a self-focus in our lives that we MUST confess? You know a critical spirit can be sneaky…you don’t have to be a grumpy old curmudgeon to have a critical spirit. A critical spirit often hides behind a smile, it lurks behind good deeds, it masquerades as kindness. Be so careful not to let a critical spirit take root.
Oh, there is so much to say here…
But but let me simply end with this thought and quote from Miller’s book:
“Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness. You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift. Thankfulness isn’t a matter of forcing yourself to see the happy side of life. That would be like returning to naive optimism. Thanking God restores the natural order of our dependence on God. It enables us to see life as it really is.”
So this week, as our nation turns to a collective gathering of giving thanks…may we truly pray with this spirit of thankfulness…not just for our couch and football game and our turkey and whatever it is…
Let us pray with thanksgiving that admits our dependence on God. Let’s pray with thanksgiving and yield our hearts to tender compassion and true repentance…and when that spirit leads us to act in our own circle of influence in our own neighborhoods…then we act with the very power of God.
And I’m not sure if any of this is a complete thought, but thank you for grace…and to be honest…the sun is shining warm and bright today in my part of the world–but I will choose to remember that in other parts of this world there are very dark places. I urge you to pray for those overcome with or battling the dark.
Singing His Grace,