By Beth Templeton
There have many calls to prayer during this time of crisis for individuals, our community, our city, our state, our nation, and our world. Turning to God is certainly appropriate all the time. Prayer is an essential part of faith life. But I sometimes wonder if our prayers deepen or cheapen our trust. When there is a call to prayer at a certain time on a certain day, does a piece of us believe that if enough people pray, if we say the right words, if we praise God, if we offer easy phrases, then this COVID 19 will go away? Do we question God when our prayers do not seem to work their magic? Do we begin to wonder if there IS a God and if that God truly cares?
We can honestly lament our situation and call out to God with our complaints and fears. We can join with the person who wrote more than two thousand years ago: “Why have you forgotten me” Why must I walk around mournfully?” (Psalm 42: 9) Or another: “Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble…” (Psalm 25: 17-18) We can complain and lament, while giving our heart to the promise that nothing separates us from the love of God, not death, not life, not rulers, not things present, not things to come.
The prophets of old proclaimed that God did not want our worship rituals. God cared more about how we lived, how we interacted with others, and how we cared. C. S. Lewis wrote that this kind of living is not a bargain related to keeping rules and regulations but about the choices we make. Lewis says, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.”
The choices we make now as well as when this crisis abates lead either to “joy, peace, knowledge, and power… [or] madness, horror, idiocy, rage, and impotence.“ (Mere Christianity) We choose how we will live in trust.
Let’s make our prayers authentic and honest. Let’s share with God who we really are during such times as these. Let’s give to God our hearts and then trust that that is enough.
We are coming into the Easter season with the amazing proclamation that God loves us. God took on some of the worst that humans can do to humans. Jesus cried out that he would prefer not to go through what was ahead. Jesus himself felt abandoned. And yet…yet…yet… out of all the pain, God hollered out loud: hate, violence, and death do not win. My love wins. My beautiful, steadfast, compassionate, powerful love wins. And nothing can overcome it.
During times such as these, does our faith deepen or weaken?
*Beth Templeton is Founder and CEO of Our Eyes Were Opened, Inc. is a public speaker, Presbyterian Church USA minister, and writer.