A Prayer for the Grieving, Exhausted, Doubting

To my readers, some prayers:

You who grieve, I have no trite sentimentality and saccharine to offer.

When Rachel Held Evans died, it felt like the cherry on top of a dung sundae, a different four letter word much more preferred there. The disillusioned among us are constantly wondering about the disconnect between orthodoxy and orthopraxy amongst those who also call themselves “christian,” the piled up issues of what it means to carry out our supposed common faith overwhelming and polarizing. I did not know RHE personally, but she led as a prophetess, calling anyone and everyone regardless of who they were to find themselves in the arms of Christ. I wept when I heard the news, not only because losing a life is properly lamentable, but also because the sting of everything she stood for felt even further from reach with her gone from this earth. There is no peace.

Beyond this grief, there is still yet more grief. Mother’s Day approaches as a complicated holiday for so many families, the personal grief that muddles in with communal grief, the ache of injustice abundant and the curse showing its ugly head in faces that look just like ours, and are ours.

You who are exhausted, I wish the tangible burdens you bear had a touchable place for you to lay them.

With “let go and let God” at the helm of more horrible instagram theology, it surely is easier to embrace passivity when you are praying to simply make it through the to-do list and the impossible before falling asleep at the dinner table. The loads you carry are ones too mixed together to discern which ones you are responsible for and which ones you were given or assumed responsibility for. Sometimes, self-care is a privilege, as many of us are simply unable to walk away when burnt out; the cost of alleviating exhaustion creating another cycle of catch-up.

You who doubt, you are not lost.

I used to hate the imagery of the mustard seed parable, that kind of faith too little for me to be proud of in my most lofty of days. I appreciate the mustard seed, knowing full well that it leaves ample room to be unsure of what could even come from something so miniscule, so helpless. Your roots will grow down deep as you seek, as you search, as you careen through the soil and never stop. Seek me, and you will find me.

In all these pictures, I see Christ.

I see the Cross as a banner for grief justified, both sides of the coin of grief experienced and caused. I see Jesus’ healing hands held out for the exhausted, no fix all, but a trust, golah hope, that leaves room for planting and building, and ultimately, thriving (Jer 29). I see the pierced side that takes a mustard seed and makes a martyr.

My brother got engaged this past week, and our family is thrilled to have a new sister, daughter, that is as wonderful as she is. I, personally, loathed the season of engagement, of in-between, of not yet. Once I knew what was to come, I was ready for it. I see Christ too, longing still for us, the consummation awaiting, and for how deeply hard and trying life can be. So I pray for the giddiness again, the celebration and joy that comes with knowing Who we’re doing this life with. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Take heart! I have conquered the world.

Resurrection is coming.

Hope does not guarantee that one will have only the wished-for experiences. Life in hope entails risk and leads one into danger and confirmation, disappointment and surprise. We must therefore speak of the experiment of hope.
— Jürgen Moltmann