But now this person has suffered a horrible tragedy, the kind of tragedy that often destroys the survivors in family units. He needs prayers. He needs to feel the presence of God and the healing care of the Holy Spirit.
My first reaction was that no matter our relationship (or lack of one) no person deserves to go through what his family is facing. The news left me in shock. But I have to be honest and admit I could not say a prayer for him. I could not bring myself to do it. I was ashamed. I am still ashamed.
This is where being a follower of Jesus gets tough. You realize Jesus meant what he said when he said “But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 44 – 48)
Okay…how do I live this out? How does any of us live this out? First, I don’t have a magic bullet answer. Second, this is a work in progress that may takes weeks and months to resolve. Third, I am sure others have better answers. But this is what I have been able to discern so far for me:
#1. God loves the other person who just as much as God loves me.
My favorite psalm is 139. It was the psalm I prayed over when I returned to the Church. It reinforces our uniqueness in our creation – his and mine. The redemptive death on the cross was meant for him and me. As much as my love is limited so is God’s love is limitless.
#2. Because God loves both of us, his heart breaks to see us like this.
I cannot imagine what it is like for a parent to watch the ugly disputes of childhood between siblings to explode into the disruptive fights between adult children. This is not what any parent wants. It is not what God wants for his children. He calls us to love and support each other.
#3. I am responsible for MY response.
I only have control over what I choose to do or not do. I cannot force reconciliation, a confrontation, or a conversion moment. I am called and challenged to pray. That is my choice to make.
And so I choose to pray, to pray and actually mean the words. I pray for him and I pray for me. Pray for him as well.
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