Rejoicing in the midst of grief

Originally posted on Facebook May 7, 2020

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

Today there are people grieving the death of a man who committed no crime, killed by men who chased him down and blocked his path, who have not been arrested.

Today there are people fearful of a rapidly-changing pandemic, and others who say the pandemic was manufactured.

Today there are people who praise the administration, and people who oppose it.

And when I asked God what passage to reference in this post, I sensed Him telling me to look at the verse of the day, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What do we do with this passage?

Do we tell the person grieving Ahmaud’s death, “Rejoice always!”? Do we tell the brothers ripped apart by conspiracies or politics “give thanks!”?

How do we pray continually when religious leaders are telling us opposing things to pray for?

But this is God’s will for us: to rejoice always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances.

We can only do this because this existence is bigger than us: it is bigger than our plans, our opinions, and our rights.

We fail to do this because we choose our understanding over God’s, we choose ourselves over our neighbors, and we seek our plans rather than those of a holy God.

My heart breaks knowing two white men — men that looked like me — chased a black man down in a truck, blocked him, and shot him when he wrestled to save himself. I don’t know what thoughts crossed their minds, but I do know too many of my friends who are not white grieve the repetitive narrative.

My heart breaks seeing people that I know desire to seek God presenting their personal opinions as though they are God’s words, in the realms of politics and current events. I know many have often meant well, but have unintentionally chosen an earthly kingdom over an eternal one.

My heart breaks knowing this is repetitive throughout scriptures, whether it’s the Israelites oppressing their neighbors and failing to trust God, or the disciples rejecting those in need and turning from Jesus on the cross. We think we know what is right, we think we know what is best, while God says, “I have sought you to know ME.”

I rejoice because God is God and God is good, despite the brokenness and disunity around us. I pray continuously because I know God still speaks, and I have seen Him work. I give thanks in all circumstances because I know I never see more than a sliver of what is really going on, but God sees it all; and this God knows how to bring justice and goodness at the appointed times, for eternal purposes.

Church: know God today, not your opinions or plans. Seek God in prayer, not your own intentions or pursuits. Approach Him with the humility of one who doesn’t deserve an audience with God, and the joy of one who has been extended unmerited grace and access. Because these are serious times, and we serve a serious God.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s