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I feel confident while the world suffers

Approx. read time: 3:30 min.

Early morning light filters through trees along the Ridgeline Trail, Eugene, Oregon (2020)

 

I never know what words, what thoughts, will emerge in the first dim moments of a new day.

I awaken, check my clock, and stretch. It’s 5:20 a.m., ten minutes ahead of the alarm, which I turn off. I’m irreversibly awake.

I pray the doxology, praise to Holy Trinity. 

     Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

And now, new words unexpectedly come forth: I have confidence in you, risen Christ.

Confidence about … what? That the bombing will stop? That the aggressor will rethink the plan? Forget what he’s fighting for?

I am thinking now of the insane bombardment, shelling, and landmine entrapments the people of Ukraine undergo to survive, to escape, as they have for the past several weeks.

Many have died. Many have fled. Many have died in the act of fleeing.

In this weeks-long assault on a sovereign nation, nothing goes untouched by the hand of terror, the chill of death.

Can anything be left?

I have confidence in you, risen Christ.

Now in the glow of oil lamps I pray Psalm 57 in Morning Prayer: 

     Have mercy on me, God, have mercy;

     … in the shadow of your wings I take refuge,

     till the storms of destruction pass by.

In the margin of my book I have written: The soul of the world prays these lines. 

It doesn’t matter when I wrote those words in the margin. The lines of the psalm apply somewhere, tragically, at all times.

Psalm 57 continues: 

     My soul lies down among lions … (a startling image, I note in the margins);

     their teeth are spears and arrows.

     … They lay a snare for my steps,

     my soul is bowed down.

I think again of the line that came to me at first waking: I have confidence in you, risen Christ.

Are these words easy to pray because I’m wrapped in my comfy bathrobe, with hot shower, a cup of coffee, and breakfast not far away? 

Are these words easy because everything is pretty good with my world?

I think now of families huddled in bomb shelters in Lviv, in Mariupol. Are they feeling confidence in you, risen Christ?

They may be thinking about survival. 

They may be waiting, hoping to make it through another day. 

They may be girding themselves against the shivering cold, against missiles and shrapnel and grief, against hunger, and thirst, with no relief in sight.

I feel confident while the world suffers. 

I do not ask why I feel confident, because I know the answer. The answer is: I do not understand.

I do not understand the pull and the mystery of faith, especially faith in resurrection, faith in the One who was raised from the dead. Faith in the Spirit of the risen Christ, penetrating everywhere, especially in the most needful places.

This is the painful side of faith: giving my unexplainable Yes to the unexplainable Mystery of Life which triumphs over vengeance and violence and death—despite the evidence so clear on my screen.

My prayer for President Putin is this: 

     Lord Jesus, risen Christ, 

     you came through the locked doors of your fear-huddled followers. 

     Come now through the armor of a man who 

     holds power to destroy, or to relent. 

     Hold him, trembling in his rags of poverty, secure in your love.

How do you pray in these troubled times? What insights come? Let me know.

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