Difficult Times – Part 2

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I hardly know what to think, or what to feel, or what to say these days. Even to God.

Sometimes, when I think about the coronavirus, I feel a sense of dread and creeping fear of the unknown. Part of what makes this so difficult is that the crisis seems to be moving in slow motion, but we know it is coming. The few times I have gone out of my house, it has been eerie: the empty streets, the bare shelves at the store, and not knowing when things will go back to “normal.”

Other times, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my family, my comfortable house, my ability to do most of my work from home, the voices of my children, and being part of a supportive and caring congregation that cares for one another and our neighbors in Jesus’ name.  Then there are moments when I am heartbroken for those for whom these days of social distancing mean loneliness, hunger, fear, unmitigated stress, and are not in a place that is comfortable, safe, or warm.

I imagine that many of us have feelings right now that we don’t know how to process, and hardly know how to name. In these days, I have found myself praying more than usual: for our church community, for our neighbors, for those who govern us, for my family, and for myself. Even in my prayers, I often find that I am at a loss for words.

When I am at a loss for words in prayer, I have learned to turn to the Psalms to find the words to say. In the Psalms, we have a sourcebook for prayer that helps us to put our experience, our thoughts, our feelings, our fears, and our hopes into words. One of the things about Psalms that has been so powerful over the past few weeks is that they remind me that our prayers can be fearless as we pour out our needs, our praise, and our fears to God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a simple little book called, Psalms: The Prayerbook of the Bible where he wrote, “The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.” The Psalms can teach us to pray, they can give us words to use, and help us to speak to God, and enable God to speak to us as we pray and listen to God.

When you’re at a loss for words, and don’t know what to pray, take a few moments and sit in silence before the Lord. Then, open the Psalms and use them for prayer. If you’re looking for a place to begin, you can start with Psalm 23, 46, 90, 121, and go from there. Perhaps one thing we can learn in this season of social distance and anxiety is how to pray, trusting in God’s mercy and goodness.

Pastor Ryan Balsan