For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Much of the ongoing strife feels like the old adage “bad things happening to good people.” For most of us, the distance and strangeness of those situations and places don’t threaten the local bubble where we interface with the world. At every sad news-story, most of us will wish the affected a speedy recovery and peace from afar and some will pray for them. When the heartache strikes closer to home, say amongst our friends, coworkers, and neighbors, the old adage above becomes bad things happening to good people we know (often well). The local tragedy's intimacy makes it both much sadder and in some sense makes us feel more helpless. We often don’t take deeply to heart our inability to heal far-distant tragedies’ victims, but how can we rationalize failing to make completely better a neighbor’s pain? Just being nice and maybe bringing by a meal doesn’t feel like enough, so we often cite them by name in our thoughts and prayers.
Many colleagues at my company of over 80,000 have received layoff pink-slips in the past few weeks as the business reacts to the vicissitudes in contract award cycles. The affected folks I know are smart, hardworking people so I know they’ll land back on their feet somewhere. Nonetheless, in our society where individuals’ pride and self-esteem are often closely tied up with work, a layoff causes a lingering pain beyond the mere loss of income. Simply saying “so-sorry, goodbye, and good luck” only does a bit to heal that pain. And I know that a layoff is nothing compared to the distant multitudes losing homes and family members to seeming random acts of regional violence where geography and sheer numbers prevent my offering the most meager of personal condolences. So I offer this prayer, trusting that God can do what I cannot.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the steady gentle rain on my fields and the bounty it has granted me. Please make it rain on my neighbors’ and friends’ dry fields. Please make it rain doubly on dry fields the world over where it has not rained in a long time. Grant the affected everywhere the peace you have granted me and my family. Amen.