A few Sundays ago, Sara and I had the opportunity to attend The Bridge Church NW in Wilsonville. They are a church plant with Expand NW (formally NWCEA), one of our local and global mission partners. About two years ago, Bob Johnson (pastor) and his wife Stephanie came to Mountainview and told us they would be launching the new church. Bob recalls their visit as one of those indescribable moments because of the way you encouraged them. The blessing continued as we represented you at their building dedication. Thank you for making a difference.
A lot is happening in our world right now. The political turmoil in Haiti, compounded by a devastating earthquake, breaks my heart. The out-of-control situation in Afghanistan continues. Both US soldiers and Afghan citizens have died and Afghan women and children live in constant fear. As we grieve for these and other situations, I believe God grieves with us.
Last week, I called you to pray. I hope you prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. In my prayers this week I had moments where I didn’t know what to pray for or what to ask, perhaps you did, too. In these moments, I found comfort in Paul’s words to the Roman Christians.
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26 ESV
Several years ago, I read The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen. I’d like to share a couple of quotes from this book to encourage you today.
“It might sound strange to consider grief a way to compassion. But it is. Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world––my own included––to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears. If they can’t be tears that stream from my eyes, they have to be at least tears that well up from my heart. When I consider the immense waywardness of God’s children, our lust, our greed, our violence, our anger, our resentment, and when I look at them through the eyes of God’s heart I cannot but weep and cry out in grief..."
“...This grieving is praying. There are so few mourners left in this world. But grief is the discipline of the heart that sees the sins of the world and knows itself to be the sorrowful price of freedom without which love cannot bloom. I am beginning to see that much praying is grieving. This grief is so deep not just because the human sin is so great but also––and more so––because the divine love is so boundless….To become like the Father whose only authority is compassion, I have to shed countless tears and so prepare my heart to receive anyone, whatever their journey has been, and forgive them from that heart.”
Can you relate to Nouwen’s phrase, “I am beginning to see that much praying is grieving.”? When we really pray to God on behalf of war-torn countries, countries destroyed by natural disasters, and the havoc the Corona virus has brought on the world, including our own community, we grieve...
Grieve and mourn for what is happening. Grieve for families being torn apart because they are at odds about what to believe and think. Mourn about the lives lost to COVID and the lives lost in war. Grieve for the lives lost and families devastated in natural disasters. Grieve with those whose grief and loss is overwhelming their lives.
I believe we have a God who hears us when we speak, even if we don’t know what to say sometimes... Speak to Him!
Grace & Peace!