My heart has been so heavy these past few weeks. Thoughts have run through my head over and over. I could not publicly write about it until today due to finding the words, as well as work and travels. The ramifications of the COVID pandemic are many. Like a spider web, it’s intertwining in every aspect of our lives. It is about protecting self and family. For me it is also about the 4,000 employees I work with as an HR professional. If COVID wasn’t enough, then the international racial riots in response to a bad police officer’s apparent murder of a black man. How do you and I deal with all this negative news and multiple lives affected with such hatred?
I remember years ago while I was in distress over the lost of a child due to a miscarriage, an older Christian woman called me to tell me she would bathed me in prayer. That afternoon I was so tired from blood loss and mourning over the loss of the child I would never know. My husband then was insensitive to my feelings and said, “Well, you will get over it. We didn’t really want another child anyways.” So hurtful to me, but this was how he rationalize the pain of this death. I slept the remaining day and into the night. I was able to fall asleep knowing another woman was praying for me. It was the intentional prayers of another, as well as this person sharing this with me that brought peace to my soul, and eventually rest. From this I learned to pray fervently and unceasingly for others, as well as for myself.
“All strength that we give away comes over us again, experienced and altered. Thus it is in prayer…” author Rainer Maria Rilke writes. Strength is what I receive when I pray. “And what is there, truly done, that is not prayer?” Rilke adds. I take it that the author speaks of works that coincide with or because of faith and prayer. Holy Scriptures tell us in James 2:14-26 New Living Translation (NLT) “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Today our prayers and the works that match those prayers sustain us. We cannot justify hatred between family members, neighborhoods, co-workers, religions, and races. Pray. Pray for the “peace that surpasses understanding.” Do a good deed towards someone who may be in opposite view as yourself. If a good deed is not possible right now, then continue to pray. “Pray without ceasing” until you can. Bathe yourself and the other person in prayer.