I hesitated in writing anything to you about what happened because sometimes I think more voices diminish the grief of the people who hurt most. But having witnessed a murder in my classroom many years ago, I do know some of what happens after the story ceases to be sensational in the media. I know a little bit about when something horrendous and heartbreaking becomes old news … that’s when the real problems start. The deep grief sets in and beside it, fear often finds a seat.
For me, it was the months after the news reporters stopped walking up and down my street asking neighbors to give more details. Months past the funeral service for my teacher. The hardest times were the months when life was supposed to settle back to ‘normal’ but I couldn’t find ‘normal’ anymore. Looking back, that was the time I needed the most help. And I’m wondering if that’s the time the folks in Charleston will need you and me most of all.
Will you pray for the people of Charleston?
Prayer is not a lame, last ditch effort. Prayer is talking to God about things too big for us to handle and too sad to imagine. Prayer is a way to approach a grief too grave to even discuss. And so I’m asking you if we could talk to God about this instead of watching the news loop. That we take things to Him by praying for them.
1. Pray for a spirit of continued forgiveness.
When those families publicly forgave the shooter, they were standing in supernatural strength. As more details unfold and the weight of loss lays heavy on those families, pray for the supernatural strength to forgive again and again.
2. Pray against a stronghold of fear.
I can tell you from experience, that the enemy often finds a foothold in our suffering. Many times, he uses experiences that wound us as a way to inject fear into our lives. And when fear finds even a tiny space, it invades and corrupts in weird ways. Pray against a stronghold of fear for our friends in Charleston. Pray for a stronghold of peace and joy even in suffering.
3. Pray God reveals beauty for ashes.
Sometimes the darkness and fear seem so much bigger than God. Watching the news filled me with sadness and despair over the heartache. So I started praying Isaiah 61:3 over Charleston. Praying that God “will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”
Beauty for ashes. Blessing instead of mourning. Praise instead of despair. That is the prayer.
Pray for a tenacious hold on the character of God as good and faithful. And a belief that no bad will ever outdo God’s goodness.
Charleston needs us now. But Charleston also needs us later.
Please join me in praying for the people of Charleston.
photo: kate stafford photography