Prayer For Those Grieving Loss (19 May)
Sing: O Glorious Day
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Search your heart and pray as the Spirit leads
O wonderful and gracious God, merciful and generous are You in all Your ways. Father, when we look in Your Word to know You, we see how real You are. You are fully upfront with us in all that is going on. There is nothing that goes on this earth that You do not already show us in Your Word. Father, You are the Alpha and Omega. Your Word tells us about time and about the rhythm of life. How clearly You have spelt out the life and death of things in time. God, the fact that You are so real comforts us to know that we can hide behind You. Lord, even as You created all that is good, we have strayed from You and the responsibilities You entrusted to us. Forgive us, Lord. Thank You that in Christ we are redeemed!
And so we see that a painful reality of life is that there is death. Just as we do not know when we will be born, we do not know when our life will come to an end. It is the in-between time of birth and death that we are to live responsively towards You. And it is Your heart’s desire that many will repent and trust Jesus to save us from condemnation. It is Your desire that all will know You and enjoy You forever. So Lord we pray that we will treasure the gift of time with the reality of how life unfolds…birth and death, planting and uprooting, killing and healing, tearing down and building, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, scattering and gathering, embracing and refraining from embrace, searching and giving up, keeping and throwing away, tearing and mending, being silent and speaking, loving and hating, war and peace. So much of that is life and yet in that is death too. We pray that we will make each day count and use the things we have in life and love the people You bring our way.
While You speak so truly Lord, it is us who are sometimes in denial about the gravity of death. And when we grapple with pain, suffering, and death of life, we ask “where are You, O God?” You are the Life-Giver, yet many of us refuse to come to You. We face the death of many things in life that we have as normal…the loss of a job, financial burdens and loss, lack of safety, worries for loved ones, social distancing, quarantines, feelings of isolation, changes in the daily habits and routines, the cancellations of special events or trips, the clashes with families due to close proximity, the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the world, and the fears of what the future holds. Daily we feel a loss, a death of sorts. But Lord, far more painful it is when we die and yet have not truly lived. Far more painful it is that in dying, we then realize all that we miss about living. Yet, all is not wasted if through all that is going on, we would pause and see You; pause and really look for You and to You!
Today, we want to remember that over 280 000 people have died and over 46,000 now in critical conditions. The numbers have escalated so rapidly that news of people needing hospitalization followed by news of more death have brought on days of doom and gloom. No one was spared of tragic news. But when the tragedy hits home and a loved one is hospitalized without any family visits for fear of infections, the pain heightens for the dying as well as for the living. How do we say goodbye when ‘hello’ is what we hope for? How do we bring ourselves to let go when we are trying so desperately to hold on? And then it’s too late. O Lord, how painful it is to be dying with pain. How sweet it would be if we could all go gently into the night? But alas, with Covid-19, stories of how patients die make it sound not only painful but extremely cold and lonely…for the familiar faces of loved ones cannot be by their sides, the comforting voices and the touch of a beloved’s hand is absent, the final goodbye is a goodbye without being able to express. Then when the bodies are removed, they are immediately cremated or buried in mass graves. What now, Lord? Where do those who do not know You bring their feelings of guilt to? How do they find closure when all they see is a closed casket at the very most? How do they carry out the last rites feeling that there hasn’t been a farewell?
O Lord, You are so right and true to tell us to turn to You. You want us to live, but in refusing You, we face final death. Use all the guilt, non-closure and helplessness that each grieving one feels to cry out for You. Waste it not, Lord! Remind us, God. that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Remind us to seize the opportunity to bring comfort and healing to those who are grieving. Grant that we will be bearers of peace and hope. Help us tear down the walls that divide when we know of family and friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones under this pandemic. Remind us of the far more important matter to forgive and reconcile. Be with the bereaved to speak words of healing and hope. Open their eyes to see the wonder of You in Your Word. For those who are mourning the passing of their believing loved ones, may they take comfort that in death, they awaken with You in full health, freed of the pain and suffering that this world brings. Help them cast all their cares upon You, leaning on You to carry them through these days of missing their loved one. Give them courage to live each day as they sort through what remains and the legalities of their belongings under the cloud of heaviness. Fill them with peace beyond all comprehension to know that their believing loved one is with You and that You are with the living come what may. Remind Your children that for those who put their trust in You, death is but a sleep. When we awake with You, all we see is life everlasting, as promised in the precious words of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. What a glorious day that will be! What a comfort we have that You are with us. And until that day when we all get to heaven, may we be found telling others that there is none like You. No one else can touch our hearts like You do. We could search for all eternity long but find nothing and no one is like You! Hallelujah! We thank You dear Lord. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!