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It’s been about three months since I wrote my blog post about prayer, specifically relating to the power of prayer in Damar Hamlin’s life. Damar Hamlin was a football safety for the Buffalo Bills who suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. If you haven’t had a chance to read my blog post, you can check it out here.
Just three short months ago, various media outlets and the country at-large embraced the “Prayer Works” movement with open arms. Football fans united in the stands and prayed for Damar Hamlin’s life. Prayer vigils formed outside his hospital. We watched reporters pray on-air for God to save his life. Players and coaches took a knee and bowed down before our Creator. It felt like the whole world was placing their trust in God to protect Hamlin, and Hamlin survived.
Media Headlines January 2023: Prayer Works. Answered Prayers. Prayer is Real.
PRAYER EMBRACED. GOD FIXED OUR PROBLEM.
God gets… the glory?
Fast forward to today where we are reeling from the latest mass shooting at the Covenant School, a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. Instead of lives saved and protected, we are dealing with multiple lives lost and a lifetime of suffocating grief and pain that will be etched in the hearts of the victim’s family members, friends, and our nation.
Many, including myself, are praying over this horrific tragedy and for the families and communities who are grieving. But this time, I noticed that the media headlines regarding prayer over this tragedy have taken a drastic turn from the warm embrace of prayer just three short months ago with Damar Hamlin’s healing.
Media Headlines March 2023: Prayer does not work. We don’t want your stupid thoughts and prayers. Prayer is not enough.
PRAYER REJECTED. GOD DID NOT FIX OUR PROBLEM.
A quick glance at how prayer has been received this time around:
Tennessee State Senator Heidi Campbell said, “We don’t need thoughts and prayers.”
Gun control activist Shannon Watts said, “If prayers alone worked there wouldn’t have been a mass shooting at a school where they pray.” she tweeted.
When I see this disparity between prayer working and prayer not working, I am reminded how we (believers and nonbelievers alike) often equate prayer with the termination of suffering: “If it doesn’t terminate suffering, then it’s not working.” And then some conclude, “Well then, there must be no God”.
So we take matters into our own hands and spend time and energy trying to terminate suffering from our lives, hoping to be the savior of our own lives.
I get it. We don’t like suffering. I don’t like suffering. I don’t want it and sometimes I try to live my life as if it’s not there or I find ways to remove it as quickly as possible.
Life is hard:
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). If you listen to just one hour of my show, that’s 1,200 people that are being physically hurt during that one hour.
- Almost 6,000 children become orphans every day due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease, stigma and medical needs (Orphans Lifeline).
- There are over 600,000 cancer deaths happening every single day (CDC).
- It’s estimated that one person dies of hunger every four seconds (World Vision).
God tells us that there will be suffering in this world:
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. – John 16:33
My hope lies in our mighty Conqueror who has prepared a place for us. It’s our mighty Savior who frees us of earthly suffering or promises to walk with us right through it.
I don’t think “unanswered prayer” or suffering means that we stop praying or see prayer as futile. Suffering doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. For me, it’s a constant reminder that we are made for another world:
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”-Tim Keller, “Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering“
I don’t know how to do this life without Christ; without Him, suffering would be intolerable. But this is the hope we have today: that we CAN have HIS JOY, here and now, in the midst of the world’s sorrows, knowing that a complete restoration waits for us.
So what can we do today?
- Embrace prayer; a gift that allows us to communicate with our great Lord.
- Grieve with the families and communities in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Weep over the evil that destroys this world and lives in its wake.
- Be the changemakers and waymakers by living out how He has called us to live, to love the things He loves, and to be fierce protectors of His most cherished possessions….His creation.
- Pray for this world to know Jesus as their Savior. Pray for healing, protection, for Christ’s swift return and for hearts to be softened and to turn from all evil.
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Such a wonderful post, timely and thoughtful in the midst of all the chaos. Personally, I needed to hear this. I’m learning to walk in faith and know that God is with me as I pray for my son and his struggle with mental health challenges. It’s so hard as his mother to refrain from taking control and trying to alleviate our mutual suffering. I know this isn’t our home, and God is right here with us even when I feel prayer hasn’t “worked.” I know He is working for our good, and His ways are the best ways.
I’m so glad Heather!! This post was totally God-led as I had plans to write about something else. I’m sorry about your son. You are definitely not alone and I will be praying for him and for faith in his life and for God to continue to help you walk in your faith. And yes, his ways are always GOOD!!! God Bless!
– Devin Almonte
This is a wonderful devotional, one of the best I’ve read. I will be sharing this. Thank you!
I’m so glad you got something out of it Sandy!!! Same here, this is definitely a post that I have been able to share with people, as so many of us are wrestling and struggling to understand both prayer and suffering. God Bless! – Devin Almonte