Walking Our Faith: Grace for tough times
Walking Our Faith
I sat at my desk Wednesday morning and scanned the headlines of the Summit Daily News. I saw an article on the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine sites, which now include City Market and Safeway.
I clicked through to the government website and then clicked on the link leading to City Market. There, I was asked to fill in a brief registration that included my date of birth and was asked to pick a 15-minute slot that afternoon.
I was overjoyed. The shot would place me one step closer to getting on a plane and flying down to Florida to see Mom.
I was so excited about the expansion of vaccine sites that I texted my knitting group with the good news. A little while later, my friend, Natalie, texted back that the vaccine was still available only to those 70 and older.
I’ll be honest: All I could think of was all the open vaccine appointments that I saw when I registered, and I wanted to rationalize that it would be OK if I took one of them.
But then I got up from my desk and went over to my big chair and sat down to do my daily Bible reading. And as I read from the 11th chapter of Matthew, I realized that the annoying unease I felt in my heart was my conscience telling me that skipping the line wasn’t right.
So I called City Market’s pharmacy and canceled my appointment. Once I hung up, my conscience felt better, but honestly my very human heart was still sad and angry and frustrated.
I miss Mom so much even though we talk by phone daily. I’d hoped the vaccine rollout would happen more quickly. But it hasn’t. In fact, my 93-year-old mother still has not received her first shot.
Next week, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as our 46th president. About half the country feels some degree of anger and frustration about that outcome. There’s little we can say that will reduce the anger and frustration of those who wanted a different outcome. What we all need right now is more of God’s grace.
The definition of grace is “unmerited favor.” Prosperity preachers say it’s akin to winning the lottery. But I’d like to suggest a more sustaining definition taken from the words of Jesus, himself:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30
I understand now that grace is God’s extended hand of compassion in difficult circumstances. When grace is the last thing we want to give ourselves, or our neighbor, God asks that we let him carry that burden.
I believe we need to dedicate the coming week to prayer. Let’s ask God for an outpouring of grace on our country. We are all weary right now. Weary of the pandemic, of economic uncertainty, of political rancor. Our hearts are broken and mistrustful of those in authority.
Sometimes it feels as if we are pushing against the wind. Which is exactly when we need God’s grace to lift our weary shoulders and show us the hope that is in front of us.
Let’s pray that God will give us the grace of patience and compassion toward those we disagree with, whose political or religious views we don’t share, whose choices we don’t understand.
Let’s ask for an outpouring of God’s love on our country to heal our divisions, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to refresh our beleaguered souls.
Let us pray for God’s grace to see through our own pain and anger and frustration to understand the same in our neighbor and friend. Let’s ask for the humility to extend a hand of kindness to lift one another up.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. — Prayer of St. Francis
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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