The Woodmont Hills Family of God has suffered some difficult losses in the past months and in this past week the family suffered the loss of one of its youth. Ty Osman, an eighteen year old freshman at Harding University, was killed in a car accident while on Spring Break.
Added to other recent losses–and the ongoing struggles of marriages, economics, parenting and leadership–this moment has created season of grief for the Woodmont Hills Family of God.
Just before he spoke Dean asked me to lead a prayer at the end of his lesson. I have provided that prayer below–it was delivered extemporaneously and without much forethought. It came from the heart. I have provided here as it was delivered. The audio of this prayer is available at the end of Dean’s podcast.
May God bless; may God have mercy on us all.
God of heaven,
Why do you sometimes seem so far away? Why does it sometimes seem like you don’t listen and you don’t answer? God, why don’t you take your hands out of your pockets and do something?
We feel this, Father. Your saints of old have felt many times as well.
In our hurt we ask you, “How long?” How long must we carry this sorrow in our heart every day? How long, Father? How long before you will bring all the pain to an end? When will you act, God?
Those are our feelings, Father. You know our hearts. You know our hurts. You know our questions and our doubts. They are real to us. We confess them to you. We are grateful that you hear us, that you love us.
For, Father, even with our hurts, our questions,
we still confess that you are the maker of heaven and earth;
we still confess that your Son was born of a virgin, born of a woman, and that he lived, he suffered, and he died;
we still confess, Father, that you raised him from the dead;
and we confess that he is coming again to renew this world, to rid us of the pain and the suffering, to wipe away our tears. Lord, come quickly.
So we are grateful, Father, that you know our pain—that you experience it along with us. And you know all the different sorts of pain that are in this room this morning: the grief over the loss of a young life, the grief of families hurting—suffering economically, suffering with disease, suffering from spiritual dislocation, suffering in their marriages.
God, you know our hurts. And we lay them before you right now. And we speak the truth that it hurts. And we have questions. And, yes, we even have doubts.
But we also confess. For, Father, there is no one else to whom we can turn. Who else can hear our pains? Who else can heal our diseases? Who else can raise the dead? You are God. And we trust you.
Father, in this moment, we ask you to pour your Spirit upon this church, to pour your Spirit upon this leadership, the shepherds and the ministers, the volunteers—all those who involved in serving this community and leading this community. You know, Father, that it is difficult to lead in times of grief.
Give our shepherds strength. Give them a passion for you and passion for their flock. Give them the Spirit that only you can provide, that can shed abroad your love in our hearts. For you are the God of hope and the God of comfort, and we pray that you will pour out your Spirit upon us that we might know your hope, know your comfort.
Dry up our tears, O God. Use your servants in this place to be a comfort for the people.
You do seem so far away sometimes, God. But we confess that you came near and that you know what a cross is. But you also know what victory is. Give us your presence. Give us your peace. And give us the hope of your victory in the world.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.