For times such as these…

By Sandra Steiner Ball

Once again, the news over the last several days has not been good.  School shootings again – one at a football game.  People dead, hurt, scared.  There is loss of innocence. Loss of security.  Witnesses will never be able to get what they saw erased from their minds. School will never again be a safe place for some.  Communities and families shocked and in grief.

In this approaching season of Thanksgiving – I give thanks for first responders, for mental health professionals, for teachers, administrators, and students who jump into action to keep their others as safe as possible, and for medical teams who work with the wounded and their families. I grieve that all this action is necessary because of the violence that takes place.  

What I noticed this time is that while people gave thoughts and prayers – there was less shock and outcry. And while we wish these things would not happen and we think they are wrong, I got the feeling, this time, that there was more of an expectancy that these kinds of things now happen, are normal, in our world and in our country.  We groan about what is happening around us – violence growing, personal attacks verbally, physically, and emotionally – multiplying.  The groans are not only coming from us, but from deep inside all of God’s creation.

All creation is crying out for salvation, for revival, for an end to the violence and injustice that is not necessary and is not a part of God’s plan.  All creation is attempting to shake us awake!  Wake up is the cry!  “O Lord, revive thy work” (Hab. 3:2. KJV) This speaks to God’s work in the past and the work that is to come.

We, each of us, are the Lord’s work – past, present, and future, created in God’s image!  And so we pray: Quicken our souls that we might participate in the transformation of the present and future. Quicken our souls once again to bring your resurrection instead of participating in death!  Quicken our souls to speak words that give your life instead of words that condemn, attack, and cast out.  

Too often, we criticize and condemn the church when the rebuke should be laid on our own shoulders.  We are part of the Church and our own lack of revival is at the very heart of the lack of revival in the Church – locally, regionally, globally. We are in need of revival!  

In our conduct and conversation – we are not sharing Christ or the Good News of Christ.  Words are powerful.  With word and breath – God created, creates, and is creating – and desires that we open up ourselves to be the conduits for new creation and new life.  

However, we don’t recognize or speak words of affirmation, blessing, or thank you nearly enough.  Revive our souls, O Lord! Words are powerful.  They change things.  They create things.  

What are your words creating in the lives of those around you?  Groan for your revival.  Your revival will make a difference in this world.  Your revival could change the course of a person’s life – and maybe an entire school and community. Your revival could help people lay down their weapons.  Your revival could help stem the flood of verbal attacks.  Your revival could bring hope to one that is so hopeless that they see no downside and maybe no out for taking their own life or the lives of others.  

Thoughts and prayers – yes – we need those.  However, what we need more is action from persons who have humbled themselves, persons who have given up all hope that they can revive themselves, persons who cry out for God to revive them – so that God’s lifegiving love and hope can be multiplied thereby creating a wider and wider pathway for transforming the world.