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Amidst Turmoil, Remember God Is Near

By Don Meyer

CHICAGO, IL (August 23, 2011) – A special “Summer Prayer” penned by one of the chaplains at Swedish Covenant Hospital has been receiving considerable attention in recent days, a prayer that may resonate with many who feel confused or even overwhelmed amidst a sense of unrest that permeates our lives these days.

“I’ve been reflecting on changes in our culture and the uncertainty we see on the economic and political horizon, and not feeling very hopeful about it all,” says chaplain José M. La Luz, director of pastoral care at the hospital, in explaining the genesis for the prayer.

During a recent visit to see family and friends in Puerto Rico, La Luz observed how the people of that region reflected a sense of hope and trust in every circumstance, always seeming to find a way to move on and continue to trust in God, despite circumstances even more challenging than those in the U.S.

“They didn’t spend as much time complaining about how things are as they did celebrating the present joys and enjoying relationships through visits, meals and stories,” he notes. “I returned to Chicago with an enlivened sense of the reality of how good and true God is, despite changing circumstances around us.”

He found in writing a prayer the means of addressing his own “powerful conflicting feelings evoked by our culture’s current themes of apparent powerlessness and fragmentation.” The prayer addressed a core question he had been pondering for some time, a question that comes from Psalm 121: “Where does my help come from?”

“Our trusted institutions seem unable to provide any meaningful leadership,” the chaplain explains. “Our collective community almost seems to suffer from a Tower of Babel-like inability to face challenges and solve problems effectively, creatively and compassionately. Even our words seem now to be without power or virtue.

“I feel that my prayer is a response to the temptation to believe that nothing I or we can do will make a difference,” he continues. “The conclusion of my prayer is to affirm that this is a time to turn to God – or, perhaps, to return to God. It is also a call to accept our powerlessness as well as to confess my and our arrogance in trusting that we can do anything without God’s power through Jesus Christ. The underlying felt hope in the prayer is that, if our words have indeed lost virtue, then perhaps it is time to keep silence. If our actions are mainly resulting in heat and busyness, then perhaps it is time to be still.

“Ultimately, in our time of distress, we can call on God today for inspired guidance and leadership. I suppose, when you get right down to it, the prayer is a confident and optimistic expression of the words, ‘Help, God!’ born not so much out of desperation, but of hopeful expectation that God is real, God hears and God answers.”

A Summer Prayer

Receive this prayer, O Lord, this sigh from my soul to your ears.
Our heartfelt longing is to be found by you, Lord.
May you consider our every petition and this, my heartfelt appeal.

We wonder about these days, Lord, and about our world whose
previously bright future suddenly seems so small and strangely uncertain.
Tomorrow’s promise appears distant and complicated beyond
our means to comprehend and to respond. Where do we look for inspiration,
for help? Where do we find you?

Come to us, Lord, in our work and in our song. Come to us in our joys,
and in our tears. Allow us to see your face and experience your love.
In this time of disquiet, walk with us and fill us with your passion for living.
Grant that our hands and hearts may continue to be open and our
souls continue to believe.

Dear Lord, inspire us to know that despite outward appearances and
inner unrest, you continue to be our God and we continue to be yours.
Yes, God, throughout the ages, through every circumstance, you are God,
and we are yours.

Receive this prayer, this sigh from my soul to your heart, O Lord.
Dear God, hear our prayer and show us your face.

José M. La Luz
Director of Pastoral Care
Late Summer 2011

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