Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Deeper Safety

My brother’s girlfriend ended up in the hospital yesterday, and I realized the first benefit of all my loved ones scheduling their lives falling apart at the same time: at least it makes hospital visits more convenient. I was already planning a trip to the same hospital to visit my friend with leukemia.

As I walked to campus this morning, praying by name for those whose lives are closely linked with mine, holding out faith that God was hearing me for their good and not their ill, I wondered if part of the reason we pray for one another is to remind ourselves that God cares for them. After a summer of praying for my loved ones, I felt pretty sure of God’s presence in their lives, even after three weeks of watching a catalogue of tragedies. If I get another heavy phone-call about another loved one, I feel pretty sure God will continue to be present. We are not safe, and yet we are.

And then I walked by the bell-tower and saw the flags at half-mast, and realized what day it was.

In the liturgy of being American, this is the day set aside to remind ourselves that we are not safe. But I’m wondering if that’s only true on one level, on the level one could say that God did not hear my summer prayers for my loved ones. Our lives are not insulated from tragedy, and my prayers do not seem to compel God to be the Great Insulator.

But he is the Great Redeemer, and I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin is destroyed yet in my flesh I shall see God (what the heck does that mean?!). Maybe we pray to remind ourselves of that. Maybe even if we don’t remember that, we pray because that is who we are praying to.

And I am rambling this morning, but what I am trying to say is that I feel safe, that as I visit my friends in the hospital this afternoon and as I finger the addresses for the jail letters I have still not written I know that my redeemer lives. It’s a deeper kind of safety, one that looks a whole lot like being unsafe. But I think I really do believe it.

Maybe that is why we pray.

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