My morning began with a text from a good friend shaken by the shootings in Las Vegas. At this point, the news reports 58 killed and over 500 injured by a lone gunmen with unknown motives.
Moments ago, I listened to a radio report, saying conditions in Puerto Rico are rapidly deteriorating, and millions of people are suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
While trivial by comparison, as I drove, I passed piles of debris awaiting pick-up since Hurricane Irma passed through Florida, nearly a month ago.
Not brutal – at least in my community – but, more signs of destruction.
I know there are three emails in my inbox regarding a young woman who was abducted, brutally raped, and murdered earlier this year. I haven’t read them, yet. I will. But, not yet. I know the family. I know the story. I know the brutality.
Brutal feels like the word of the day. So much brutality. Brutality everywhere I look. Perhaps another word is broken. So much brokenness. Brutal and broken. That’s how the world feels to me today. Brutal and broken.
Later this evening, I will gather with a cohort preparing to become Spiritual Directors. Spiritual Directors are companions on the journey, seeking God in prayer. Inevitably, I have no doubt, we’ll be wrestling with how to find God in the brutality, and how to pray in moments of brokenness.
I’ll confess, I haven’t known what to pray today. And, thus, I haven’t.
Days like today, I trust in the promise of Romans 8:26-27 (NLT), “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
Days like today, I groan more than pray. Maybe my groans are prayers. I hope so. Maybe your groans are prayers. Maybe the groans arising from Las Vegas and Puerto Rico are prayers. I think God’s hearing a lot of groaning these days.
I’m also reminded of an expression I learned from Glennon Doyle:”brutiful.” Glennon says, “Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.”
Amidst the brutality of today’s events and news, I hear stories of heroic acts in Las Vegas and the generous outpouring of donations for Puerto Rico. While the dark clouds of brutality obscure the beauty of the day, some beauty remains. Thank God. There is a light that “shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5, NLT)
I need to be reminded of beauty sometimes.
There is so much that is brutal and broken in this world. There’s so much brokenness. So much despair. Help us, Lord, to never lose sight of the beauty that co-exists with the brutality. Help us, Lord, never to lose sight of you.
And, when we don’t know what to pray, hear our groans.