May God Bless Us With Discomfort
These recent weeks have been trying. The world seems upside-down, businesses are closed, and people are losing their jobs. Families and friends are unable to mourn together in times of loss. We watch daily as the death toll rises. It can all be very unsettling.
But sometimes, perhaps we need to be unsettled. Can we use this as an opportunity to look at our lives and ask “Where are set in our ways,” Particularly, where are we set in ways that aren’t healthy for us as a society, that aren’t in line with what Jesus calls us to do? What lessons can we learn from this that we want to bring forward into our new lives, after all of this is a thing of the past?
The other day on my evening walk I passed a closed storefront that had painted messages in its windows. One said “Comfort the Disturbed. Disturb the Comfortable.” A few days later, on a sidewalk someone had spray painted the message “With discomfort comes growth.”
Maybe this is what Jesus is getting at when he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Even in these trying times, we see reminders of God’s goodness. Our eyes are opened to the things that are truly important. We are thankful for caring neighbors, families and friends, and the renewed awareness of their importance in our lives. We see the helpers, the Earthly Angels that are helping others, uplifting spirits, putting their own health at risk to serve others. During this “involuntary re-set,” the air is cleaner. I’ve noticed the birds singing in the mornings more than I normally do. The world has started to appreciate people that may not usually get much appreciation – grocery store workers, trash collectors, custodians. We are reminded that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
I thank God for shedding light on the problems that existed long before this coronavirus – inadequate availability of healthcare, communities without access to fresh food, the lack of safe homes in which to “shelter in place,” and the racial and class inequalities that are built into our system. I also thank God for the daily reminders that we need Him and rely on Him like the branches rely on the vine.
I hope you are able to take advantage of this time, this pause we have been given, to reflect and see what is important to you, to spend more quiet time with God. May we as a people emerge from this stronger, healthier, and more appreciative and compassionate towards one another, creating a world that is better, more like the Kingdom of Heaven.
I’ll end with a prayer from a book that was Grandma Wrenn’s, Prayer: Does it Make any Difference, by Phillip Yancey:
A Franciscan Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.