Originally published Friday, 07 August 2020.
Last week, iBelieve and Crosswalk ran my devotion on comforting someone mourning that's filled with vital tips from my training as a hospital chaplain. I got an email in my inbox from a woman whose friend had suffered a sudden stroke. She was spinning from the shock of it and searching for more resources to help.
As I checked my Twitter feed throughout the week, I was surprised to see many posts on grief from writers whom I respect. 2020 has certainly landed us in uncertainty, and perhaps an offshoot of that is a need to process grief with greater acknowledgement and responsibility. People are hurting.
I wanted to pass along the resources that I suggested to her in my email back. I also wanted to include a prayer for support that I find particularly meaningful. It references the feminine nature of God in scripture, a nature that might feel especially healing when suffering poses more questions than answers:
You are midwife who works with those in pain to bring
about new creation. May your healing support us
in our struggle.
You are mothering bird who shelters those in difficulty
under the protective shadow of your wings. Hover over
our troubled hearts.
Come to our help. Bear us up. Be with us in our confusion
and sorrow. Deepen our sense of what remains to us amid
our losses. Strengthen our faith that your divine
compassion is present in ways we cannot see or understand.
We count on your love and mercy. Amen.
This prayer is from Healing Liturgies for the Seasons of Life by Dr. Abigail Rian Evans and is used with permission. I highly recommend this book.
If you're looking for a resource to help you answer grief's questions from a faith perspective, I recommend Jerry Sitter's A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss. If you're looking to support someone who is sick or grieving, I recommend What Can I Say? A Guide to Visiting Friends and Family Who Are Ill by Simon and Karen Fox.
While I do not believe that God wills tragedy, we live in a broken world. Luckily, he experienced that brokenness firsthand too and resurrected. God offers that same power—beauty for ashes—to each of us by faith. No darkness is too dark. Keep straining toward the light; believe in God's promises (Eph. 1:18–21). If you do, God will startle you with his grace, perhaps when you least expect it. When that moment comes, your connection to him will feel realer than anything else. You will know that he lives.
Please share this post with someone who might need it. If you know someone who is looking for new purpose, especially during COVID, please pass along my new book too—its recent publication is timely!
Rev. Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., believes we don't have to live with full schedules and thin souls. A busy mom of three boys, she is a graduate of Northwestern University and Princeton Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served in churches for over ten years. She has written for places like the TODAY Show Parenting Team, Huff Post Parents, Crosswalk, iBelieve, and (in)courage. Her faith and family cable television show, "Chaos to Calm," features parenting hot topics and has hosted four New York Times bestselling authors and two Emmy Award-winning journalists. Watch her episodes or sermons and sign up for her free devotional e-book by visiting her website, noellekirchner.com. You can connect with her on social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) and also check out her book, How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best, that launched as a #1 New Release on Amazon and includes end-of-chapter Bible studies.